What is the conflict in "The Adventure of the Speckled Band"?

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The author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sets up the story in such a way that the conflict becomes one between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Grimesby Roylott. When Roylott is killed by his own snake at the end of the story, that resolves the conflict. Holmes even tells Watson:

"Some of...

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The author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sets up the story in such a way that the conflict becomes one between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Grimesby Roylott. When Roylott is killed by his own snake at the end of the story, that resolves the conflict. Holmes even tells Watson:

"Some of the blows of my cane came home and roused its snakish temper, so that it flew upon the first person it saw. In this way I am no doubt indirectly responsible for Dr. Grimesby Roylott's death, and I cannot say that it is likely to weigh very heavily upon my conscience.”

Helen Stoner comes to Sherlock Holmes early in the morning. She tells him a long tale about her family and about her sister Julia's mysterious death two years ago. She is fearing for her own life now because she has heard the same low whistle which Julia told her about shortly before she died an agonizing death. After Holmes promises to offer his advice and assistance, Helen leaves. Her violent, ill-tempered stepfather has been following her. He bursts into Holmes and Watson's sitting room unannounced and threatens Holmes with violence if he interferes in his affairs.

“I will go when I have said my say. Don't you dare to meddle with my affairs. I know that Miss Stoner has been here. I traced her! I am a dangerous man to fall foul of! See here.” He stepped swiftly forward, seized the poker, and bent it into a curve with his huge brown hands.

“See that you keep yourself out of my grip,” he snarled, and hurling the twisted poker into the fireplace he strode out of the room.

This is the only time Dr. Roylott appears in person and alive, but his presence haunts the rest of the story. When Holmes and Watson go down to Stoke Moran to examine the bedrooms, the reader always feels a danger that Roylott might return unexpectedly and become infuriated to find the detective inside his house after warning him not to meddle with his affairs. No doubt the country manor would contain several guns used for hunting, and Roylott seems quite capable of trying to commit murder.

After Conan Doyle introduces Dr. Roylott in person at 221B Baker Street, he has established that the conflict is between Holmes and Roylott. There is no other significant conflict in the story, and it is this battle of wits between the two cunning men that makes "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" so dramatic. The conflict is over Helen Stoner. Simply put, Dr. Roylott wants to kill her and Holmes wants to protect her. She is what is often called the MacGuffin in Hollywood parlance. She is the "bone of contention," what the conflict is about. There cannot be a serious and prolonged conflict in a story unless the conflict is about something specific. 

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