The Adventure of the Dancing Men Questions and Answers
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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In "The Adventure of the Dancing Man" by Conan Doyle, when Elsie gave Abe the slip in Chicago, how did Abe know she went to London?

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The fact that Elsie was unable to give Abe the slip in spite of going all the way to London is part of what makes "The Adventure of the Dancing Men" seem so uncanny. The reader does not know how Abe Slaney and his gang could have traced her to England, but nevertheless the reader believes that it was done. The name Chicago in those days was synonymous with lawlessness and criminal power. When Slaney is captured, he does not offer to explain exactly how he had managed to trace Elsie to London. He simply tells his captors:

It was only after her marriage to this Englishman that I was able to find out where she was. I wrote to her, but got no answer. 

The letter he wrote to her would have been the one that, according to her husband, caused her such alarm when it was delivered to his estate. In their first interview, Mr. Hilton Cubitt tells Holmes:

One day my wife received a letter from America. I saw the American stamp. She turned deadly white, read the letter, and threw it into the fire. 

She was horrified when she realized that Slaney knew where to find her, regardless of her having fled all the way to England and her new last name.

"The Adventure of the Dancing Men" was first published in 1903. Foreign travel from America was much lighter in those days than it is today. Elsie would have had to buy her boat ticket in Chicago and then travel by train to New York to disembark. There would not have been many places in Chicago to purchase a boat ticket in 1903, and Abe Slaney with his gang could easily have checked all of them in...

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