A physical description of Helen Stoner is in paragraph 10 at the beginning of the story. It says,
".....her face all drawn and grey, with restless frightened eyes, like those of some hunted animal. Her features and figure were those of a woman of thirty, but her hair was shot with premature grey, and her expression was weary and haggard." (pg 2)
She is wearing black and a veil and appears to be in a state of considerable agitation. Her money is controlled by her stepfather. She tells Sherlock,
"At present it is out of my power to reward you for your services, but in a month or six weeks I shall be married, with the control of my own income..." (pg 3)
She is a twin. Her sister's name was Julia. Their mother married their stepfather when they were two years old. Her mother was the person with the money. She died in a railroad accident eight years before the start of this story. The stepfather was to watch their money until they married, and then they were to be given an annual sum of money.
Her sister, Julia, died two years ago in a strange way. While she lay dying, she said to Helen,
"Oh my God! Helen! It was the band! The speckled band!" (pg 7) Hence the title of the story.
This has Helen very fearful and full of terror.
She is an observant and responsible person. She remembers hearing a low whistle each night and a metallic sound before her sister died, and she takes care of the financial bills when her stepfather loses his temper.
She is being abused by her stepfather. Sherlock accuses her of protecting her stepfather by not telling him (Sherlock) everything. She has the bruises made by four fingers and a thumb on her wrist. She tells Sherlock that her stepfather is a
"....hard man and perhaps he hardly knows his own strength." (pg 9)
Sherlock finds her a courageous young lady. She has come to Sherlock knowing that when her stepfather finds out, she will come to harm. This is confirmed with a huge man suddenly dashes in the door.
"So tall was he that his hat actually brushed the cross bar of the doorway, and his breadth seemed to span it across from side to side....." (pg 11)
Some Character Traits for Helen Stoner and Sherlock Holmes
And some Character Traits for Dr. Grimesby and Helens Twin sister Julia Stoner