|The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone|
"The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone" 1921 is one of 12 Sherlock Holmes short stories (56 total) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes first published Strand Magazine October 1921 - April 1927.
Watson arrives at 221B Baker Street to find Holmes in bed at seven in the evening while Billy the page explains that Holmes has been hot on the trail of a missing jewel, a Crown diamond no less, worth about £100,000. He has been disguised as a jobless workman, and even as an old woman while pursuing the thief across London. He has also not been eating, believing that hunger sharpens his wits. The Prime Minister and the Home Secretary have been to see Holmes, along with Lord Cantlemere, who is apparently no great fan of Sherlock Holmes and no believer in his deductive powers. He is opposed to engaging Holmes to recover the precious gem.
Also in the room is a wax dummy, a remarkable effigy of Sherlock Holmes, seated in a chair near the window. Holmes soon emerges from his bedroom and explains that the dummy is a decoy designed to fool a would-be gunman, much as was done in "The Adventure of the Empty House", to which Watson alludes. Holmes, it would seem, is fully expecting an attempt on his life that very evening, and he even has Watson write down the murderer's name and address, just in case the attempt is successful: the murderer — and also the jewel thief — is Count Negretto Sylvius of 136 Moorside Gardens, NW (not a real address).
Moments later, Billy comes in with none other than Count Negretto Sylvius's card. He has arrived. Holmes has hardly expected this. The count has also brought his dimwitted henchman with him, Sam Merton, a boxer, who can be seen out the window. Holmes gives Watson a written message, tells him to give it to Youghal of the CID, and ushers him out the back way over his objections at Holmes's exposing himself to such danger. Holmes tells Watson to come back with the police. Meanwhile he will try to find out from the count the one piece of information that has thus far eluded him: the stone's whereabouts.
Holmes is not in the room when Sylvius enters. The count sees the effigy and, mistaking it for Holmes, is about to stave its head in with his cane just as Holmes, having entered the room, speaks. The count's intentions are clear enough, and they are just as Holmes suspected.
Sylvius demands to know why Holmes's agents have been following him. Holmes explains first that it was he himself, in disguise, who had been his shadow; and likens his crimefighting activities to the Count's lion-hunting in Algeria — the danger is exhilarating, and it rids the country of a pest.
Holmes then proceeds to make his own purpose plain and tells the count that he wants to know where the Mazarin Stone is. Holmes even boasts that the count will tell him. At first, the count denies that he even knows, but Holmes tricks him into revealing that he does. He also outlines the evidence which he has amassed against the count for this theft, and other crimes.
Both men are armed. The count is sitting on his revolver, and Holmes fingers one in his dressing-gown pocket.
Holmes skillfully gets Sylvius to agree to call Sam Merton up to the room. Until now Merton has been keeping watch outside. Holmes tells the two thugs to consider their positions: they can go to prison for 20 years if Holmes does not find the Mazarin Stone, or else they can reveal its hiding place and go free. Meanwhile, Holmes withdraws once more to his bedroom with his violin and soon the strains of the Barcarolle from the Tales of Hoffmann emanate from Holmes's room.
Left to themselves, the thieves discuss Holmes's offer, and are disturbed only by a soft noise apparently coming from somewhere out in the street. During the course of their discussion as to what their next move ought to be, Sylvius reveals to his confederate that he is carrying the Mazarin Stone in a secret pocket. He takes it out to show him. Bringing it over near the window, where the dummy is, to get a better look at it, Sylvius and Merton are astonished when the waxen figure turns round, snatches the diamond, and points a revolver at them. It is Holmes. He has reached the alcove in the bow window through a second door which leads behind the curtain. Merton cannot understand why he can still hear the violin playing. Holmes explains that it is a Gramophone. It is also clear now that the soft noise was made when Holmes removed the dummy.
Watson arrives at 221B with the police in tow. Sylvius and Merton are arrested. Soon after, the sceptical Cantlemere shows up at Holmes's rooms, and Holmes plays a practical joke on him by slipping the Mazarin Stone into his overcoat pocket, humorously suggesting that Cantlemere is the fence. Cantlemere does not appreciate Holmes's sense of humour, but he is forced to admit that he has been wrong about the detective's abilities.