The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor
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|"The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor"|
Lord St. Simon finds out the truth, 1892 illustration by Sidney Paget
|Author||Arthur Conan Doyle|
|Series||The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes|
"The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor", one of the 56 short Sherlock Holmes stories written by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is the tenth of the twelve stories collected in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The story was first published in Strand Magazine in April 1892.
The story entails the disappearance of Hatty, Lord St. Simon's bride on the day of their marriage. She participates in the wedding, but disappears from the reception.
The events of the wedding day are most perplexing to Lord St. Simon as it seemed to him that his bride, Miss Hatty Doran of San Francisco, was full of enthusiasm about their impending marriage. St. Simon tells Holmes that he noticed a change in the young lady's mood just after the wedding ceremony. She was uncharacteristically sharp with him. The only thing out of the ordinary at the church where the wedding took place was Hatty's little accident: she dropped her wedding bouquet and a gentleman in the front pew picked it up and handed it back to her.
After the bridal party entered Hatty's father's house for the wedding breakfast, a former companion of St. Simon, the dancer Flora Millar, caused a disturbance at the door and was ejected. Hatty was seen talking to her maid upon arrival at the house; ten minutes into the wedding breakfast, Hatty claimed "a sudden indisposition" and retired to her room. A short time later, it was discovered that she had left the house.
There are many questions that Holmes must sift through. Who was that woman trying to get in to the wedding breakfast? Who was that man in the front pew? Who was that man seen going into Hyde Park with Hatty? Why were Hatty's wedding dress and ring found washed up on the shore of the Serpentine? What had become of her?
For Holmes it proves rather an elementary case, for he has dealt with similar cases and this one is not so complex to unravel, despite the confusion it causes Dr. Watson and Inspector Lestrade. Holmes finds Hatty and the strange man from the front pew, and the dénouement takes the form of Holmes having Hatty explain herself to Lord Robert. Hatty and the mystery man, Francis H. Moulton, were husband and wife. They parted on the day of their wedding so that he could try to amass a fortune by prospecting. He was reported killed in an Apache raid on a mining camp where he was working. Hatty had given him up for dead, met Lord Robert, and decided to marry him, even though her heart still belonged to Frank. Frank had only been taken prisoner by the Apache raiders, and he escaped and tracked Hatty to London. He arrived at the church in time for the ceremony and she recognized him instantly. Rather than have her make a scene at the church, he gestured her to be silent, and wrote a note which he slipped to her as he returned her bouquet. She had wanted to abscond without ever telling anybody, but Holmes had tracked them down and convinced them that it would be better to have the full truth. Lord Robert is unmoved by Hatty's apologies and feels that he has been very ill used.
Doyle's description of Dr. Watson's wound is inconsistent with what was written about it in the novel A Study in Scarlet, in which Watson states "I was struck on the shoulder by a Jezail bullet, which shattered the bone and grazed the subclavian artery." Lady Saint Simon is not the correct title for the wife of a second son. It should be Lady Robert, one would not address a second son as Lord Saint Simon but as Lord Robert.
Anglo-American relations, as they were at the time of writing, are an important part of the story's background. The highly formal lifestyle of the British aristocracy is contrasted with the free and wild American frontier manners. Interestingly the British Sherlock Homes shows a marked preference for the latter - which might be Doyle's own opinion.
"The Noble Bachelor" was dramatised for BBC Radio 4 in 1991 by Bert Coules as part of his complete radio adaptation of the canon, starring Clive Merrison as Holmes and Michael Williams as Watson, and featuring Donald Gee as Inspector Lestrade.
The 1992 episode "The Eligible Bachelor" of the Granada TV series Sherlock Holmes series is an adaptation of the story with significant changes and the inclusion of elements from other parts of the Holmes canon. It features Paris Jefferson in the role of Hatty (Henrietta) and stars Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes, Edward Hardwicke as Dr. Watson and Simon Williams as Robert, Lord St. Simon.
- Bert Coules. "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes". The BBC complete audio Sherlock Holmes. Retrieved 12 December 2016.