When Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are about ready to take a train from Waterloo Station down to Leatherhead, Holmes tells Watson:
I should be very much obliged if you would slip your revolver into your pocket. An Eley's No. 2 is an excellent argument with gentlemen who can twist steel pokers into knots.
They had previously had a confrontation with the formidable Dr. Roylott in their rooms at Baker Street. He burst in on them and demanded to know what his stepdaughter Helen had been telling Holmes. Then when the detective coldly ignored his questions, he picked up the steel poker near the fireplace and twisted it into a ninety-degree angle to demonstrate his tremendous strength. He said:
'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!"
Helen Stoner has told Holmes and Watson that she expectED her stepfather to stay in London all that day. But his violent temper creates a sense of danger that hangs over the rest of the story until he is found dead in his room, having been bitten by the poisonous snake he had used to kill Helen's sister two years earlier and was using to try to kill Helen on the night he met his death.
Holmes and Watson go to Stoke Moran on the afternoon of the same day that Helen's and Dr. Roylott's visited Baker Street. The reader senses the possibility that Roylott will return unexpectedly and perhaps go so far as to try to kill both Holmes and Watson with a hunting rifle if he catches them searching his premises. But Roylott does not return until that night.
At dusk we saw Dr. Grimesby Roylott drive past, his huge form looming up beside the little figure of the lad who drove him. The boy had some slight difficulty in undoing the heavy iron gates, and we heard the hoarse roar of the doctor's voice and saw the fury with which he shook his clinched fists at him.
The case is all wrapped up in less than twenty-four hours. Helen Stoner came to Holmes at about seven-thirty in the morning. At around three o'clock the followingt morning Roylott whistles to summon his snake back from Helen's bedroom, where Holmes and Watson have been waiting in the dark. Watson has placed his Eley's No. 2 revolver on the table beside his chair.
How long they seemed, those quarters! Twelve struck, and one and two and three, and still we sat waiting silently for whatever might befall.
Holmes strikes a light and begins lashing at the "speckled band" as it is slithering back up the bell-pull. Moments later they hear a horrible cry as the angered snake has bitten its keeper.