‘Mr Fordham took the paper away with him. My father was now the heir to my uncle’s estate. But everything about it left me with a feeling of dread. As the weeks passed, this feeling began to leave me. Nothing happened in our lives, but I saw a change in my uncle. He drank more and hid away from most people. He spent most of his time in his room with the door locked. Sometimes he ran out of his room and into the garden, carrying a gun in his hand. “I am afraid of no man,” he shouted, “I will not stay in my room! I am not scared to leave!” Then, after he did this, he returned to his room and locked the door. In those days I saw terror in his eyes.’
‘I do not want to take up any more of your time Mr Holmes,’ said John Openshaw, `so I will tell you what happened to my uncle.’ He paused and started his story again.
‘One night, my uncle left his room and never came back. We went to look for him and found him at the bottom of the garden. He was lying face down in a dirty pool of green water. There was no sign of a fight or any violence, and the water was only two feet deep. The police said it was suicide. But I knew my uncle and knew that wasn’t true. No one listened. My father inherited my uncle’s estate and got a sum of money – £14000, which lay in my uncle’s name in the bank.
`Just a moment,’ Holmes said. `This is a very unusual story. Tell me again the date that your uncle got the letter and the date of his death.’
‘The letter came on March 10th, 1883, `said John Openshaw, `and my uncle died seven weeks later, on the night of May 2nd.’
`Thank you,’ said Holmes. `Now please continue.’