The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter
"The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter", one of the 56 Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The fantastic London-based "consulting detective", Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to take almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve...

 short stories written by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle DL was a Scottish physician and writer, most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, generally considered a milestone in the field of crime fiction, and for the adventures of Professor Challenger...

, is one of 12 stories in the cycle collected as The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories, originally published in 1894, by Arthur Conan Doyle.-Contents:The twelve stories of the Memoirs are:*"Silver Blaze"...

. The story was originally serialised in Strand Magazine
Strand Magazine
The Strand Magazine was a monthly magazine composed of fictional stories and factual articles founded by George Newnes. It was first published in the United Kingdom from January 1891 to March 1950 running to 711 issues, though the first issue was on sale well before Christmas 1890.Its immediate...

in 1893. This story introduces Holmes's elder brother Mycroft
Mycroft Holmes
Mycroft Holmes is a fictional character in the stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle. He is the elder brother of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes.- Profile :...

. Doyle ranked "The Greek Interpreter" seventeenth in a list of his nineteen favourite Sherlock Holmes storiesTrivia on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Favorite Sherlock Holmes Stories | Trivia Library .


Mr. Melas, a Greek
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 interpreter, tells of a rather unnerving experience to Mycroft Holmes
Mycroft Holmes
Mycroft Holmes is a fictional character in the stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle. He is the elder brother of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes.- Profile :...

. Mycroft, like his younger brother Sherlock Holmes, is remarkably endowed with powers of observation and deduction. Sherlock claims that his brother’s powers actually outstrip his own, but he is a lazy, apathetic character who rarely uses his powers to their full potential.

Melas was called upon one evening by a man named Harold Latimer to go to a house, supposedly in Kensington
Kensington is a district of west and central London, England within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. An affluent and densely-populated area, its commercial heart is Kensington High Street, and it contains the well-known museum district of South Kensington.To the north, Kensington is...

, to do some translation in a business matter. On the way there in Latimer’s coach, Melas noticed that the windows were papered over so that he could not see where he was. Latimer also produced a bludgeon
Bludgeon may refer to:* Bludgeon , a fictional character* Bludgeon , a club-like weapon* Crabtree's Bludgeon, a foil to Occam's Razor...

, laying it beside him as an implied threat. Melas protested, saying that what Latimer was doing was unlawful. The kidnapper
In criminal law, kidnapping is the taking away or transportation of a person against that person's will, usually to hold the person in false imprisonment, a confinement without legal authority...

 replied that he would make it up to Melas, but also threatened him with unspecified retribution should the evening’s business ever be made public.

For approximately two hours they rode, at last arriving at a house. It was dark, and Melas only got a general impression of a large lot as he was hustled out of the coach and into the house. The house itself was poorly lit, but Melas made out that it was quite big. In the room into which he was led by Latimer and another, nervous, giggling gentleman — whose name is later discovered to be Wilson Kemp — Melas noticed a deep-pile carpet, a high marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

 mantel, and a suit of Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese armour
Armour or armor is protective covering used to prevent damage from being inflicted to an object, individual or a vehicle through use of direct contact weapons or projectiles, usually during combat, or from damage caused by a potentially dangerous environment or action...


Another man was brought into the room. He was thin and emaciated and had sticking plaster all over his face, notably a big piece sealing his mouth. Melas knew then that things were not right. Melas was sly enough to observe that his kidnappers were utterly ignorant of Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

, and used this to find out some information. While Latimer and his giggling companion had Melas translate demands that this man sign some papers, Melas added his own short questions to the dialogue. The man not only answered Latimer that he would never sign these papers, but he also answered Melas that his name was Paul Kratides, that he had been in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 for three weeks, that he had no idea what house he was in, and that his captors at the house were starving
Starvation is a severe deficiency in caloric energy, nutrient and vitamin intake. It is the most extreme form of malnutrition. In humans, prolonged starvation can cause permanent organ damage and eventually, death...

 him. He wrote all his answers, unable as he was to speak through the sticking plaster.

Much could be inferred from Kratides’s answers to Latimer, too. Evidently, Latimer was trying to coerce Kratides into signing over property to him, and a woman was also involved. Latimer had warned Kratides that his obstinacy would do her no good.

Melas would have extracted the whole story from this stranger had the woman herself not burst in unexpectedly, but even that event furnished new information. She recognized Kratides as “Paul”, whereupon he managed to get the plaster off his mouth and he called her “Sophy”. They both behaved as though neither had expected to see the other.

Melas was ushered back into the coach for another interminable ride and was deposited far from his home on Wandsworth
Wandsworth is a district of south London, England, in the London Borough of Wandsworth. It is situated southwest of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.-Toponymy:...

 Common. He made it to Clapham Junction just in time for the last train to Victoria
Victoria station (London)
Victoria station, also known as London Victoria, is a central London railway terminus and London Underground complex. It is named after nearby Victoria Street and not Queen Victoria. It is the second busiest railway terminus in London after Waterloo, and includes an air terminal for passengers...

. He has now presented his story at the Diogenes Club to Mycroft, who asks his brother Sherlock to look into it.

An advertisement has already been placed begging the public for information. It yields a result. A Mr. Davenport knows the woman in question, and she is currently residing at the Myrtles, a house in Beckenham
Beckenham is a town in the London Borough of Bromley, England. It is located 8.4 miles south east of Charing Cross and 1.75 miles west of Bromley town...

. Sherlock Holmes and his brother Mycroft, who received the message from Davenport, decide that they must go to Beckenham to see about this. Watson comes, too, and they decide to pick up Inspector Gregson, and Melas as well in case some translating needs to be done. They find, however, that he has already been picked up, by a nervous, giggling man brandishing a bludgeon. Holmes knows that this means trouble. Obviously the thugs know that Melas has betrayed them.

After the necessary legal procedures for securing a warrant
Warrant (law)
Most often, the term warrant refers to a specific type of authorization; a writ issued by a competent officer, usually a judge or magistrate, which permits an otherwise illegal act that would violate individual rights and affords the person executing the writ protection from damages if the act is...

 have been completed, the group proceeds to Beckenham only to discover that the house, which indeed turns out to be as Melas has described, has been abandoned. Tracks advertise that a fully loaded coach has recently pulled out of the drive. Breaking in, they discover Melas and Kratides bound in a closed room where some charcoal
Charcoal is the dark grey residue consisting of carbon, and any remaining ash, obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. Charcoal is usually produced by slow pyrolysis, the heating of wood or other substances in the absence of oxygen...

 has been lit to gas
Carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide , also called carbonous oxide, is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is slightly lighter than air. It is highly toxic to humans and animals in higher quantities, although it is also produced in normal animal metabolism in low quantities, and is thought to have some normal...

 the two of them. Kratides is dead, but Melas recovers thanks to Watson's timely intervention.

Apparently, Kratides never signed any papers. It turns out that Sophy’s friends contacted Kratides, who was Sophy’s brother, in Greece to tell of what they thought was a bad situation for her with Latimer. He then came to England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and wound up in Latimer’s power. He tried to force Kratides to sign over his sister’s property, and he refused absolutely.

All that is ever again heard of the thugs Latimer and Kemp is a news story from Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 saying that they have both been stabbed to death. The official report says that it was a fight between the two of them. However, Holmes thought that perhaps Sophy has had her revenge on them and somehow having managed to bring their fate about.

Other media

The story was adapted for an episode of the 1954 television series Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes (1954 TV Series)
The first and only American television series of Sherlock Holmes adventures aired in syndication in the fall of 1954. The 39 half-hour mostly original stories were produced by Sheldon Reynolds and filmed in France by Guild Films, starring Ronald Howard as Holmes and Howard Marion Crawford as Watson...

starring Ronald Howard
Ronald Howard (British actor)
Ronald Howard was an English actor and writer best known in the U.S. for starring in a weekly Sherlock Holmes television series in 1954. He was the son of actor Leslie Howard.- Life and work :...

 as Holmes and Howard Marion Crawford as Watson. This version, titled "The Case of the French Interpreter", alters the source material by making Paul and the Interpreter French, and Kratides (renamed Schrome in this version) signs the documents, Latimer is arrested by Lestrade, and Kemp breaks his neck after being pushed by the interpreter down a flight of stairs.

The story was later adapted for an episode of the 1984-85 television series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes starring Jeremy Brett
Jeremy Brett
Jeremy Brett , born Peter Jeremy William Huggins, was an English actor, most famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in four Granada TV series.-Early life:...

 as Holmes and David Burke as Watson. This version also departs from the source material – in it, Latimer and Kemp succeed in having Kratides sign over Sophy's property to Kemp. After leaving Kratides and Melas to die of sulfur
Sulfur or sulphur is the chemical element with atomic number 16. In the periodic table it is represented by the symbol S. It is an abundant, multivalent non-metal. Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecules with chemical formula S8. Elemental sulfur is a bright yellow...

poisoning, the two, along with Sophy, leave on a train bound for the European continent. However, Holmes, Watson, and Mycroft are able to board the train in pursuit. While the lethargic Mycroft rests, Holmes and Watson confront Latimer and Sophy in their compartment with Kemp absent. Holmes informs the unknowing Sophy that her brother is dead but she states that she is with Latimer by her own free will. When Latimer is hit with the realization that he is facing Sherlock Holmes and has left a witness alive, he attempts to leave the train by the compartment door but is struck by an oncoming train. Mycroft then proves his worth by identifying, disarming, and ultimately, apprehending Kemp. After Sophy and Kemp are taken away, Holmes comments on the cold heart of Sophy.

Wikisource links

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