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Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson sit in Holmes's rooms debating the interesting question of whether the invented stories of fiction are wilder and more unusual than the crime stories of everyday life. Watson contends that fiction has the upper hand in the category of wild and unusual; Holmes disagrees. Watson points out a police report in the daily newspaper to prove his point. Regrettably for Watson, the case happens to be one which Holmes had solved and thus could attest that the details were far stranger than the inventions of fiction could ever achieve.
At this moment Holmes spies a new client standing on the curb opposite the house, who with a determined action dashes across to pull the bell at 221B Baker Street. Miss Mary Sutherland, the new client, tells a story about a missing fiance. She attended a ball against her stepfather's wishes and met a man named Hosmer Angel who began to call because her disapproving stepfather was in France. Their courtship continued until he asked her to marry him and made her vow to always be faithful no matter what unusual event transpired.
Miss Sutherland's meetings with Mr. Angel were always clandestine to a degree and always when the stepfather, Mr. Windibank, was away. On the wedding day. Miss Sutherland and her mother, together in one carriage, watched Hosmer Angel step into another carriage to all go to the church for the wedding ceremony. Upon arriving, Mr. Angel was no where to be seen.
Holmes makes lightening quick and sure deductions, asks for the letters from Mr. Angel, which had been typewritten and asks for a copy of her Missing Person bulletin, which she had typewritten. From the evidence, confirmed by inquires at Mr Windibank's place of employment and by Mr. Windibank's typewritten note agreeing to meet Holmes, Holmes identifies the culprit and threatens to thrash him because the evil joke, intended to gain unscrupulous persons access to Miss Sutherland's small fortune, was not "actionable" in terms of police arrest and court punishment. The troublemakers were none other than the greedy pair of Miss Sutherland's mother and stepfather, Mr. and Mrs. Windibank.
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