Lord Bellinger and the Right Honorable Trelawney Hope, Secretary for European Affairs, visit Sherlock Holmes at 221B Baker street to have him find a missing document, which, if published, could lead to war. It had been kept in a dispatch box at the Secretary's home. Holmes suggests to Watson three possible individuals, any one of whom could have stolen the document to use for bribery. One of them, Lucas, is found murdered at his home, which Holmes visits with Inspector Lestrade. They find that the bloodstain on the carpet is not in the same position as the one on the floor. Holmes finds a cavity, but it does not contain the missing document which he had expected. Holmes deduces that Hope's wife, Lady Hilda, had taken it. She confesses that she gave it to Lucas who was blackmailing her about an indiscreet letter she had written as a girl and that she was the one who had taken the letter back after she saw a jealous women kill him at his home Holmes tells her to put it back into the dispatch box, where her husband finds it, much to his surprise and puzzlement, but intense relief.