The Adventure of the Stockbroker's Clerk

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"The Adventure of the Stockbroker's Clerk"
Author Arthur Conan Doyle
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
Published in Strand Magazine
Publication date March 1893

"The Adventure of the Stockbroker's Clerk" is one of the 56 short Sherlock Holmes stories written by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is the fourth of the twelve collected in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes in most British editions of the canon, and third of eleven in most American ones (owing to the omission of the "scandalous" "Adventure of the Cardboard Box"). The story was first published in Strand Magazine in March 1893[1] and featured seven illustrations by Sidney Paget.

Synopsis[edit]

A young clerk, Hall Pycroft, consults Holmes with his suspicions concerning a company that has offered him a very well-paid job. Holmes, Watson and Pycroft travel by train to Birmingham, where the job is initially to be based, and Pycroft explains that he was recently made redundant from (i. e., was discharged by) a stockbroking house. He eventually secured a new post with another stockbrokers, Mawson and Williams, in Lombard Street in the City. Before taking up the job, he was approached by Arthur Pinner, who offered him a managership with a newly established hardware distribution company, to be based in France.

Pycroft is sent to Birmingham to meet Pinner's brother and company co-founder, Harry Pinner. He is offered a very well-paid post with one hundred pounds in advance, and is asked to sign a document accepting the post, and is also asked not to send a letter of resignation to his would-be employers. He immediately commences his duties, but he is concerned about the unprofessional aspects of the business and their sparse offices, as well as the suspicious fact that the two Pinners have a distinctive gold filling in their teeth in the same place, suggesting that they might be the same man.

When the trio arrive at the Birmingham office, with Holmes and Watson presented as fellow job-seekers, Pinner is reading a London newspaper and is clearly in shock. As they leave, he attempts suicide, but Watson is able to revive him. Holmes concludes that the story of the brothers is a fabrication and that there is only one 'Pinner'; lacking enough men to make their attempt to deceive Pycroft convincing, Pinner had attempted to pose as his brother to make up the numbers in the hope that Pycroft would dismiss the similarities between them as a family resemblance. He further deduces that the whole point of the exercise was to obtain an example of Pycroft's handwriting so that a 'fake' Pycroft may be employed at Mawsons (Hence why they asked him to not officially resign his post). Mawsons was keeping a vast stock of valuable securities, and 'Pycroft' was to be a safebreaker.

Holmes goes to the office. Illustration by Sidney Paget.

From the newspaper, they learn that Mawson & Williams have suffered an attempted robbery, but that the criminal had been captured, although the weekend watchman has been murdered. Beddington, the forger and cracksman, was the miscreant, masquerading as Pycroft, and his brother was masquerading as Pinner. Nearly a hundred thousand pounds' worth of American railway bonds, with a large amount of scrip in mines and other companies, was taken, but recovered by the police from the would-be thief.

As the police are called to arrest 'Pinner', Holmes observes that "Human nature is a strange mixture, Watson. You see that even a villain and murderer can inspire such affection that his brother turns to suicide when he learns that his neck is forfeited".

Commentary[edit]

This story's plot is reminiscent of that in "The Red-Headed League", for it, too, involves an elaborate hoax designed to remove an inconvenient person from the scene for a while so that a crime can be committed. The same parallel can be seen in "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs".[2] However, in contrast to these other two cases, the 'inconvenient person' in this case proves insightful enough to realize at least some of the deception on his own accord, whereas the other cases see Holmes being brought in to investigate more peripheral matters.

It is worth noting that Holmes is not involved in the apprehension of the thief, who has already been arrested, but is able to turn the accomplice over to the police.[3]

Adaptations[edit]

"The Stockbroker's Clerk" was dramatised for BBC Radio 4 in 1992 as part of Bert Coules' complete radio adaptation of the canon, starring Clive Merrison as Holmes and Michael Williams as Watson, and featured Sean Barrett as Mr Pinner.[4]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Klinger, Leslie S. (2005). The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes Volume I. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 474. ISBN 0-393-05916-2. 
  2. ^ Klinger, Leslie S. (2005). The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes Volume I. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 500. ISBN 0-393-05916-2. 
  3. ^ Klinger, Leslie S. (2005). The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes Volume I. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 497–500. ISBN 0-393-05916-2. 
  4. ^ Bert Coules. "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes". The BBC complete audio Sherlock Holmes. Retrieved 12 December 2016.