illustration of Sherlock Holmes in profile surrounded by various items from his many mysteries

The Best of Sherlock Holmes

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Student Question

What clues aid Holmes in solving "The Missing Three-Quarter"?

Expert Answers

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Holmes questions a porter and uses a dog to help him find the missing rugby player.

Homes gets a strange note from a panicked Mr. Overton who seems to have lost a “three-quarter,” a rugby player.  The police directed him to Holmes because they were not sure what to do with the case.  It turns out Holmes does not know much about rugby, but that won’t stop him from solving the case.

The first thing that Holmes did, of course, was question the client.  He is told that the missing rugby player has a relative named Lord Mount-James that he might go to for money.

Holmes goes to Cambridge, where he questions the porter at the hotel.

Sherlock Holmes was a past-master in the art of putting a humble witness at his ease, and very soon, in the privacy of Godfrey Staunton’s abandoned room, he had extracted all that the porter had to tell. 

From the porter, he gets a description of the man who gave the note to Mr. Overton and the word “time,” and also learns that the porter had delivered a note to the missing player.  Holmes is able to trace the tail end of the telegram and find out what it said.  It says “stand by us,” so Holmes knows that others are involved. 

He realizes that Lord Mount-James is not, and hires a dog and a bicycle to find out that the missing rugby player has been staying with his dying wife, whom he married in secret—so no one knew about her.

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