By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor is an unusually snarky title for one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes Stories – but more on that later. The tenth of twelve stories collected in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the story is one of those that the great detective solves from his first meeting with his client. Of course, we’re kept in the dark until the resolution to satisfy Holme’s taste for theatre.
The story belongs to a Lord St Simon whose new bride mysteriously disappears just after their wedding. Unusual, notes Holmes, as brides tend to leave either just before the ceremony to avoid the union or some time much later. The Lord contacts Holmes at Lestrade’s suggestion when the police struggle to find the woman, though later do manage to drag her dress from the Thames.
It’s a reasonably sleight case for Holmes, though still giving him ample opportunity to bemuse Watson, Lestrade and his esteemed client. The entertainment comes from Conan Doyle’s constant playful rubbing of Lord St Simon and, you suspect, his general class of aristocracy.
This is found early in the first meeting with Holmes when the Lord mentions the detective is probably not used to dealing with clients of his stature. His ego takes something of a beating as Sherlock agrees, noting it’s some drop from his last client – a King. The rest of the story wastes no opportunity to paint St Simon as something of an entitled – though broke – Lord, relying on his wedding to regain his wealth from his new wife’s family.
It’s therefore easy to drop quotation marks around “noble” in the story’s title, or perhaps infer it as a reference to Holmes as the nobler of the two – given his service to not only his client but in doing right by all those involved in the case. Either way, it’s an entertaining story with a solution that might be guessed at by the particularly astute reader.