Posted By Kathleen David on January 27, 2010
Watson had asked me to look in on Holmes while he was off on the continent with his wife. He didn’t like to leave Mrs. Hudson without means to deal with any incident that might occur while he was gone. After the incident with the cat and the canary, he had promised that he would never leave her without help close at hand.
It was a relatively brisk morning when I stopped by Baker St. People were hurrying down the street all bundled up moving quickly from one warm store to another. I was about to knock on the door of 221b when the door flew open and I found myself being dragged across the threshold by Mrs. Hudson.
“Oh Sir! I am so glad that you came. I am really at my wits end with him. He hasn’t left his rooms in days and there have been all kinds of strange sounds and smells emanating from the sitting room.”
“There, there Mrs. Hudson, “I said while patting her hand gently, “I’m here and I will deal with whatever is going on there. Now why don’t you go get us some tea along with those lovely tea cakes and some toast while I go see what is going on.”
Her visage brightened immediately, “Oh thank you Sir. Thank you.” As if on cue, there was a muffled BOOM from the rooms above. The crystal rattled and pictures went slight askew. Mrs. Hudson absent-mindedly straightened the pictures as she walked to the kitchen.
I went up the stairs with a little trepidation. The fact that he hadn’t left the rooms did nothing to calm the little voices in my head about what frame of mind I would find my friend in. I took a listen at the door and heard Holmes muttering in a rapid pace that he reserved for himself when he was working through a problem or when he had gone to the needle to calm his brain. I steeled my courage to the sticking place and knocked on the door.
The door opened and I found myself dragged over a threshold for the second time that morning.
“What took you so long?” demanded Holmes.
“I saw you coming down the street. I expected you would be here in less than 2 minutes and it has been over 10,” he said very rapidly.
“I had a very nice conversation with Mrs. Hudson before I came up to see you Holmes.” I replied moving towards the curtains. I pulled the first set apart and heard a painful grunt behind me. I turned to look at Holmes. He was rather disheveled and it was obvious that he hadn’t seen to his toiletry in a while. He was trying to look towards me and not look into the pale winter sunlight that was streaming through the window. He wrapped the blue dressing gown around him even tighter.
“Holmes, look at me.”
“Not until you get rid of that loathsome light.” He replied looking away.
I took a couple of steps and opened the next set of curtains which brought more light into the room. “No,” I said, “When is the last time you had something solid to eat?”
He made some non-committal mutterings and flopped down in a chair. At that moment there was a light tapping at the door. I opened it and Mrs. Hudson entered with the tea tray. Holmes glowered at her but didn’t say a word.
“Thank you Mrs. Hudson,” I said, “and could you do me a favor and bring up a pitcher or two of hot water then get us a cab in about an hour. I am taking Mr. Holmes out for the day.”
Holmes snorted in derision to my statement. Mrs. Hudson took a quick look round the room and said, “Yes Sir,” with a slight curtsey and left us alone.
“What makes you think I am going to go anywhere?” said Holmes rather petulantly.
“Because I am going to ask you nicely. Besides I have a box at the Opera and I need someone else to talk to.”
“No a new piece called Manon Lescaut by Puccini. It is supposes to be quite good.”
That seem to get his interest a bit. Then I put the other carrot out there, “I figured we could dine at my club. We have a new wine steward who has brought some new wines in and they got that French chef that you so loved back from the German king.”
Holmes absent-mindedly picked up a piece of toast from the rack and nibbled at the end. He nodded slowly and walked to his rooms. There was another knock on the door. I opened it and it was the maid with the hot water. I took the pitchers from her and send her back downstairs. I put the water in the bathroom and shut the adjoining door. I finally let out the breath I had been holding waiting to see what Holmes’ reaction would be to my proposal and made myself a cup of tea.
Holmes emerge from his rooms about an hour later looking like a totally different man. I grabbed my coat, hat, and walking stick from the couch and we set off for the club.
We were about half way through lunch when a page came with a note for Mr. Holmes. Holmes opened it and said, “The opera may be off for me today. Lestrade is waiting in the lobby for me. Apparently I have been asked for to help with a problem.”
“Do you mind if I come with you?” I asked.
Holmes gave a rather dismissive wave of his hand, “It probably isn’t anything at all but come it you want.”
We walked to the lobby where Inspector Lestrade was trying not to look out of place and failing horribly. His face brighten up considerably when he saw us approach.
“Inspector Lestrade, what brings you to these hallowed halls?” asked Holmes.
Lestrade gave a bob of the head to me and said, ‘Sir, Mr. Holmes, I am sorry to disturb your lunch but there is a matter that has been passed to me that I was informed I must get Mr. Holmes for.”
“What sort of matter?” asked Holmes feigning disinterest but I could tell that the Inspector had his attention.
“It seems to be a missing persons Mr. Holmes, “began Lestrade. Holmes made a dismissive wave of his hand. Lestrade continued, “It’s a young girl. According to witnesses she was following a large white hare down a rabbit hole. Since then the girl has not been seen. Apparently the rabbit had on a very nice waistcoat and was looking at its pocket watch before it went down the hole.”
“Surely you must be joking?” exploded from my lips.
“I wish I were Sir.” He replied, “So Mr. Holmes will you come take a look?”
Holmes rubbed his hands together and said, “Lead on.”