illustration of Sherlock Holmes in profile looking across a cityscape with a magnifying glass in the distance and a speckled band visible through the glass

The Adventure of the Speckled Band

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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What was suspicious about Julia's room in "The Adventure of the Speckled Band"?

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There were several strange modifications to the rooms in which both of the Roylott ladies resided. The fact that there was any work going on at all at the house was immediately suspicious:

Some scaffolding had been erected against the end wall, and the stone-work had been broken into, but there were no signs of any workmen at the moment of our visit.


As the Roylott estate was no longer wealthy, and the rest of the building was in disrepair, it was odd that any work should be done at all. And, if there were necessary repairs, there were no workmen to complete them.

Holmes then identified the unusual adaptations to the house. His first concern was the ventilation system:

There are one or two very singular points about this room. For example, what a fool a builder must be to open a ventilator into another room, when, with the same trouble, he might have communicated with the outside air!

Secondly, Holmes observed that the recently installed bell-pull served no discernable purpose and did not work. His third concern was the positioning and modifications to Miss Roylott’s bed-

"It was clamped to the floor. Did you ever see a bed fastened like that before?"

Holmes surmises that the adaptations have been made to facilitate Grimesby Roylott's evil plan and, of course, he is right.

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Several things evoked Holmes' suspicion that there was indeed foul play going on:

-the unnecessary "renovation" of the wing where Julia's room was located.

-the strange whistling sound Julia had heard at night coming through the bedroom's walls

-the bell pull coming down from the ventilator grid, which looked recently installed but didn't work

It takes Holmes' deductive reasoning and logic to put two and two together to figure out what is going on before a second disaster takes place. This time, however,  there are enough clues along the way for the reader to "play sleuth" along with Holmes, heightening the suspense and interest of the story.

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