This adventure of Sherlock Holmes is well remembered by Dr. Watson for its unusual circumstances and conclusion. One stormy night of September John Openshaw came to ask Sherlock Holmes help for something has been troubling his family. Elias, his uncle lived in America and served as a soldier during the American war has moved back to England for aversions of the blacks. A hostile and difficult person to be with, who isolated himself to people even to his brother Joseph, John’s father, but he loves John, he beg his brother to let John live with him. And his uncle entrusted him of his business and house except for a room in the attic. Then one day Elias received a letter sent from Pondicherry, India, it has five dried orange pips (seeds), with three letter Ks’ written in red ink. When he asked his uncle what it means he said “death”. Fears gripped his uncle, summoned to call his lawyer. When John was called to the room in the attic he noticed papers were burned in the fireplace and an empty brass box with three Ks printed on it. The will of his uncle was made that day leaving his possession to his brother. Since then Elias spent his days drinking or locking himself in his room, until they found him dead in a pool. His death was declared suicide by the authorities for no traces of foul play was found and considering the disposition of Elias during his last days.
Joseph took over his brother’s property. After few months he received a letter same as the letter got by Elias but this time it has a note saying ‘put the papers on the sundial’, in reference to the sundial in their garden but the papers were burned. John asked his father to report it to the authorities but Joseph dismissed it as nothing but foolishness. A few days later his father died, found fallen in a pit, it was declared accident by the authorities.
John inherited the property of his father and after a long period of living in peace he thought the cursed has ceased until a letter came again same as the letter got by his father. For fear of his life, because he knew it has a connection on the death of his father and uncle, he went to the police but they just gave him one policeman to stay in his home for they do not take the matter seriously. Desperate for help he went to Holmes, upon Major Prendergast advised. And after Holmes and Watson heard his story, Holmes asked him to go home and put the paper he found that was not burned by his uncle in the brass box and leave it in the sundial and write a note saying that all other papers were burned. Holmes believed it would remove the danger in John’s life, which is their first concern before they go after the culprits.
Holmes told Watson when they were alone the key points of the case the people doing these things were in a sailing ship sent the letters by a mail boat from seaports Pondicherry, Dundee and London before executing their plan. They are the Klu Klux Klan, a secret society in America who persecuted blacks and anyone who opposed them. When the group collapsed in America Elias came backed in London with their papers, which he burned, that could implicate remnants of the group.
In the next morning Holmes was preparing to leave and start his inquiries in London when Watson read in the newspaper that John died last night, he has fallen in the river and drowned.
Holmes and Watson knew it was not an accident and enraged by the crime committed and remorseful of John’s death Holmes vowed to catch the perpetrators, he continued his investigation.
Backed in Baker Street that evening Holmes was famished but satisfied with the work he has done that day. He took an envelope, put five orange pips and wrote S.H for J.O. sealed and addressed it to Captain James Calhoun, the leader of the group who executed the Openshaws. He told Watson that he spent his day at a maritime registry and learned that Lone Star ship, where the group were aboard was at the place where the first and second letter was sent, it has arrived in London a week ago and he learned that the captain with two other men left the ship earlier that night before John met his death but the ship has left that morning and he expects his letter will reach them in Savannah and he will notify the local authorities that these persons are wanted in London. But his plan did not happen, the ship did not reach its destination there was a storm during those days and only a shattered post was found with letter L.S.curved on it. That was the last news Holmes and Dr. Watson heard about the ship.