THE AMERICAN'S STORY
Sir Arthur CONAN DOYLE. Autograph manuscript of a short story, 'The American's Story', written in pen and pencil with revisions 30 pages, (reversed) in a medical notebook entitled 'Notes on Medicine Session 1879-80. Compiled from the Clinical Class from the infirmary wards, and from epitomes of the Systematic class. A. Conan Doyle', with medical notes on 30 pages, humorous verse celebrating the Royal College of Surgeons [of Edinburgh], 23 lines on 1½ pages, verse 'Demagogues once in an Isle of the West' [Ireland], 19 lines, scribbling on 2 pages plus blanks, one gathering of leaves removed, original red and green cloth, worn, 8vo.
The story is narrated by Jefferson Adams who insists that "if you wants real interesting facts, some thing a bit juicy, go to your whalers and your frontiersmen and your miners and Hudson Bay men.' His subject is the death of Joe Hawkins in Montana ('Alabama Joe as he was called thereabouts. A regular out and outer he was, 'bout the darndest Skunk as ever man clapt eyes on') with a cast of characters including Dawson 'our scientific man'. At Simpson's bar Joe Hawkins picks a quarrel with a foreigner Tom Stott [later in the story changed to Scott] who challenges him and beats him in a fight with bare fists. Maddened by this insult and knowing that Scott would pass through 'Flytrap Gulch' on his way home, Hawkins lies in wait to wreak his revenge. The following day Hawkins had disappeared and his friends, discovering that Scott was still alive, vow to hang him by the great flytrap in the Gulch. But when they reached the flytrap they stood and gaped in astonishment:
"One of the great leaves of the flytrap ... was slowly rollin' back upon its hinges so to speak. There lying like a child in a cradle was Alabama Joe in the hollow o' the leaf. The great thorns had been slowly drivin through his heart [crossed through] chest as it shut upon him."
This was only the second story Conan Doyle sold for publication. It appears in his accounts (Lot 35) for 1879: 'American's Tale (London Society), £1. 10. 0', and was published in the Christmas number of that Journal for 1880. It was reprinted and collected in the American and Continental editions of Mysteries and Adventures (Green and Gibson, A4. xi).
The medical notes include 'The Constitutional Complications of Gout', 'Treatments of Rheumatism' and clinical notes on named patients and their symptoms.