THE ADVENTURE OF NOBLE BACHELOR
Writer: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Published Year: 1892
Size: 108 KB
"The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor", one of the 56 short Sherlock Holmes stories written by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is the tenth of the twelve stories collected in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The story was first published in Strand Magazine in April 1892 .
The story served as the very loose basis for the made-for-television film The Eligible Bachelor starring Jeremy Brett as Holmes, Edward Hardwicke as Watson and Simon Williams as Lord Robert St Simon, the screenplay of which turned St Simon into a villainous "Bluebeard" character who had married and disposed of a series of wealthy women before marrying Hatty Doran.
The story entails the bride of the fictional Lord Robert St. Simon disappearing on the day of their marriage. She attends (and participates in) the wedding, but disappears from the reception.
The events of the wedding day are most perplexing to Lord Robert as it seemed to him that his bride, Miss Hatty Doran of San Francisco, was full of enthusiasm about their impending marriage. St. Simon tells Holmes that he noticed a change in the young lady's mood just after the wedding ceremony. She was uncharacteristically sharp with him. The only obvious happening at the church where the wedding took place that was out of the ordinary was Hatty's little accident: She dropped her wedding bouquet and a gentleman in the front pew picked it up and handed it back to her.
A short time later, at the wedding breakfast, before the newlyweds arrived, a former companion of St. Simon, Flora Millar, caused a disturbance at the house, and was ejected. After Lord Robert's and Hatty's arrival, Hatty was seen talking to her maid, and a short time later, it was realized that she had left.
There are many questions that Holmes must sift through. Who was that woman at the wedding breakfast? Who was that man in the front pew? Who was that man seen going into Hyde Park with Hatty? Why were Hatty's wedding dress and ring found washed up on the shore of the Serpentine? What had become of her?
For Holmes, however, it proves rather an elementary case, for he has dealt with other, similar cases, and this one is not so complex to unravel, much as it confuses Dr. Watson, and Inspector Lestrade. Holmes finds Hatty and the strange man from the front pew, and the dénouement takes the form of Holmes having Hatty explain herself to Lord Robert. Hatty and the man, Francis H. Moulton, were husband and wife. Her husband saw very little of her while he was busy trying to amass a fortune by prospecting. He was reported killed in an Apache raid on a mining camp where he was working. Hatty had given him up for dead, met Lord Robert, and decided to marry him, even though her heart still belonged to Frank. Frank had not been killed by the Apache raid, it turns out, but taken prisoner, and he escaped and tracked Hatty to London, where she was to be married. He was the strange man in the pew, and she recognized him instantly. Rather than have her make a scene at the church, he gestured her to be silent, and wrote a note which he slipped to her as he recovered her bouquet. She had wanted to abscond without ever telling anybody, but Holmes had tracked them down and convinced them that it would be better to have the full truth. Lord Robert is unmoved by Hatty's apologies and feels that he has been very ill used.
Conan Doyle also broadly implies that Flora Millar was Lord Robert's mistress, whom he broke up with shortly before the wedding (and well after he met Hatty), and that Lord Robert is only marrying Hatty Doran for her money and has no real love for her, nor her for him. It was common in Victorian and Edwardian times for impecunious younger sons of the nobility to marry American heiresses; no reader of Conan Doyle's time would have needed to have it spelled out.
This is one of a number of stories in which Holmes bests Lestrade of Scotland Yard. Lestrade even goes as far as to imply that Holmes is mad as this case unfolds, but it is, as always, Holmes who solves the case. Lestrade had been convinced that Flora Millar, a jilted admirer of St. Simon, had had something to do with the disappearance, since he had recovered a note to Hatty signed with the initials "F.H.M.", but this was before anyone concerned with the case knew of Francis H. Moulton, and thus Ms. Millar is the classic example of a red herring.