Have you ever watched a seemingly innocent object turn into something terrifying? We'll learn about the plot of ''The Adventure of the Speckled Band'' and analyze this Arthur Conan Doyle adventure.
''The Adventure of the Speckled Band''
In ''The Adventure of the Speckled Band,'' a terrified lady named Helen Stoner visits Holmes and Watson. She explains that she lives with her stepfather, Dr. Grimesby Roylott, who belongs to an old English family. Roylott became a doctor and opened a practice in Calcutta, India. There, he married a young widow, who brought considerable wealth to the marriage. The couple had twin girls, Helen and Julia, who would receive most of the money when they married. Roylott had a violent temper. Once, angry about some theft from the house, he blamed the butler and beat him to death. After a long prison sentence, Roylott brought his family to London. Soon after, his wife was killed in a railway accident.
Roylott brought his daughters to his family estate at Stoke Moran. He forced them into a reclusive life and attacked the locals. He liked Indian animals, and bought a baboon and a cheetah to live on his property.
Despite all this, Julia eventually became engaged. As the wedding date approached, she began hearing a strange low whistle at 3:00 a.m. One night, Helen heard Julia screaming in her bedroom, then a low whistle and a metallic clang. Julia ran out and died in Helen's arms, shrieking: 'It was the speckled band!' The sisters locked their doors at night, and the windows were heavily shuttered inside, so it was impossible for anyone to have entered Julia's room.
Two years later, Helen became engaged. Roylott began construction on her room, forcing her to stay in Julia's bedroom. Helen began to hear the whistle her sister mentioned just before her death. Terrified, Helen decided to ask Holmes for help.
Holmes arranges to visit Helen at the estate with Watson the same day while Roylott is out. After she leaves, Roylott (who has followed her) bursts in and threatens them if they investigate. Holmes and Watson go anyway. During their investigation of the house, Holmes finds a dummy (non-functional) bell pull and ventilator in Helen's room. A Victorian bell pull, or a vertical rope attached to a bell, was used to summon servants; a ventilator is a vent. The ventilator connects with Roylott's bedroom, and the bed is bolted to the floor so it can't be moved away from the vent. In Roylott's room, they find an iron safe, a dog lash (leash) with a loop at the end, and a saucer of milk. On a hunch, Holmes insists that Helen sleep in her previous bedroom while he and Watson secretly camp out in Julia's.
Holmes and Watson return that night and quietly hide in Julia's room. After 3:00 a.m., they see a light through the ventilator and hear a hissing sound. Holmes strikes a match and attacks the bell pull with his cane. Moments later, there's a yell from Roylott's room, and the two find him dead in a chair with a brown-speckled yellow snake wrapped around his head. Holmes identifies it as a swamp adder, the deadliest poisonous snake in India.
Holmes reveals that, when each of Roylott's daughters became engaged, Roylott pushed the snake through the ventilator using the dog lash so it would climb down the fake bell pull and bite the daughter in bed. He summoned it back with a low whistle and put it back in the safe with a clang. He wanted to kill his daughters before they married so he could claim their funds, since he would have almost no income without them. He knew the snake's poison would be untraceable, so he wouldn't be suspected of murder. When Holmes attacked the snake on the bell pull, it went back through the ventilator and bit Roylott instead.
We now know Roylott is a ruthless, violent man who values possessions and money more than human life, even in the case of his own family members. He abuses his daughters, killing one of them, which makes us wonder how he treated his wife. It's also curious that Helen tries to hide the bruises he inflicts from Holmes. Although he has no conscience, Roylott does learn from his mistakes, since he found a way to disguise a murder and attempted murder the second time around. In the end, he's much like the swamp adder - deadly when provoked.
In ''The Adventure of the Speckled Band,'' Helen Stoner asks Holmes for help when she feels threatened living with her stepfather, Dr. Grimesby Roylott. Roylott had a medical practice in India, where he met his wife, and the couple had twin daughters, Helen and Julia. His wife had considerable wealth that she set aside for their daughters when they married. Roylott had a violent temper and beat to death a butler whom he suspected of theft. He served a long prison sentence in India, then brought his family to England, where his wife died soon afterward.
When Julia became engaged, she began hearing a strange whistle late at night. One night, she died in Helen's arms, raving about a 'speckled band.' When Helen became engaged, Roylott forced her to sleep in Julia's room, and she heard the whistle (and a metallic clang) as well. Holmes and Watson investigate Julia's room and find a dummy bell pull and a ventilator that connects with Roylott's room. After secretly camping out in Julia's room that night, the two discover that Roylott had planned to use a deadly Indian swamp adder, a brown-speckled yellow snake whose poison is untraceable, to kill his daughters before they married so he could collect their marriage funds. Holmes drives it back into the vent so it kills Roylott instead.
Finally, we learned that Roylott is an abusive and ruthless man who values material goods more than human life. After being imprisoned for his first murder, he devises a way to avoid being prosecuted for the second and (attempted) third one. Two questions raised by Roylott's abuse are how he treated his wife and why Helen tries to hide the bruises he inflicts from Holmes.