Dr. Watson’s old friend from school, Percy Phelps, has contacted him with a letter to come at once to Woking. Percy’s family owns a large house and grounds at Brairbrae. It is there, from his sickbed and sofa downstairs, that Percy will reveal all the details of what has befallen him. Percy is a diplomat in the Foreign Office. His benefactor and boss is his uncle, Lord Holdhurst. Holdhurst instructed Percy to take the only copy of a Naval Treaty with Italy, copy it, and return both documents to him. The document was stolen from Percy’s office when Percy left for just a few moments. Now a nervous wreck, he is desperately trying to save his position and honor, if only so he can marry his fiancee Anne Harrison.
The investigator’s met with Dr. Watson and Baker Street. He showed them the letter from Percy and asked if they might assist Percy as his practice was, just now, too busy for him to make the trip himself.
Joseph, showing concern for the situation, directed the servant staff to show Meredith and Sir Kensington into the downstairs parlor, which until Percy’s collapse had been serving as Joseph’s bedroom.
They met both Percy and Anne in the makeshift bedroom. Percy, laying on the sofa, raised himself and immediately went in to an explanation of what had occurred to bring him to these desperate straights.
After a long explanation of events and some questions from Meredith and her uncle, the duo had a course of action in mind to recover the documents and find those responsible. Percy had even hastily sketched out a map of the Foreign Office to assist the detectives.
Apparent from Percy’s story there were several suspects to question and rule out or look at more closely.
- Joseph Harrison – he was clearly hiding something as his timeline of events did not seem to match up with others recollections.
- The Commissionaire and his wife – the wife had been present at the Foreign Office that evening and had even ran to hide something when confronted at he house by Inspector Forbes and Percy.
- Lord Holdhurst – If he and Percy were truly the only ones that knew of the treaty, perhaps he had something to do with it.
The pair returned to London to begin their investigation in earnest.
Meredith and Bart traveled to the Foreign Office to speak with the Commissionaire and get a look at the scene. In his eagerness to help poor Percy the Commissionaire had to admit the he may have been resting his eyes that night and was worried about losing his job, Uncle Bart was able to get to the truth and allow a grateful Commissionaire to save face. It was also found out and later confirmed that the Commissionaire’s wife was just trying to protect the couples valuables from being repossessed by the law.
Inspecting the office only revealed that no one could’ve been hiding and that for some reason the thief had rung the bell, which is what had woken the Commissionaire as Percy approached to check on where his promised cup of coffee was.
Gaining an interview with Lord Holdhurst, the investigator’s where told that there was no way anyone but his nephew and himself new of the treaty. He was also sure that no foreign power had yet obtained the treaty as it’s contents would have most assuredly been made public by this point. This brought the duo to the conclusion that the thief, for some as yet unknown reason, had been unable to sell the treaty and most likely still had possession of it.
Having ruled out all of their current suspects, but Joseph Harrison, the pair began to look more closely at his statements and purported movements that night and in the intervening time since.
Sir Kensington went to check on the stocks that the investigators had learned the Harrison “dabbled” in and found that Anne’s brother had lost most of his money in a failed railroad startup. Putting motive together with Mr. Harrison’s lies about when he returned to Briarbrae led the detectives to posit that on the night of the theft, Harrison arrived at the Foreign Office through the side door to check on his soon to be brother-in-law, as he had done many times in the past. When he found Percy’s office empty, because the clerk had went to check on his coffee, he rang the bell and then seeing the treaty laying on the desk knew it’s value took it and ran off before Percy could return. When Joseph arrived home he must have hid the treaty in his room, which later that night became Percy’s room after he collapsed. Since Percy had been in the room ever since that would explain why Harrison had been unable to sell the treaty because he could not reclaim it from its hiding place. A crime of opportunity!
Harrison took some convincing, but eventually, retrieved the treaty from it’s hiding place in the parlor/bedroom and returned it. It took a repentant Harrison along with pleadings from his sister to convince Meredith to speak on his behalf which saved him from the noose.
Another case and another success. Watson was proud of the pair and was sure that Holmes, in his way, would have been too.