7. CHAPTER VII. LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS.
"The word RACHE, written in letters of blood," he said.
"That was it," said Lestrade, in an awe-struck voice;
and we were all silent for a while.
There was something so methodical and so incomprehensible
about the deeds of this unknown assassin, that it imparted a
fresh ghastliness to his crimes. My nerves, which were steady
enough on the field of battle tingled as I thought of it.
"The man was seen," continued Lestrade. "A milk boy, passing
on his way to the dairy, happened to walk down the lane which
leads from the mews at the back of the hotel. He noticed
that a ladder, which usually lay there, was raised against
one of the windows of the second floor, which was wide open.
After passing, he looked back and saw a man descend the
ladder. He came down so quietly and openly that the boy
imagined him to be some carpenter or joiner at work in the
hotel. He took no particular notice of him, beyond thinking
in his own mind that it was early for him to be at work. He
has an impression that the man was tall, had a reddish face,
and was dressed in a long, brownish coat. He must have
stayed in the room some little time after the murder, for we
found blood-stained water in the basin, where he had washed
his hands, and marks on the sheets where he had deliberately
wiped his knife."
I glanced at Holmes on hearing the description of the murderer,
which tallied so exactly with his own. There was, however,
no trace of exultation or satisfaction upon his face.
"Did you find nothing in the room which could furnish a clue
to the murderer?" he asked.
"Nothing. Stangerson had Drebber's purse in his pocket,
but it seems that this was usual, as he did all the paying.
There was eighty odd pounds in it, but nothing had been
taken. Whatever the motives of these extraordinary crimes,
robbery is certainly not one of them. There were no papers
or memoranda in the murdered man's pocket, except a single
telegram, dated from Cleveland about a month ago, and
containing the words, `J. H. is in Europe.' There was no
name appended to this message."