I’d like to ask about this sentence from the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger" (1927) by Arthur Conan Doyle:

From that day I was in hell, and he the devil who tormented me. There was no one in the show who did not know of his treatment. He deserted me for others. He tied me down and lashed me with his riding-whip when I complained.

This “he” and “I” were husband and wife, he’s dead when she is speaking of him though.

What I want to confirm is what “He deserted me for others” means. Does this mean he was having an affair? That doesn’t sound right so me somehow. For one, “he” here is ugly wild-boar type man, even he had power and influence as the ringmaster of this traveling circus, did any women go to him, when there were few women in the troupe in the first place? For another, this woman “I” didn’t love this husband at all. So if he was having affair did (does) she even care?

Can this part be interpreted other than he having affairs? Thanks.


1 Answer 1


I've read the Wikipedia summary of the story and I'm sure your interpretation is the only likely one. After describing the violence and cruelty of the man, Mrs. Ronder is clearly not expressing regret at his leaving her alone. At first glance "deserted me for others" doesn't seem quite right, but I think it is a euphemism.

She is simply saying 'he slept with other women', but a century ago that would have been found shockingly blunt. Circus troupes were perhaps looser in their morals than most and blunter in their speech, but in the company of gentlemen (I'm assuming Holmes and Watson are there) and confident that they'll know exactly what she means, she chooses her words sensitively.

  • Not to mention that using blunter language might impugn her own character.
    – Mary
    Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 0:51

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