“The Five Orange Pips”

Note: the tab marked "Explanation" reveals the ending of the story. Do not view that if you are reading the story for the first time and do not want to spoil your enjoyment.
Title: The Five Orange Pips Collection: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Year published: 1891 (November) Year set in: 1887
Mystery: What is the meaning of the five orange pips?
Apparent crime: Murder Actual crime: Shown below (possible spoiler)
Summary: Two brothers are both found dead after receiving a mysterious letter with five orange pips. Then the son of one of them also receives the letter.

Elias Openshaw, who had spent some time in the USA returns to England and lives in isolation. Some years later, he is terrified to receive a letter with five orange pips and the letters KKK. Some months after, he is found dead, apparently from suicide.

His brother inherits his estate and, later, also receives a similar letter. Again he is found dead, apparently from an accident.

When his son, who inherited the estate, also receives a letter, he goes to see Holmes.

Actual crime
Explanation (spoiler alert)

When Elias Openshaw was in the USA, he got involved with the Ku Klux Klan. He fled from them to England with some incriminating documents. The letter with the orange pips was a threat to return the documents or die.

Holmes is too late to save the young Openshaw and, before he manages to capture the killers, they die when their ship sinks.

Quotations in this story (1)
"I have come for advice."
"That is easily got."
"And help."
"That is not always so easy."

Characters in this story (4)
Surname First name Title
Holmes Sherlock
Openshaw Elias
Openshaw John
Watson John Doctor

Locations in this story (1)
Location Town/City County
221b Baker Street London

Other notes

One of the few stories where Holmes fails to help the client who is killed the evening that he engages him.


Colonel John Openshaw Elias Horsham orange pips Klux Klan Pondicherry Dundee Florida sundial James Calhoun Lone Star