On June 15th…

Pinner knew when he read the news,
Suicide he would have to choose.
He went to his room
To hasten his doom,
And to drum on the door with his shoes.
– Don Dillistone, 2002

June 15, 1889: Holmes and Watson accompanied Hall Pycroft to Birmingham to see Arthur Harry Pinner in New Street. [STOC]

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (1893)

Following his lead we ascended five stories, until we found ourselves outside a half-opened door, at which our client tapped. A voice within bade us “Come in”, and we entered a bare, unfurnished room, such as Hall Pycroft had described. At the single table sat the man whom we had seen in the street, with his evening paper spread out in front of him, and as he looked up at us it seemed to me that I had never looked upon a face which bore such marks of grief, and of something beyond grief – of a horror such as comes to few men in a lifetime. His brow glistened with perspiration, his cheeks were of the dull dead white of a fish’s belly, and his eyes were wild and staring. He looked at his clerk as though he failed to recognize him, and I could see by the astonishment depicted upon our conductor’s face, that this was by no means the usual appearance of his employer.
“You look very ill, Mr. Pinner,” he exclaimed.
“Yes, I am not very well,” answered the other, making obvious efforts to pull himself together, and licking his dry lips before he spoke. “Who are these gentlemen whom you have brought with you?”
“One is Mr. Harris, of Bermondsey, and the other is Mr. Price of this town,” said our clerk, glibly. “They are friends of mine, and gentlemen of experience, but they have been out of a place for some little time, and they hoped that perhaps you might find an opening for them in the company’s employment.”
“Very possibly! Very possibly!” cried Mr. Pinner, with a ghastly smile. “Yes, I have no doubt that we shall be able to do something for you. What is your particular line, Mr. Harris?”
“I am an accountant,” said Holmes.
“Ah, yes, we shall want something of the sort. And you, Mr. Price?”
“A clerk,” said I.
“I have every hope that the company may accommodate you. I will let you know about it as soon as we come to any conclusion. And now I beg that you will go. For God’s sake, leave me to myself!”

 

June 15, 1889: Arthur Pinner attempted suicide. [STOC)]

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (1893)

Again and much louder came the rat-tat-tat. We all gazed expectantly at the closed door. Glancing at Holmes I saw his face turn rigid, and he leaned forward in intense excitement. Then suddenly came a low gurgling, gargling sound and a brisk drumming upon woodwork. Holmes sprang frantically across the room and pushed at the door. It was fastened on the inner side. Following his example, we threw ourselves upon it with all our weight. One hinge snapped, then the other, and down came the door with a crash. Rushing over it we found ourselves in the inner room. It was empty.
But it was only for a moment that we were at fault. At one corner, the corner nearest the room which we had left, there was a second door. Holmes sprang to it and pulled it open. A coat and waistcoat were lying on the floor, and from a hook behind the door, with his own braces round his neck, was hanging the managing director of the Franco-Midland Hardware Company. His knees were drawn up, his head hung at a dreadful angle to his body, and the clatter of his heels against the door made the noise which had broken in upon our conversation. In an instant I had caught him round the waist and held him up, while Holmes and Pycroft untied the elastic bands which had disappeared between the livid creases of skin. Then we carried him into the other room, where he lay with a slate-coloured face, puffing his purple lips in and out with every breath – a dreadful wreck of all that he had been but five minutes before.

(Chronology Source: A Day by Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes According to Zeisler and Christ, compiled by William S Dorn)


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