Disclaimer: I'm not Conan Doyle. I love Holmes too much to kill him :PWarning: H/W slashRating: G
Chapter OneJump to Chapter Two
I was passing my old door in Baker Street one day, on the way home after visiting a patient in the district, when suddenly there came into my heart a deep desire to see my old friend Holmes again. No sooner had I thought it than I had rung the bell, smiled at Mrs. Hudson as I passed her and climbed up the stairs with all the haste that I had been wont to give to chasing the Kurds in my army days in Afghanistan.
"Holmes!" I cried as I burst through his door, "How are you, my dear fellow?"
He looked around at my entrance; he had been sitting in his favourite chair, turned away from the door, and in his hand was the little case of morocco leather in which he kept his hypodermic syringe.
"Why, Watson," he said, "it has been far too long since I have seen you. And you come in the very nick of time: you save me from the unutterable boredom that had almost impelled me to take out my cocaine again."
"You are reluctant to do so? Holmes, I would not have believed it possible! Have I at last convinced you to give it up?"
"I have not touched the syringe for three weeks. But enough of that! Why do you come in such a hurry? Have you a case for me?"
His keen eyes sparkled as he said it, and I saw his predicament. The working mood had come upon him - the drug-induced dreams had palled - he wanted, needed to work and there was no problem to solve.
"Why, have you nothing in hand?"
"No, Watson, I am abandoned. Lestrade, Gregson, Athelney Jones; none of them are out of their shallow depth at present. But how is it that your wife has been away all week?"
I was taking off my hat and coat as he said that, and paused in the very act of laying them over a chair. I had not seen my friend for almost a month, and knew that he had received word from no other source. Although I was past being surprised at his uncanny deductions, it was some little shock to me to know that he could still read my mind. A shock, I say, but a comfortable shock with the pleasure of familiarity. I had come home.
"Holmes, I have given up wondering how you do it. But I thought that our little household had been quite self-reliant, and managed quite well in her absence."
"No doubt; but you omitted to brush your hat. In my experience, neither men nor maidservants can remember that hats must be brushed; it is only the wife who will remember, and so the dust on your hat, coupled with the tallow on your sleeve, is an infallible indication that your wife is away. What is she doing?"
"Do you remember her old employer - Mrs. Forrester? She is making a tour of France and has invited Mary to join her. They will be away quite five weeks more, and Mary was at first reluctant to leave England for so long. But she has never been to France and I told her to go. From the letter I received this morning, she is enjoying herself immensely."
"I am glad to hear it. But come, Watson, you must take up your residence with me again until her return. Six weeks is a long time to be alone in a house with such a bad servant as yours."
"The dust on my hat?" I asked, sitting down and taking out my cigarette-case.
"That too, but I was looking at the coffee stain on your sleeve. They are easily got out with a little care, but clearly that is beyond her. Do give her a holiday, my dear fellow."
"I was about to give her her notice! But the notion of staying here is an attractive one - I think I shall. Let me go home to pack a bag, and I will be with you soon."
I hurried from the flat, more pleased that I could tell to be returning to bachelor life with Holmes. Even for only a month.
Chapter TwoJump to Chapter One
The next morning, I awoke early and was at breakfast before my friend. He was visibly taken aback at seeing me already embarking upon bacon and eggs when he stepped through the door; and I took a secret pleasure in thus discommoding my friend.
"Why, Watson," he remarked as he sat, "Your wife has taught you punctuality, if nothing else." He seemed about to make further comment, but thought better of it. That was wise, for I was badly missing my wife. Although I often left her during the day, and even occasionally for one night, I had never been away from her for more than three days since our first meeting. Had he made any disparaging comment, as I fear he was too often apt to do, I doubt whether I would have held my tongue.
There was a rather awkward silence for some minutes, as Holmes began to eat. I had forgotten how good a cook Mrs Hudson was; she had cooked the bacon to perfection. Our maid at home - our former maid, rather, for I had given her notice before I arrived to stay with Holmes - had never grasped the principle of bacon. It had reached the table so burnt and crisp that it was impossible even to stab it with one's fork; and when I had remonstrated for the seventh time with her about this, she had burst into tears and proceeded to the opposite extreme, serving bacon so uncooked that it was still translucent. As a respectable and well-informed medical man, I could not bring myself to eat such raw meat. Eggs had been no better. Fried eggs had disintegrated in the pan, the yolk and white so inextricably mixed that the burnt toast could not penetrate; scrambled eggs had been burned and under-seasoned; and although I had told her time and time again that four minuted sufficed for a soft-boiled egg, she had persisted in cooking them for twenty. However much I missed Mary, I could not miss Nora's cooking.
I remarked something upon this theme to Holmes, who murmured, "I always knew you to be a secret romantic... but I now realise your inclinations must run very deep. It is not the lot of every man's romanticism to survive such vicissitudes."
"Really, Holmes!" I protested, "I knew /you/ for a cynic, but with that you have gone too far. It is poor love indeed that cannot survive a short separation!"
Abashed by my glare, I supposed, he dropped his eyes meekly but remarked with his customary acerbic wit, "I was referring to the far greater vicissitude of an inferior maid, my very dear Watson."
It was not fair, emphatically not fair. He always managed to outwit me. I could count only two occasions on which I had got the better of him in a contest of wit; but, I consoled myself, few men could boast a better brain than Sherlock Holmes.