Dr. James Watson went to an opium den, Bar of Gold, in Upper Swandam Lane to take Isa Whitney home as a favor to his wife, Kate, for he was gone for two days but he was surprised to see Sherlock Holmes in that troubled place, disguised as an old opium addict. Holmes is in a middle of an investigation, watching Lascar, the bar manager and he asked Dr. Watson to join him. So Watson sent Isa home on his cab and gone to the residence of the St. Clair’s The Cedars in Kent with Holmes, where Neville wife awaits them.
On their way Holmes has told Watson about Neville St. Clair, a young married man with two kids, and well love by neighbors. Last Monday morning Neville left home for town earlier than he used to, a telegram arrived after he left informing them of a package to pick in the post office so his wife went to Swandan Lake to get the package. She was waiting for a cab to go home when she heard a cry and saw her husband in the second floor window, which is the opium den, waving at her and seemed to be in trouble. So she ran to his aid but she was halted and pushed in the street by Lascar and his assistant as she tried to climb the stairs, fortunately she found police that help her into the room where she had last seen her husband but they did not find him instead they found the crippled and ugly mendicant, Hugh Boone, who is renting that room. Lascar and the beggar swore no one has been there but them. But Mrs. St. Clair found in room the toy his husband promised to bring home to his son and the whole room was searched and they found the clothes of Neville and blood in the windowsill. And later the coat of Mr. St. Clair was found in the river at the back of the den with many coins in its pocket. Hugh Boone was arrested.
Holmes and Watson were eagerly welcome by Mrs. St. Clair though they have no news of her husband, but she has a proof that her husband could be alive. She received a letter from her husband consoling her that everything would be fine and he enclosed his signet ring in it. She confirmed the writing is her husband’s handwriting though it was written hastily but not the writing on the envelope. Holmes stayed awake that night pondering the facts he got.
Early next morning Holmes and Watson left The Cedars for Bow Street precinct carrying a bag Holmes claimed to be key in this case. Inspector Bradstreet brought them to the cell of Hugh Boone, which was sleeping when they entered his cell. Holmes took from his bag a sponge bath and washed the face of Hugh Boone and to the surprised of the inspector and Watson it revealed the missing man Neville St. Clair.
Dejected Neville submitted to what punishment it might bring him for, as long it would save his children from the embarrassments he tells them his story. He used to be a reporter asked by his editor to write an article about begging in the city; he disguised as a pitiable beggar and start begging in the city. After he finished his article and went backed to his job, a time came that he needed a big amount of money; desperate he went back to begging, after ten days he earned the needed amount. He abandoned his old job for a more lucrative job of vagrancy. Nobody knows it, even his wife, but Lascar that he pays a good amount of money.
That Monday when he saw his wife from his room he was changing his clothes, he blurted a cry of panicked. He asked Lascar to prevent anyone to enter his room. He put on his disguise, threw his coat out of the window into the river and in the process he reopened his old wound. But he was not able to throw his other clothes because the authorities have entered the room. He was glad no one recognized him and willing to be charged of the crime than to be exposed for the sake of his family’s reputation. With the help of Lascar he sent the letter and ring to his wife to tell her he is safe.
The inspector will keep the matter secret and set him free for there was no crime committed but Neville must put a stop to the existence Hugh Boone.