The Second Stain


Basic Information

Abbreviation: SECO (J. F. Christ, 1947)
Word length: 9,737 (C. E. Lauterbach, 1960)
First published: Strand Magazine, December 1904; Collier's Weekly, January 28, 1905

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think Holmes asked Watson about investing in the South African securities that led up to the case of the dancing men?
  • Was it better for Hilton Cubitt to explain from the beginning of the time when he met his wife to Holmes rather than recount the events in the letter that he sent? If he hadn’t, would it have made the case more difficult for Holmes?
  • How and why are the hieroglyphs depicted as dancing men instead of simply childish drawings? How does Holmes decode it?
  • After reading the story, do you believe that Abe Slaney is the one at fault for murdering Hilton Cubitt and leaving his wife a widow? Or was it the wife’s fault for not saying something sooner? How does this affect the moral of the story?
  • Why do you think Holmes withheld his disclosures from Watson before attempting to meet up with Cubitt?
  • What made Holmes believe that Abe Slaney was an American?
  • What made Holmes sure that Slaney would respond to the letter showing up to the house not long after Cubitt was murdered?
  • Do you believe that the dancing men hieroglyphs could be used for future cases?