The lauriston garden myster

Words: 1000+

Skills: Character Traits Context Clues Summary

Grades: 9th 10th 11th 12th

Topics: Adventure / Thriller and Mystery / Suspense / Horror

Genres: Prose

Lexile Range:

Lexile Measure:

CCSS: Reading: Literature

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The Lauriston Garden Mystery


by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from A Study in Scarlet

Chapter III passage: Sherlock Holmes is a master of deduction, and this passage is from the first book to introduce this iconic British detective. Students will read the passage and answer questions about Holmes' deductions, the characters, and the language.

Reading Comprehension Passage

The Lauriston Garden Mystery

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from A Study in Scarlet

Sherlock Holmes is a London private detective in the 1880s. His new roommate is Dr. John Watson, a former Army medical doctor. As this passage opens, Holmes has been called by the police to help them with a possible murder case. Holmes wants to decline the request, but Watson encourages him to accept. Holmes asks Watson to come with him to the murder scene. As they approach the building, Holmes carefully studies the garden and the road leading up to the house.

Inspector Gregson and Inspector Lestrade are police inspectors. The story is told by Dr. Watson.

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Sherlock Holmes chuckled to himself, and appeared to be about to make some remark, when Lestrade, who had been in the front room while we were holding this conversation in the hall, reappeared upon the scene, rubbing his hands in a pompous and self-satisfied manner.

“Mr. Gregson,” he said, “I have just made a discovery of the highest importance, and one which would have been overlooked had I not made a careful examination of the walls.”

The little man’s eyes sparkled as he spoke, and he was evidently in a state of suppressed exultation at having scored a point against his colleague.

“Come here,” he said, bustling back into the room, the atmosphere of which felt clearer since the removal of its ghastly inmate. “Now, stand there!”

He struck a match on his boot and held it up against the wall.

“Look at that!” he said, triumphantly.

I have remarked that the paper had fallen away in parts. In this particular corner of the room a large piece had peeled off, leaving a yellow square of coarse plastering. Across this bare space there was scrawled in blood-red letters a single word—

RACHE.

“What do you think of that?” cried the detective, with the air of a showman exhibiting his show. “This was overlooked because it was in the darkest corner of the room, and no one thought of looking there. The murderer has written it with his or her own blood. See this smear where it has trickled down the wall! That disposes of the idea of suicide anyhow. Why was that corner chosen to write it on? I will tell you. See that candle on the mantelpiece. It was lit at the time, and if it was lit this corner would be the brightest instead of the darkest portion of the wall.”

“And what does it mean now that you have found it?” asked Gregson in a depreciatory voice.

“Mean? Why, it means that the writer was going to put the female name Rachel, but was disturbed before he or she had time to finish. You mark my words, when this case comes to be cleared up you will find that a woman named Rachel has something to do with it. It’s all very well for you to laugh, Mr. Sherlock Holmes. You may be very smart and clever, but the old hound is the best, when all is said and done.” “I really beg your pardon!” said my companion, who had ruffled the little man’s temper by bursting into an explosion of laughter. “You certainly have the credit of being the first of us to find this out, and, as you say, it bears every mark of having been written by the other participant in last night’s mystery. I have not had time to examine this room yet, but with your permission I shall do so now.”

As he spoke, he whipped a tape measure and a large round magnifying glass from his pocket. With these two implements he trotted noiselessly about the room, sometimes stopping, occasionally kneeling, and once lying flat upon his face. So engrossed was he with his occupation that he appeared to have forgotten our presence, for he chattered away to himself under his breath the whole time, keeping up a running fire of exclamations, groans, whistles, and little cries suggestive of encouragement and of hope. As I watched him I was irresistibly reminded of a pure-blooded well-trained foxhound as it dashes backwards and forwards through the covert, whining in its eagerness, until it comes across the lost scent. For twenty minutes or more he continued his researches, measuring with the most exact care the distance between marks which were entirely invisible to me, and occasionally applying his tape to the walls in an equally incomprehensible manner. In one place he gathered up very carefully a little pile of grey dust from the floor, and packed it away in an envelope. Finally, he examined with his glass the word upon the wall, going over every letter of it with the most minute exactness. This done, he appeared to be satisfied, for he replaced his tape and his glass in his pocket.

“They say that genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains,” he remarked with a smile. “It’s a very bad definition, but it does apply to detective work.”

Gregson and Lestrade had watched the maneuvers of their amateur companion with considerable curiosity and some contempt. They evidently failed to appreciate the fact, which I had begun to realize, that Sherlock Holmes’ smallest actions were all directed towards some definite and practical end.

“What do you think of it, sir?” they both asked.

“It would be robbing you of the credit of the case if I was to presume to help you,” remarked my friend. “You are doing so well now that it would be a pity for anyone to interfere.” There was a world of sarcasm in his voice as he spoke. “If you will let me know how your investigations go,” he continued, “I shall be happy to give you any help I can. In the meantime I should like to speak to the constable who found the body. Can you give me his name and address?”

Lestrade glanced at his note-book. “John Rance,” he said. “He is off duty now. You will find him at 46, Audley Court, Kennington Park Gate.”

Holmes took a note of the address.

“Come along, Doctor,” he said; “we shall go and look him up. I’ll tell you one thing which may help you in the case,” he continued, turning to the two detectives. “There has been murder done, and the murderer was a man. He was more than six feet high, was in the prime of life, had small feet for his height, wore coarse, square-toed boots and smoked a Trichinopoly cigar. He came here with his victim in a four-wheeled cab, which was drawn by a horse with three old shoes and one new one on his off fore leg. In all probability the murderer had a florid face, and the finger-nails of his right hand were remarkably long. These are only a few indications, but they may assist you.”

Lestrade and Gregson glanced at each other with an incredulous smile.

“If this man was murdered, how was it done?” asked the former.

“Poison,” said Sherlock Holmes curtly, and strode off. “One other thing, Lestrade,” he added, turning round at the door: “‘Rache,’ is the German for ‘revenge;’ so don’t lose your time looking for Miss Rachel.”

With which Parthian shot he walked away, leaving the two rivals open-mouthed behind him.

Passage Only

Reading Comprehension Questions

1. When Dr. Watson says, "As I watched him I was irresistibly reminded of a pure-blooded well-trained foxhound," he is using what type of figurative language?


2. What does incredulous mean here: "Lestrade and Gregson glanced at each other with an incredulous smile"?


3. How do Gregson and Lastrade feel about Holmes? Use quotations from the text to support your answer.


4. Take one of the Holmes' deductions about the murderer and explain how you think he may have reached his conclusion.