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THE OMAITA ILLUSTRATED T.ETf. Return of Sherlock Holmes-Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton VII. (Copj right. H"4. by A. Conan Doyle and Collier's Weeklv.t (Copyright. I, by M-Clure. Phillips Co.) T In years since the Incidents of which I speak took place, and yet It in with diffidence that I allude K3'f'I to them- Kor a ,on uik1! nd I lit TP even with the utmost discretion and reticence. It would have been Impossi ble to make the facta public, but now the principal person concerned la beyond the reaxh of human law. and with due suppres sion the atory may be told In auch fashion i to Injure no one It records an abso lutely unique experience In the career both of Mr. Sherlock Holmes and of myaelf. The reader will excuse me If I conceal the date or any other fact by which he might trace the actual occurrence. We had been out for one of our evening rambles, Holmes and I, and had returned about o'clock on a cold, frosty, winter's evening. As Holmes turned up the lamp the light foil upon a card on the table, lie glanced at It, and then, with an ejacu lation of disgust, threw It on the floor. I picked It up and read: CHARLES At'Gl 'HTl'S MILVERTON, APFLEDORB TOWERS, AGENT. HAMPBTEAD. Who Is her I asked. "The worst man In London," Holmes in sworcd, as he sat down and stretched his lgs before the fire. "Is there anything on the back of the card?" I turned It over. "Will call at :30-C. A. M.," I read. "Hum! He's about due. Do you feel a creeping, shrinking sensation, Watson, when you stand before the serpents In the Zoo and soc the slithery, gliding, venomous creatures, with thrlr deadly eyes snd wicked, flattened faces? Well, that's how Milverton Impresses me. I've had to do with fifty murderers In my eareor, but the worst of them never gave mo the repulsion which I have for this fellow. And yet I can't get out of doing business with him Indeed, he Is hern at my Invitation." "Rut who Is he?" "I ll tell you, Watson. He Is the king of all the blackmailers. Heaven help the man, and still more the woman, whose se cret and reputation comos Into the power of Milverton! With a smiling face and a hrart of marble, he will squeeze and squeeze until he has drained them dry. The fellow In a genius In his way, and would have made his mark In some more savory trade. His method Is as follows: He allows It to be known that he Is pre ps re1 to pay very high Sums for letters which compromise people of wealth and position. He receives these warea not only from treacherous valets or maids, but fre quently from gentepl ruffians, who have gained the confidence and affection of trusting women. He deals with no nig gard hand. I happen to know that he paid 700 to a footman for a note two lines lti length, and that the ruin of a noble family was the result. Everything which Is In the market goes to Milver ton, and there are hundreds In this great city who turn white at his name. No one knows where his grip may fall, for he Is far too rich nnd far too cunning to work from hand to mouth. He will hold a card back for years In ordr to play It at the moment when the stake la best worth winning. I have said that he Is the worst man In London, and I would ask you how could one compare the ruffian, who In hot blood bludgeons his mate, with this man, who methodically and at his leisure tortures the soul and wrings the nerves In , order to add to his already swollen money bags?" I had seldom heard my friend speak with such Intensity of feeling. "But surely," said I, "the fellow must be within the grasp of the law?" "Technically, no doubt, but practically not. What would It profit a woman, for example, to get him a few months' Im prisonment, If her own ruin must Imme diately follow? His victims dare not hit back. If ever ho blackmailed an Innocent person, then Indeed we should have him, but he Is aa cunning as the Evil One. No, no, we must find other ways to fight him." "And why is he here?" "Because n Illustrious client has placed her piteous case In my hands. It is the I,ady Eva Black well, the" most beautiful 'ebutante of last season. She Is to be married In a fortnight to the earl of Povercourt. This fiend has several Impru dent letters Imprudent, Watson, nothing worse which were written to an impecu nious young 'squire In the country. .They would suffice to break off the match. Mil verton will send the letters to the earl unless a large sum of money Is paid him. I have bean commissioned to meet him and to make the best terms I can." At that Instant there was a clatter and a rattle in the sreet below. Looking down I saw a stately carriage and pair, the brilliant lamps gleaming on the glossy haunches of the noble chestnuts. A foot man opened the door, and a small, stout man in a shaggy astrakhan overcoat de scended. A minute later he was in the room. Charles Augustus Milverton was a man of 60, with a large, Intellectual head, a round, plump, hairless face, a perpetual, frosen smile, and two keen gray eyes, which gleamed brightly from behind broad, gold-ritnmed glasses. There was something of Mr. Pickwick's benevolence In his ap pearance, marred only by the Insincerity of the fixed smile and by the hard glitter of those restless and penetrating eyes. His voice was as smooth and suave as his countenance, as he advanced with a plump little hand extended, murmuring his regret for having missed us at his first visit. Holmes disregarded the outstretched hsnd and looked at him with a face of granite. Milverton amlle broadened, he shrugged his shoulders, removed his overcoat, folded it with great deliberation over the back of a chair, and then took a seat. "This gontleman?" said he, with a' wave In my direction. "Is it discreet? Is It right?" "Pr. Watson is my friend and partner." "Very good, Mr. Holmes. It is only !n your client's Interests that I protested. The matter la so very delicate" "Dr. Watson has already heard of it." "Then we can proceed to business. Ton say that you are acting for I-ady EVa. Has she empowered you to accept my terms?" "What are your terms?" "Seven thousand pounds." "And the alternative." "My dear sir. It Is painful for me to dls suas It, but If the money Is not paid on the 14th there, certsinly will be no marriage on the 18th." Ills insufferable smile was more complacent than ever. Holmes thought for a little. "You appear to me," he said, at last, "to be taking matters too much for granted. I o4n, of course, familiar with the contents of these letters. My client will certainly do what I may advise. I shall counsel her to tell her future husband the whole story, and to trust to his generosity." Milverton chuckled. "You evidently do not know the earl," said he. From the baffled look upon Holmes' face I could see clearly that he did. "What harm Is there In the letters?" he asked. "They are sprightly very sprightly," Mil verton answered. "The lady was a charm ing correspondent. Rut I can assure you that the earl of Povercourt would fail to appreciate them. However, since you think ether-wise, we wilt let It rest at that. It Is purely t matter ef buslne. If you think mm rt mm it A, ill m m mi :?lilf 1 h Milk t-fr ... 1 THERE WAS SOMETHING OF MR, PICKWICK'S BENEVOLENCE IN HIS LOOKS. that It is in the best interests of your client that these letters should be placed in the hands of the earl, then you would indeed be foolish to pay so large a sum of money to regain them." He rose and seized his astrakhan coat. Holmes was gray with anger and mor tification. "Walt a little." he said, "you go too fast. We should certainly make every effort to avoid scandal in so delicate a matter." Milverton relapsed into his chair. "I was sure that you would- see it in that light," he purred. "At the same time," Holmes continued, "Lady Eva Is not a wealthy woman. I at-Bure you that 2,000 would be a drain upon her resources, and that the sum you name is utterly beyond her power. I beg, , therefore, that you will moderate your demands, and that you will return the letters at the price I indicate, which Is, I assure you, the highest that you can get." Milverton's smile broadened and his eyes twinkled humorously. "I am aware that what you say is true about the lady's resources," said he. "At the same time you must admit that the occasion of a lady's marriage is a very suitable time, for her friends and relatives to make some little effort upon her behalf. They may hesitate as to an acceptable wedding present. Let ne as sure them that this Utile bundle of letter would give more joy than all the can delabra and butter dishes in Iondon." "It Is impossible," said Holmes. , "Dear me, dear me, how unfortunate!" cried Milverton, taking out a bulky pocket book. "1 cannot help thinking that women are Ill-advised in not making an effort. Look at this!" lie held up a lit tie note with a coat-of-arms upon the envelope. "That belongs to well, perhups It Is hardly fair to tell the name until tomorrow morn ing. But at that time It will be in the hands of the woman's husband. And all because she will not And a beggarly sum which she could get by turning her dia monds Into paste. It Is such a pity. Now, you remember the sudden end of the en gagement between the Hon. Miss Miles and Colonel Dorking'.' Only .two days before the wedding there was a paragraph In the Morning Post to say that it was all off. Ail why? It is almost incredible, but the absurd sum of 1,200 would have settled the whole question. Is It not pitiful? And here I Ilnd you, a man of sense, boggling about terms, when your client's future and honor are at stake. You surprise mo, Mr. Holmes." "What I say Is true," Holmes answered. "The money cannot lie- found. Surely It Is better for you to take the substantial sum which I offer than to ruin this woman's career, which can prolit you in no way." "There you make a mistake, Mr. Holmes, an exposure would protU me indirectly to a considerable extent. I have eight or ten similar cases maturing. If It was circulated among them that I had made a severe example of the Lady Eva. I should find all of them much more opon to reason. You see my point?" Holmes sprang from his chair. "Get behind him. Watson!" Don't let him out! Now, sir, let us ace the contents of that note-book." Milverton had gilded as quirk as a rat to the side of the room, and olood with his back against the wall. ."Mr. Holmes, Mr. Holmes." he said, turn ing the front of bis coat and exhibiting the butt of a large revolver, which projected from the inside pocket. "I have been expecting you to do something original. This has been done so often, and what good has ever come It? I assure you that I am armed to the teeth, and I am per fectly prepared to use my weapons, know ing that the law will support me. Be sides, your supposition that I would bring the letters here In a note-book Is entirely mistaken. I would do nothing so foolish. And now, gentlemen, I have one or two little interviews this evening, and it Is a iong drive to Hampstead." He stepped forward, took up hls coat, laid his hand on his revolver, and turned to the door. I picked up a chair, but Holmes shook his head, and I laid it down again. With a bow, a smile, and a twinkle, Milverton was out of the room, and a few moments after we heard the slam of the carriage door and the rattle of the wheels as he drove away. Holmes sat motionless by the Are, his hands buried deep In his trouser pockets, his chin sunk upon his breast, his eyes fixed upon the glowltig embers. For half an hour he was silent and still. Then, with the gesture of a man who has taken his decision, he sprang to his feet and passed Into his bedroom. A little later a rakish young workman, with a goatee beard and a swagger, lit his clay pipe at the lamp before descending Into the street. "I'll be back some time, Watson," said lie, and vanished Into the night. I understood that he had opened the cam paign against Charles Auguatus Milverton, but I little dreamed the Btraiige shape which that campaign was destined to take." For some days Holmes cuine and went at all hours In this allire, but beyond a remark that his time was spent at IlampHead, and that it was not wasted, I knew nothing of what he was doing. At last, however, on a wild, tempestuous evening, when the wind screamed and rallied against the windows, he returned from his last expedition, and ' having removed his disguise lie sal before the file and laugh d heartily in his hilent Inward fashion. "You would not call me a marrying man, Watson?" "No, Indeed'" "You'll be Interested to hear that I'm engaged." "My dear felow! I cnnnrat " "To Milverton's housemaid." "Good heavens, Holmes!" "I wanted Information, Watson." "Surely ynu have gone too far'.''' "It was a most necessary step. I am a plumber with a rising business. Escott by name I have walked out with her each evening, and 1 talked with her. Good heavens, those talks!" However, I have got all I wanted. I know Milverton's house as I know the palm of my hand." ' Hut the girl. Holmes?'' He shrugged his shoulders. "You can't help it. my dear Watson, You must play your cards as best you can when such a stake Is on the table. How ever. I rejoice to say lh.it I have a haled rival, who will certainly cut me out the Instant that my buck la tinned. What a splendid night It is!" "You llko the weather?" "It suits my purpose. Watson, I mean to burgle Milverton's house tonight " I had a catching of the breath and my skin went cold nl the words, which were lowly uttered. In a tonn of concent rated resolution. As a flash of lightning in the night shows up In an instant every detail of a wild landscape, so at one glance I seemed to see every iossible result of such an action-the detection, the capture, the honored career ending In Irreparable fiil ure and disgrace, my friend himself lying at the mercy of the odious Milverton. "For heaven's sake. Holmes, think what you are doing." I cried. "My dear fellow. I have given It every consideration. I am never precipitate In my actions, nor would I atlopt so energetic and. Indeed, so dangerous a course If any other were possible. 1-et us look at the matter clearly and fairly, I suppose that you will admit that the action is morally Justifiable, though technically criminal. To burgle his house Is no more than to forcibly take his pocketbook un action .In which you are prepared to aid me." I turnetl It over in. my mind. "Yes." I said, "it Is morally Justifiable so long as our object is to tako no articles save those which are used for an illegal purpose." "Exactly. Since It Is morally Justifiable, I have only to consider the question of personal risk. Surely a gentleman should not lay much stress upon this when a woman Is in most desperate need of his help?" "You will he In such a false position." "Well, that Is part of the risk. There Is no other possible wny of regaining these letters. The unfortunate woman has not the money, and there are none of her people in whom she could confide. Tomor row is the last day of grace, and unless we can get the letters tonight this villlan will lw as goixl as his word and will bring about her ruin. I must, therefore, aban don my client to her fate or I must play tills last card. Between ourselves, Wat son, It's a sporting duel between this fel low Milverton and me. Ho had, as you saw, the best of the first exchanges, but my" self respect and my reputation are concerned to light it to a finish." "Well, I don't like it. but I suppose It must be." said I. "When do we start?" "You are not coming." "Then you are not going." said I. "I glv-s you my word of honor and I never broke it In my life that I will take a cab straight to the polico station and give you nway unless you let me share this adven ture with you." "You can't help me." "How do you know that? You can't toll what may happen. Anyway, my reso lution Is taken. Other people beside you have self-respect and even reputations." Holmes had looked annoyed, but his brow cleared, and ho ciafiped me on the shoulder. "Well, well, my dear fellow, be it so. Wo have shared this same room for some years, and It would be amusing If we ended by sharing the same cell. You know. Watson, I don't mind confessing to you that I have always had nn idea, that I would have made a highly efficient criminal. This Is the chance of my life time In that direction. See here!" He took a neat little leather case out of a drawer, and opening It he exhibited a num ber of shining instruments. "This is a first-class, up-to-date burgling but with nlckle plated Jemmy, diamond tipped first-class up-to-date burgling kit with modern improvement which the march of civilization demands. Here, too, is my dark lantern. Everything Is In order. Have you a pair of silent shoes?" "I have rubher-solcd tennis shoes." "Excellent! and a mask?" "T can make a couple out of black silk." ."I can see that you have a strong, natural turn for this sort of thing. Very good, do you make the masks. We shall have some cold supper before wo start. It Is now 9:30. At 11:00 we shall drive as far as Church Row. It Is a quarter of an hour's walk from there to An pledore Towers. We shall bo at work before midnight. Milverton Is a heavy sleeper, and retires punctually at 10:30. With any luck we should be back here by two. with the Lady Eva's letters In my pocket." Holmes and I put on our dress-clothes, so that we might appear to be two theater goers homeward bound. In Oxford street .we picked up a hansome and drove to an address In Hampstead. Here we paid off our cab, and with our great coats buttoned up for It was bitterly cold and the wind seemed to blow through us, we walked along the edge of the heath. "It's a business that needs delicate treat ment," said Holmes. "These documents are contained In a safe In the fellow's study, and the study is the ante-room of his bed-chamber. On the other hand, like all these stout, little men who do themselves well, he is a plethoric sleeper. Agatha that's my fiancee says It is a Joke in the servants' hall that It's im possible to wake the master. He has a secretary who is devoted to his interests, and never budges from the study all day. That's why we are going at night. Then he has a beast of a dog which roams the garden. I met Agatha late the last two evenings, and she locks the brute up so as to give me a clear run. This is the house, this big one in its own grounds. Through the gate now to the right among the laurels. We might put on our masks here, I think. You see, there is not a glimmer of light in any of the windows, and everything la working splendidly." With our black silk face-coverings, which turned us into two of the most truculent figures in London, we stole up to the silent, gloomy house. A sort of tiled veranda extended along one side of It, lined by several windows and two doors. "That's his bedroom," Holmes whispered. "This door opens straight Into the study. It would suit us best, but it ia bolted as well as lucked, and we should make too much noise getting in. Come round here. There's u greenhouse which opens into the drawing-room." The place was locked, but Holmes removed a circle of glass and turned the key from tho inside. An instant after wards he li:ul closed the door behind us, and no had become felons in the eyes of the law. The thick, warm air of the con servatory and the rich, choking fragrance of exotic plants look us by the throat. He seized my hand in the darkness and led me swiftly past banks of shrubs which brushed against our faces. Holmes had lemarkuble powers, carefully cultivated, of seeing in the dark. Still holding my hand in one of his, he opened a door, and I was vaguely conscious that we had entered a large room In which a cigar had been smoked not long before. Hu felt his way among the furniture, opened another door, and closed j behind us. Putting out my hand I felt several coals hanging from the wall, and understood that 1 was In a pas biie. We passed along it, and Holmes very gently opened a door upon the right hand side. Something rushed out at us and my heart sprung into my mouth, but I could have laughed when 1 realized thut It was the cat. A fire was burning in this new room, and ugain the air was heavy with tobacco smoke. Holmes entered on tiptoe, waiting for me to follow, and then very gently closed the door. We were In Milverton's study, and a portiere at the farther side showed the entrance to his bedt oo:u. It w.is a good tire, and the room was Illuminated liy It. Near the door I saw the gl"ani of an electric switch, but It was unnecessary, even If It had been safe, to turn It on. At one side of tho fireplace uus a heavy curtain which covered the bay window we had seen from outside. On the other aide was the door which communicated with the veranda. A desk stood In the renter, with a turning-chair of shining red leather. Opposite was a large bookcase, with a marble bust of Athene on the top. In the comer, between the bookcase and the wall, there stood a tall, green safe, the firelight flash ing back from the polished brass knobs upon Its face. Holmes stole across, and looked at It. Then he crept to the door of tho bed room and stood with slanting head, listening Intently. No sound came from within. Meanwhile it had struck me that it would be wise to secure our re treat through the outer door, so I exam ined It. To my smasement It was neither locked nor bolted. I touched Holmes on the arm, and he turned his masked face in that direction. I saw him start, and he was evidently as surprised as I. "I don't like It," he wnispered, putting his lips to my very ar. "I can't quite make It out. Anyhow, we have no time to lose." "Can I do anything?" "Yes. stand by the door. If you hear any one come, bolt It on the inside, nnd we can get away as we came. If they come the other may. we can get through the door If our Job Is done, or hide behind these window curtains if it Is not. Do you understand?" I nodded, and stood by the door. My first feeling of fear had passed away, and I thrilled now with a keener sest than I had ever enjoyed when we were the de fenders of the law Instead of Its deflers. Tlie high object of our mission, the con sciousness that It was unselfish and chiv alrous, the villainous character of our op ponent, all added to the sporting interest of the adventure. Far from feeling guilty, I rejoiced and exulted in our dangers. With a glow of admiration I watched Holmes unrolling his case of Instruments and choosing his tool witli the calm, sci entific accuracy of a surgeon who per forins a delicate operation. I knew that the opening of safes was a particular hobby with him, and I understood the Joy which it gave him to be confronted with this green and gold monster, the dragon which held in its maw the reputations, of many fair women. Turning up tho cuffs of his dress coal he had placed his over coat on a chair Holmes laid out two drill, a Jemmy, and several skeleton keys. I stood at the center door with my eyes glancing at each of the others, ready for any emergency, though, indeed, my plans were somewhat vague aa to what I should d') if we were interrupted. For half an hour Holmes worked with con centrated energy, laying down one tool, picking up another, handling each with the strength and delicacy of the trained m. chatilc. Finally I heard a click, the broad green door swung open, nnd inside I had a glimpse of a number of paper packets, each tied, scaled and inscribed. Holmes picked one out, but it was hard to read by the flickering fire, and he drew out his little dark lantern, for it was too dan gerous, with Milverton in the next room, to switch on the electric light. Suddenly I saw him halt, listen intently, and then in an instant he had swung the door of the safe to, picked up his coat, stuffed his tools into the pockets, and darted behind the window curtain, motioning me to do the same. It was only when I had joined him there that I heard what bad alarmed his quicker senses. There was a noise somewhere within the house. A door slammed in the distance. Then a confused, dull murmur broke itself into the measured thud of heavy footsteps rapidly approaching. They were in the passage outside the room. They paused at the door. The door opened. There was a sharp snick as the electric light was turned on. The door closed once more, and the pungent reek of a strong cigar was borne to our nostrils. Then the footsteps continued backwards and for wards, backwards and forwards, within a few yards of us. Finally there was a creak from a chair, and the footsteps ceased Then a key clicked In a lock, and I heard the rustle of papers. So far I had not dared to look cut. but now I gently parted the division of the curtains In front of me and peeped through. From the pressure of Holmes' shoulder against mine I knew that he was sharing my observations. Right In front of us, and almost within our reach, was the broad, rounded back of Milverton. It was evident that we had entirely miscal culated his movements, that he had never been to his bed room, but that he had been sitting up In some smoking or billiard room in the farther wing of the house, the windows of which we had not seen. His broad, grissled head, with Its shining patch of baldness, was In the Immediate fore ground of our vision. He was leaning far back In the red leather chair, his legs outstretched, a long, black cigar projecting at an angle from his mouth. He woro a semi-military smoking Jacket, claret-colored, with a black velvet collar. In his hand he held a long legal document, which he was reading In an Indolent fashion, Mowing rings of tobacco smoke from his lips as he did so. There was no rromlse of a speedy departure in his composed bearing and his comfortable attitude. I felt Holmes' hand steal Into mine and give me a reassuring shake, ns If to say that the situation was within his powers, and that he was easy In his mind. I was not sure whether he had seen what whs only too obvious from my position, that the door, of the safe was Imperfectly closed, and that Milverton might at any moment observe It, In my own mind I had deter mined th U I were sure, from the rigidity of his gaO, that It had caught his eye, I would at once spring out, throw my great coat oyer his head, pinion him and leave the rest to Holmes. But Milverton never looked up. He was languidly Interested by the papers In his hand, and page after page was turned as he followed the argument of the lawyer. At least, I thought, when he had finished the document and the cigar ho will go to hie room, but before he had reached the end of either there came a remarkable development, which turned our thoughts Into quite another channel. Several times I had observed that Mil verton looked at his watch, and once he had risen and sat down again, with a ges ture of impatience. Tho Idea, however, that he might have an appointment at so strange an hour never occurred to mo until a faint sound reached my cars from the veranda outside. Milverton dropped his papers and sat rigid in his chair. The sound was repeated, and then there came a gentle tap at the door. Milverton rose and opened It. "Well," said he, curtly, "you are nearly half an hour late." So this was the explanation of the un locked door and of the nocturnal vigil of Milvorton. There wa the gentlo rustle of a woman's dress. I had closed the slit be tween the curtains as Milverton's face had turned In our direction, but now I ventured vory carefully to open It once more. He had resumed his seat, tho cigar still pro jecting at an Insolent angle from the cor ner of his mouth. In front of him, in the full glare of the electric light, there stood a tall, slim, dark woman, a veil over her face, a mantle drawn round her chin. Her breath came quick and fast, and every inch of the lithe figure was quivering with strong emotion. "Well," said Milverton, "you've made me lose a good night's rest, my dear. I hope you'll prove worth it. You couldn't come any other time eh?" The woman shook her head. "Well, if you couldn't you couldn't. If the countess is a hard mistress you have your chance to get level with her now. Bless the girl, what are you shivering; about? That's right. Pull yourself together. Now, let us get down to business." He took a' notebook from the drawer of his desk. "You say that you have five letters which compromise the Countess d'Albert. You want to sell them. I want to buy them, fo far so good. It only remains to fix a prlc. I should want to inspect the letters; ol course. If they are really good specimens Great Heavens, Is It youT" The woman, without a word, had raised her veil and dropped the mantle from her chin. It was a dark, handsome, dear-cut fare which confronted Milverton face with a curved nose, strong, dark eyebrows shading hard, glittering eyes and a straight, thln-llpped mouth set la a dangerous smile. "It la I." she said, "the woman whose lire you have ruined." Milverton laughed, but fear vibrated in his voice. "You were mo very obstinate." said he. "Why did you drive me to such extremities? I assure you I wouldn't hurt a fly of my own accord, but every man has his business, and what waa I to do? I put the price well within your means. Tou would not pay." "So you sent the letter to my husband, and he the noblest gentleman that evei lived, a man whose boots I waa never worthy to lace he broke his gallant heart and died. You remember that last night, when I enme through that door, I begged nnd prayed you for ntercy, and you laughed In my face as you are trying to laugh now. only your coward heart cannot keep your lips from twitching? Yes, you never thought to see me here again, but It was that night which taught me how I could meet you face to face, and alone. Well. Charles Milverton, what have you to say?" "Don't Imagine that you can bully me," said he, rising to his feet. "I have only to raise my voice, nnd I could call my servants and have you arrested. Hut I will make al lowance for your natural anger. Leave the room at once as you came, and I will say no more." Tho woman stood with her hand burled in her bosom, and tho same deadly smile on her thin lips. "You will mln no more lives as you have ruined mine. You will wring no more hearts as you wrung mine. I will free the world of a poisonous thing. Take that, you hound and that! and that! and that! and that!" She had drawn a Ittle gleaming revolver, and emptied barrel after barrel Into Milverton's body, the muzzle within two feet of his shirt front. He shrank sway and then fell forward upon the table, coughing furiously and clawing among the papers. Then he staggered to his feet, received another shot, and rolled upon tho floor. "You've done me," he cried, and lay still. The woman looked at Mm Intently, and ground her heel Into his up turned faco. She looked again, but there was no sound or movement. I heard a sharp rustle, the night air blow Into the heated room, and the avenger was gone. No Interference upon our part could have saved the man from his fate, but, as tho woman poured bullet after bullet Into Milverton's shrinking body I waa about to spring out, when I felt Holmes' cold, strong grasp upon my wrist. I un derstood the wholo argument of that firm, restraining grip that it was no affair of ours, that justico had overtaken a villain, that wo had our own duties and our own objects, which were not to be lost sight of. But hardly had the woman rushed from the room when Holmes, with swift, silent steps, was over at the other door. He turned tho key In the lock. At the same instant we heard voices In the house and tho sound of hurrying feet. The revolver shots hod roused the household. With per fect coolness Holmes slipped across to the safe, filled his two arms with bundles of letters, and poured them all into the fire. Again and again he did It, until the safe was empty. Some one turned the handle, itnd beat upon the outside of the door. Holmes looked swiftly round. The letter which had been the messenger of death for Milverton lay, all mottled with his blood, upon the table. Holmes tossed It In among the blazing papers. Then he drew (Continued on Page Eight.) Vs. the Readers of - Sherlock Holmes 9 The thirteen famous "Sherlock Holmes" stories now being published by the principal newspapers in the principal cities throughout the United States originally appeared in Collier's a year ago. The right to re-publish them was acquired from Collier's. It was Collier's that induced Conan Doyle to write these stories. There will be no more. The next character to appear on the scene of a national interest at all comparable to " Sherlock Holmes" is " Raffles," the gentleman burg lar, by E. W. Hornung. With him, "burgling" is a fine art that presents many fascinating problems. He is the nearest approach we are likely to have to a successor to Sherlock Holmes. The " Raffles " series is to consist of nine jstories, to be published under the general title of "A Thief in the Night." For the benefit of those who will wish to follow the adventures of " Raffles" as they appear in Collier's, a list of the stories, with the dates of publication, is given below. The fourth of the " Raffles " series of nine stories is entitled " The Criminologists' Club," and is published in the April Household Number of Collier's. On sale now. "By George!" I cried, in udden wave of enthusiasm, "I don't care how you'vo done it, or who has helped you, it'i the biggest thing you ever did in your life! " Thi Criminobgisti' Club. " Out of Paradise" was published December to "The Rest Cure" was published February. 45 'The Chest of Silver" was published Jan. i "The Criminologists' Club is published, Mch. 15 'The Field of Phillipi" will be published April 39 The Sixth Story will be published May ay Tho Eighth Story will be published July 19 The Seventh Story " " June 34 The Ninth Story Auf . 36 Out of the 12,000 manuscripti lubmitted in the great Short Story Contest, Collier's purchased jz in addition to the three prize stories representing the choice of all this material. It seems reasonable to believe that the best fiction for year to come will be tound in Collier's. The $ 5,000 Prize Story will be published in the April Fiction Number. On sale everywhere on and after April 5.