Charles Augustus Milverton is a blackmailer who preys on women who have at times slipped into indiscretions. Thus Lady Eva Blackwell wrote several imprudent letters to a young squire, which Milverton now possesses, and threatens to release them to her future husband if she does not give him 7,000 pounds. Sherlock Holmes, who agrees to represent her, refuses payment. Instead he and Watson resort to obtaining the letters by burglarizing Milverton's home. While doing so, they surreptitiously witness his meeting with a veiled woman whose letters had been sent by Milverton to her husband because she had refused to meet his exorbitant financial demands. While taunting her, she draws a revolver, killing him and then leaving. Holmes then empties Milverton's safe and burns all the letters therein, barely escaping from the converging servants. The next day they see the veiled woman's photograph in a window display of beautiful women and celebrities. Watson is staggered by the fact that she is listed as the wife of a great nobleman and statesman who had died after becoming greatly disturbed by her compromising picture which Milverton had sent to him on her refusal to pay blackmail.