3. CHAPTER III. THE LAURISTON GARDENS MYSTERY
"So it is. Stop, driver, stop!" We were still a hundred yards
or so from it, but he insisted upon our alighting, and we
finished our journey upon foot.
Number 3, Lauriston Gardens wore an ill-omened and minatory look.
It was one of four which stood back some little way from the
street, two being occupied and two empty. The latter looked
out with three tiers of vacant melancholy windows, which were
blank and dreary, save that here and there a "To Let" card had
developed like a cataract upon the bleared panes. A small garden
sprinkled over with a scattered eruption of sickly plants
separated each of these houses from the street, and was traversed
by a narrow pathway, yellowish in colour, and consisting
apparently of a mixture of clay and of gravel. The whole place
was very sloppy from the rain which had fallen through the night.
The garden was bounded by a three-foot brick wall with a fringe
of wood rails upon the top, and against this wall was leaning a
stalwart police constable, surrounded by a small knot of loafers,
who craned their necks and strained their eyes in the vain hope
of catching some glimpse of the proceedings within.
I had imagined that Sherlock Holmes would at once have
hurried into the house and plunged into a study of the
mystery. Nothing appeared to be further from his intention.
With an air of nonchalance which, under the circumstances,
seemed to me to border upon affectation, he lounged up and
down the pavement, and gazed vacantly at the ground, the sky,
the opposite houses and the line of railings. Having
finished his scrutiny, he proceeded slowly down the path,
or rather down the fringe of grass which flanked the path,
keeping his eyes riveted upon the ground. Twice he stopped,
and once I saw him smile, and heard him utter an exclamation
of satisfaction. There were many marks of footsteps upon the
wet clayey soil, but since the police had been coming and
going over it, I was unable to see how my companion could
hope to learn anything from it. Still I had had such
extraordinary evidence of the quickness of his perceptive
faculties, that I had no doubt that he could see a great deal
which was hidden from me.