The setting is shortly after the demise of stockbrokers Coxon & Woodhouse. Mr. Hall Pycroft has no sooner found a new position to replace the job he lost than he is approached by an unknown gentleman who offers him even better and higher paying employment. Pycroft accepts the offer and is told to contact the gentleman’s brother. After traveling to what have been called the temporary offices of the Franco-Midland Hardware Company, Limited, what he sees and hears during his interview raises alarms in his mind. Uncertain of what the strange events all mean, he has come to Sherlock Holmes. Holmes brings Pycroft along to Watson’s residence and invites his now-married friend along on this new adventure.