A wild crash of hurrahs followed, and every man reached for his neighbor’s hand and wrung it, with tears in his eyes; and Wells-Fargo Ferguson shouted, “The Straight Flush is on the lode, and up she goes to a hundred and fifty a foot—you hear me!

When quiet fell, Mr. Holmes resumed:

“We perceive, then, that three facts are established, to wit: the assassin was approximately light-witted; he was not a stranger; his motive was robbery, not revenge. Let us proceed. I hold in my hand a small fragment of fuse, with the recent smell of fire upon it. What is its testimony? Taken with the corroborative evidence of the quartz, it reveals to us that the assassin was a miner. What does it tell us further? This, gentlemen: that the assassination was consummated by means of an explosive. What else does it say? This: that the explosive was located against the side of the cabin nearest the road—the front side—for within six feet of that spot I found it.

“I hold in my fingers a burnt Swedish match—the kind one rubs on a safety-box. I found it in the road, 622 feet from the abolished cabin. What does it say? This: that the train was fired from that point. What further does it tell us? This: that the assassin was left-handed. How do I know this? I should not be able to explain to you, gentlemen, how I know it, the signs being so subtle that only long experience and deep study can enable one to detect them. But the signs are here, and they are reinforced by a fact which you must have often noticed in the great detective narratives—that all assassins are left-handed.”

“By Jackson, that’s so!” said Ham Sandwich, bringing his great hand down with a resounding slap upon his thigh; “blamed if I ever thought of it before.”

“Nor I!” “Nor I!” cried several. “Oh, there can’t anything escape him—look at his eye!”

“Gentlemen, distant as the murderer was from his doomed victim, he did not wholly escape injury. This fragment of wood which I now exhibit to you struck him. It drew blood. Wherever he is, he bears the telltale mark. I picked it up where he stood when he fired the fatal train.” He looked out over the house from his high perch, and his countenance began to darken; he slowly raised his hand, and pointed—

“There stands the assassin!”

For a moment the house was paralyzed with amazement; then twenty voices burst out with:

“Sammy Hillyer? Oh, hell, no! Him? It’s pure foolishness!”

“Take care, gentlemen—be not hasty. Observe—he has the blood-mark on his brow.”

Hillyer turned white with fright. He was near to crying. He turned this way and that, appealing to every face for help and sympathy; and held out his supplicating hands toward Holmes and began to plead:

Dont’t, oh, don’t! I never did it; I give my word I never did it. The way I got this hurt on my forehead was—”

“Arrest him, constable!” cried Holmes. “I will swear out the warrant.”

The constable moved reluctantly forward—hesitated—stopped.

Hillyer broke out with another appeal. “Oh, Archy, don’t let them do it; it would kill mother! You know how I got the hurt. Tell them, and save me, Archy; save me!”

Stillman worked his way to the front, and said:

“Yes, I’ll save you. Don’t be afraid.” Then he said to the house, “Never mind how he got the hurt; it hasn’t anything to do with this case, and isn’t of any consequence.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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