The Blue Diamond — Part V
'Please sit down, Mr Ryder. Now, where were we? Ah, yes. You want to know what happened to those twenty four geese. Or perhaps, what happened to one of those geese? You are interested in only one bird, I think. A white goose with a black tail.'
'Oh, sir,' Ryder said excitedly. 'Where did that bird go to?'
'It came here. And it was a most interesting bird. We found something in it after it died. The most wonderful thing. Here it is.'
Our visitor stood up weakly. Holmes opened his safe and took out the blue diamond. In his hand it was cold and beautiful. Ryder looked at the jewel but said nothing.
Holmes spoke for him. 'We know it was you, Ryder,' he said. 'Sit down and have a drink. You look very weak.'
I gave Ryder a drink. He sat down and drank it quickly and looked at Holmes. I saw he was afraid.
'You don't need to tell me much,' said Holmes, 'I know nearly everything about the case. But I have one or two questions to ask. How did you hear of the Countess of Morcar's blue diamond?'
'Catherine Cusack, her maid, told me,' said Ryder.
'I see,' Holmes went on. 'So you and Cusack wanted to get the diamond and sell it for lots of money. You asked John Horner to come and repair the window in the room because you knew of his time in prison. When he left, you took the diamond from the Countess's jewel box. Then you called the police. They came at once. Because of Horner's time in prison they believed he was the thief. It was all very easy. Then…'
'Oh, please, please!' cried Ryder, now on the floor at Holmes's feet. 'Think of my father! Think of my mother! I never did anything wrong before. I'm never going to do it again. Please don't tell the police. I don't want to go to prison.'
'Sit down in your chair!' said Holmes coldly. 'You're crying now, but did you feel sorry for young Horner? He knew nothing of this crime. But the police believed he was a diamond thief, and so he went to court and he is now going to prison — all because of you.'
'I can leave the country, Mr Holmes. Then, when I don't go to court, Horner can leave prison.'
'We can see about that later!' said Holmes. 'But now please tell me, Mr Ryder. How did the diamond get from the hotel into a goose? And how did the goose get into a shop? And please tell the truth.'
When the police arrested Horner, I left the hotel with the diamond in my pocket. I didn't want to stay at the Cosmopolitan, not with the police everywhere, looking at everything, so I went to my sister's house in South London. She lives in Brixton Road with her husband, Mr Oakshott. I saw lots of police officers on my way there and when I got to Brixton Road I was very afraid.
'What's the matter?' my sister asked.
I told her about the diamond thief and about the police arresting Horner. Then I went into the back garden to smoke and think. What could I do with the diamond now? In the garden, I remembered my friend Maudsley. He began well, but he went bad, and in the end he went to prison for his crimes 'Perhaps he knows about selling diamonds,' I thought. So I decided to visit him at his home in Kilburn in North London.
'But how can I walk across London with the diamond?' I thought 'I can't have it in my pocket Not with all those police officers in the streets.' Then I looked down at the geese in the garden and I thought of something.
I knew one of those geese was for me, for my Christmas dinner. So I decided to take my goose there and then, and not to wait for it.
I quickly caught a big white goose with a black tail. Then I took the diamond from my pocket, and put it into the bird's mouth. I felt the jewel go down its neck. With the diamond now inside the goose I felt happy. I could walk to Kilburn and back easily.
Then my sister came into the garden.
'What are you doing with that goose?' she said.
I put my bird down and it ran off with the other geese. 'That's the goose I want for Christmas,' I said.
'Very well. Catch it, kill it, and take it with you,' she said.
Well, Mr Holmes I caught that bird, killed it and took it with me to Kilburn. There I told my friend Maudsley all about the diamond and he laughed and laughed. We got a knife and opened the goose but we couldn't find the diamond. I knew then something was wrong.
I left the goose with Maudsley, ran to my sister's house, and went into the back garden. There were no geese there.
'Where are they all, Maggie?' I said.
'In Mr Breckinridge's shop, in Covent Garden.'
'Were there two birds with black tails?' I asked.
'Yes, there were, James: she said. 'And to my eyes one was no different from the other.'
I understood it all then. The diamond was inside the other goose with the black tail. And that goose was now in Mr Breckinridge's shop. I ran to Covent Garden at once and went to Breckinridge's. But the geese weren't in his shop, and when I asked about them he told me: 'I sold them all at once.'
'But you must tell me. Where are they now?' I asked again and again. But he never told me. You and Dr Watson heard him earlier tonight, Mr Holmes. He never answered my questions.
'Now my sister thinks I'm a terrible brother. I'm a thief, I'm going to lose my good name, and I never got any money from my crime at all. Oh, what's going to happen to me?'
He put his head in his hands and began to cry.
Holmes didn't speak for a long time. Then, in the end, he stood up and opened the door.
'Get out!' he said.
'Oh, thank you! Thank you, sir!' said Ryder.
'Be quiet and get out!' said Holmes again, and, with that, Ryder ran out of the door, downstairs, out into the street, and away.
‘After all, Watson,' said Holmes. 'It's not my job to do the police's work for them and young Horner's going to be all right. Ryder isn't going to go to court now. Without him, the police have no witness to say Horner was the thief.
'Perhaps I'm doing something wrong, but I don't believe it, I think I'm helping Ryder to be a better man. Send him to prison now and you make him into a thief for life. But now he's afraid, he's not going to go wrong again. We found the solution to the crime and that makes me happy. And it's Christmas, after all, and Christmas is a time to be nice to other people, I believe.
'And now, Watson, let's ask Mrs Hudson to bring in our dinner.'