Mary Maberly is the elderly mother of Douglas Maberly, a young man who died in Rome several months earlier. When Mrs. Maberly is approached by a man who wants to buy not only her house but also its entire contents, including her personal belongings, Mary Maberly becomes suspicious and consults Sherlock Holmes.
Sherlock Holmes is recovering from a visit by Steve Dixie, a boxing champion employed as a heavy by a person who is the motivating force behind the purchase of Mrs. Maberly's house.
Holmes discovers that young Douglas Maberly had been having an affair with Isadora Klein, a mysterious woman of disreputable origins who has nevertheless built up a good reputation for herself in London society. He discovers that young Maberly had been writing a book about the affair and that the content of the book would have led to Isadora Klein's social ruin and possible criminal charges. Realising that it is the manuscript of the book which the mysterious buyer is after and that Mrs. Maberly is in danger Holmes sends Watson to keep guard on her. Unfortunately, Watson is involved in an altercation with Steve Dixie and comes off second best, and Mrs. Maberly is also assaulted during the attack.
Ultimately Holmes warns Isadora Klein to keep away from Mrs. Maberly, telling her that he retains the incriminating part of the manuscript which she is after. Isadora Klein complies, realising that any further actions by her could lead to her social ruin at the hands of Sherlock Holmes.
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