‘Trevor senior was a widower, and my friend was his only son. There had been a daughter, I heard, but she had died of diphtheria while on a visit to Birmingham. The father interested me extremely. He was a man of little culture, but with a considerable amount of rude strength both physically and mentally. He knew hardly any books, but he had travelled far, had seen much of the world, and had remembered all that he had learned. In person he was a thick-set, burly man with a shock of grizzled hair, a brown, weather-beaten face, and blue eyes which were keen to the verge of fierceness. Yet he had a reputation for kindness and charity in the countryside, and was noted for the leniency of his sentences from the bench.

‘One evening, shortly after my arrival, we were sitting over a glass of port after dinner, when young Trevor began to talk about those habits of observation and inference which I had already formed into a system, although I had not yet appreciated the part which they were to play in my life. The old man evidently thought that his son was exaggerating in his description of one or two trivial feats which I had performed.

‘ “Come now, Mr Holmes,” said he, laughing good-humouredly, “I’m an excellent subject, if you can deduce anything from me.”

‘ “I fear there is not very much,” I answered. “I might suggest that you have gone about in fear of some personal attack within the last twelve months.”

‘The laugh faded from his lips, and he stared at me in great surprise.

‘ “Well, that’s true enough,” said he. “You know, Victor,” turning to his son, “when we broke up that poaching gang, they swore to knife us; and Sir Edward Hoby has actually been attacked. I’ve always been on my guard since then, though I have no idea how you know it.”

‘ “You have a very handsome stick,” I answered. “By the inscription, I observed that you had not had it more than a year. But you have taken some pains to bore the head of it and pour melted lead into the hole, so as to make it a formidable weapon. I argued that you would not take such precautions unless you had some danger to fear.”

‘ “Anything else?’ he asked, smiling.

‘ “You have boxed a good deal in your youth.”

‘ “Right again. How did you know it? Is my nose knocked a little out of the straight?”

‘ “No,” said I, “It is your ears. They have the peculiar flattening and thickening which marks the boxing man.”

‘ “Anything else?”

‘ “You have done a great deal of digging, by your callosities.”

‘ “Made all my money at the gold-fields.”

‘ “You have been in New Zealand.”

‘ “Right again.”

‘ “You have visited Japan.”

‘ “Quite true.”

‘ “And you have been most intimately associated with someone whose initials were J.A., and whom you afterwards were eager to entirely forget.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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