Why did Helen go to visit Sherlock Holmes for advice in "The Adventure of the Speckled Band"?  

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schulzie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Helen Stoner came to Sherlock Holmes out of pure fear.  Her physical appearance even conveyed fear.  She had

“….restless frightened eyes, like those of some hunted animal.” (pg 2)

She tells Sherlock and Dr. Watson that she lives with her stepfather, who is the sole survivor of a family named Roylott.  At one time they owned

“……into Berkshire in the north, and Hampshire in the west.” (3)

However, due to wasteful living and gambling, nothing was left.  They were now broke and limited to a few acres and an old house that has a “crushing” mortgage.  Her stepfather, aware that his inheritance was very small, borrowed some money as a young man, got a medical degree, and practiced in Calcutta, India. He married Helen’s mother in India.  However, in a fit of anger, he killed his Indian butler and spent a long time in prison.  Afterwards he returned to England.

Helen and her sister, Julie, were twins and from a previous marriage.  Their mother had money and gave all of it to Dr. Roylott when they were married.  A certain sum was to be given to the girls when they married. 

Shortly after returning to England, Her mother died in a railroad accident. At that time, Dr. Roylott took the girls and moved to that old family home.  The money from their mother seemed to cover all expenses.  But her stepfather changed a lot after that.  He shut himself up in the house and only came out to have horrible fights with anyone who had the misfortune of crossing his path.  He became the

“….terror of the village, and the folks would fly at his approach, for he is a man of immense strength, and absolutely uncontrollable in his anger.” (pg 4)

Julie, Helen’s twin, died two years before her visit to Holmes.   She is the reason Helen has come to Sherlock Holmes.  At the time of her death, Julie was engaged.  Helen goes on to describe the home and how all the bedrooms were situated.  The night of her death Julie came to Helen’s room and asked if she ever heard whistling during the night.  Helen had not, but Julie distinctly heard whistling around three in the morning.  Julie went back to her room and locked the door because the doctor kept a cheetah and a baboon.  They needed the added feeling of security. 

During the night there was a wild scream.  Helen knew it was her sister.  Her sister collapsed to the floor and convulsed as if in severe pain. 

“….she slowly sank and died without having recovered her consciousness.” (pg 6)

Now Helen is engaged to be married. She has had to move into her sister’s bedroom due to repairs being made on the old house.  She has started hearing whistles.  She could not sleep, and as soon as she could, she came to Sherlock Holmes.  She is scared that the same thing that happened to her sister will happen to her.

My copy of the story is off the internet.  The page numbers may not coincide with yours but they should be close.

Read the study guide:
The Adventure of the Speckled Band

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