The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet is a clever little yarn and one of 12 included in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. It is not particularly good, or particularly bad, but it has a couple of glowing errors that can only be laid at Doyle’s feet; Holmes had nothing to do with it.
Mr. Alexander Holder, one of the principles at Holder & Stevenson (the second largest private banking concern in the City of London), has agreed to accept the Beryl Coronet (which he describes as “one of the most precious public possessions of the empire”) as collateral on a four day, ₤50,000 loan. Holder doesn’t feel comfortable leaving the coronet at the bank so he takes it home and locks it in a bureau in his dressing-room.
The owner/curator of the coronet (who is not disclosed) admonishes Holder:
“I rely upon you not only to be discreet and to refrain from all gossip upon the matter but, above all, to preserve this coronet with every possible precaution because I need not say that a great public scandal would be caused if any harm were to befall it. Any injury to it would be almost as serious as its complete loss… “
Through some family shenanigans, the coronet is stolen. During the theft, Holder’s son attempts to regain the coronet from the thief. During the struggle and unbeknownst to the son, a corner of the coronet, with three stones (beryls) attached is broken off and retained by the the the thieve.
Holmes is called in, quickly sorts out the mystery, and eventually returns the coronet to Holder who presumably returns it to its rightful owner.
Here are my concerns:
If any injury would be “almost as serious as its complete loss, why, after Holmes recovers the broken corner (with the beryls attached), does Mr. Holder exclaim:
“You have it!” he gasped. I am saved! I am saved!”
Saved? The coronet is severely damaged and Holder was specifically cautioned that any injury was tantamount to a complete loss.
I also wonder that Mr. Holder, after having been admonished to “refrain from all gossip upon the matter” proceeded to tell his son (who had known gambling issues) and niece the whole story and exactly where he is going to leave the coronet?
And why does not the younger Holder realize the coronet has been broken? Holmes says that a break would make a noise “like a pistol shot”. Certainly the “pistol shot” would have occurred concomitant with the break so why would not Holder have heard it and realized the coronet had been damaged?
This story is uncharacteristically full of holes the biggest of which is: why did Holder take the coronet home in the first place rather than leave it in the vault of the second largest private banking concern in the City of London?