Title: The Case of Missing Whisky
Rating: PG for big words
Disclaimer: I own nothing beyond my own depraved imagination and some of the words. Remember, you must pay me .002 cents every time you use the word "the."
Additional Disclaimer: This story contains absolutely no time travel.
Disclaimer for Additional Disclaimer: Sorry, had to get that off my chest.
Author's note: I've been kicking this idea around my brain since my Great Doyle Kick of 2000, shortly following the release, and my subsequent digestion, of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." This is primarily an attempt to add an admittedly unlikely chapter to Watson's delightful chronicles of his adventures with Holmes. However, there's plenty of food for plot for Potter fans, as well, including my self-proclaimed brilliant explanations of Albus Dumbledore's more eccentric (by wizarding standards) habits. Any misogynistic comments by Holmes are included for characterisation and for my own great amusement.
Period note: I've done my darndest to be historically and canonically accurate, so if you spot anything inappropriate, let me know so I can kick myself and change it. Please believe that it took all of my will power to keep from mentioning the Giant Rat of Sumatra, because, really, do you think the world is ready to hear it?
It is with no small amount of apprehension that I take up my pen to write about the extraordinary events of "The Case of Missing Whisky," a quaint conundrum of a name for a case whose details must be swathed in secrecy indefinitely. Never in all my years of chronicling the adventures of my friend Sherlock Holmes has a case so remained in the forefront of my consciousness, filling me with feelings of uncertainty as to my place in the world as an investigator, a physician, even a rational member of the human race.
When I approached Holmes with my intention of writing about the case, he gave a harsh laugh and expressed false regret that the case was no longer a source of pregnant silence between the two of us, and that he should miss its presence. However, he eventually surrendered his notes on the case before sinking into an introspective silence and gazing out the window on to Baker Street below.
The events in question took place not long after the "Adventure of the Empty House," a tumultuous time for me, having within a relatively short span, lost my wife and regained a dear friend. My practise occupied me sufficiently at first, but in the weeks following Holmes's sudden return, I took to spending more time in my old chair at 221b Baker Street. Holmes never spoke of Mary's death, for which I am grateful, but he would intersperse the extended silences with sudden questions relating to a case or topic he had been researching, often startling me out of my melancholy. It was on one of these Sundays that Holmes accosted me with an item in the Times.
"Watson what do you make of this?"
Missing: twelve cases fine whisky. Disappeared early morning 14 September from Grosvenor Square home. Reward.
"The writer must have been looking to save money to place such a crude advertisement,"
"Quite, Watson. The way each word takes on meaning beyond its definition borders on poetry. But how can such an penurious author reside at such a prestigious address?"
"Perhaps he has recently begun reaping the benefits of lifelong frugality. Or perhaps the advertisement was placed by one of his retainers; one new or young enough to still be timid with his master's money."
His eyes danced. "And is that all you can glean from this paper?"
"I fear that my mind has become unaccustomed to such exercise, Holmes."
"Then we shall have to work twice as hard to return it to its former state. From this paper, I deduce that the advertisement was placed by the grandson of the recently deceased Algernon Billings of 37 Grosvenor Square, one John Eddington by name, in an attempt to recover part of his grandfather's bequest. Young Eddington is in his late twenties, makes a modest income and lives in a small house in order to compensate for his love of fine wine."
I stared at my friend in unabashed amazement. "You divined all that from that paltry advertisement?"
His lip twitched in amusement. "Watson, you have admitted to me that your powers of reason have weakened from lack of use. I hope that your hearing is not equally atrophied. I said that I had gleaned from the paper all that I needed to know. I fear I may have misled you in that you will be unable to find the information that I was privy to, as it has already been removed for my index. Kindly peruse the entry for Algernon Billings."
I found the file sandwiched between a biography of a German wrestler and notes for what appeared to be a critique of harmonic theory, and noticed that a lengthy obituary had recently been attached. It was a sensational item detailing the life and times of Algernon Billings, philanthropist and notorious epicure. Numerous smaller news items were clipped together behind it; largely society news items and the occasional police report from rows in restaurants.
"I begin to see how you reasoned thus, Holmes, but surely you have had some other contact with the man in order to know so much about him, especially for you to bait me so."
He laughed. "My dear Watson, though I may fault your logic, I cannot fault your conclusion. Yes, I have had a letter from Mr. John Eddington." He drew a letter from his pocket and handed it to me, then turned and began to pace his usual circuit in front of the window.
Dear Mr. Sherlock Holmes,
A mutual acquaintance, Mrs. Violet Bassett, née Hunter, has recommended your particular skills to me about a matter that may appear unimportant, though I am positive that once you are informed of the facts you shall see it as a case with merits of principle that reach far beyond the committed crime. Certain items that I recently acquired have been stolen from my late grandfather's estate, and the Scotland Yard investigators have not been able to determine how the items were removed from the house. As I am unsure whether their findings are due to a lack of evidence or my lack of social station, I seek an impartial third party to investigate on my behalf. I will call on you at your convenience
- Yours, John Eddington.
"Do you really think it unusual, Holmes?" I asked. "It sounds to me like a run-of-the-mill theft, most likely perpetrated by a local cut-purse who took advantage of the confusion that inevitably surrounds any estate assignation. I can't see what sounds at all interesting about it."
"As low an opinion as I have of the observational faculties of our local constabulary, I cannot imagine that even they would be unable to determine how twelve cases of whisky vanished from the wine cellar of a well-to-do family, especially a family who have contributed generously to the Policemen's Ball for many years."
"So you suspect a dispute between Mr. Eddington and other family members, then?"
"Watson, you know I never theorize before I have all the evidence. It biases the judgment."
The sound of someone ascending the stairs jolted us to attention.
"Ah," said Holmes glancing at the clock on the mantel. "As the footfalls are too heavy for it to be Mrs. Hudson, it seems that Eddington is as punctual as he is precise with words."
Refusing to show dismay at the loss of my private audience with Holmes, I stood and to get my coat.
"Excuse me, I don't wish to keep you from your business." Holmes put his hand on my arm, concern clearly etched on his face.
"Dear Watson, I did not mean for you to leave; quite the contrary. Oh- I see, you felt I was slighting your company for a client! My apologies. I merely scheduled the meeting with Eddington at the time when you were most likely to be here, for I suspect I shall depend quite heavily on you should this case prove to be as challenging as I anticipate."
I was quite embarrassed by this. "Really, Holmes, I don't know what kind of help I should be. I expect you shall take a cursory glance at the house and know how the whisky was removed, when, and the name of the thief. In comparison to your other adventures, this case sounds so ordinary."
"Unless I am much mistaken, its commonplace nature is a suggestion of inner complexity. As was the case with the Red-Headed League, the more bizarre a thing is, the less mysterious it proves to be. It is your commonplace, featureless crimes that are really puzzling."
His reference to that old case brought a smile to my face, and it was on that tableau that Mr. John Eddington entered the study. He was, as Holmes had predicted, young and was respectably dressed, though his jacket was several years out of fashion and was stressed at the elbows. His trousers had the same look; well-cut but well-worn. Eddington himself was of average height and bore himself with an economic and self-reliant step. His features were pleasant, except for a tight, nervous mouth with thin lips that he continually moistened with quick darts of the tongue, and his nose, though unremarkable in size, had particularly large and rounded nostrils.
"Good day, Mr. Eddington," said Holmes, "Pray take a seat. This is my friend and colleague, Dr. Watson."
Eddington acknowledged me with a nod of his head and sat. "Mrs. Bassett mentioned your name in conjunction with Mr. Holmes's." He turned to face my friend. "I must admit to being somewhat curious as to what kind of service a private detective could have done to earn the gratitude of such an upstanding and fine lady, though it is more than curiosity that brings me here today."
Holmes rested his elbows on the arms of his chair interlaced his fingers under his chin.
"Before you relate the facts of the case, indulge me a simple answer. As you are not particularly knowledgeable of whisky nor even particularly fond of the drink, are your reasons for locating Mr. Billings' whisky sentimental, or do you plan to sell it, since teaching music is not a particularly lucrative profession?"
Eddington inhaled sharply through his nose. "What manner of deceit is this? Has Augustus already approached you? Am I to receive justice from no quarter?" His face was becoming quite red. Holmes waved a hand dismissively.
"Dear sir, please calm yourself. I assure you that I have spoken to no-one save Dr. Watson about the details of your case."
"Then how could you speak of it thus when I gave you no specifics about myself or the items that were stolen?"
Holmes stood and handed our guest the paper that contained his advertisement with an impatient sigh.
"Really, Mr. Eddington, if you were so anxious to remain anonymous, you should not have placed an advertisement about the whisky. From the words "fine whisky," I deduced that the writer of the piece had little or no knowledge of the drink; otherwise he would have included the brand or whisky-maker name in the advertisement to aid in identification of the lot. As you are an educator of steady but modest income, hardly the type to purchase twelve cases of expensive alcohol with no prior knowledge, I concluded that the cases were either a gift or an inheritance. When the advertisement in question appeared in the same edition of the Times as an obituary of a well-known connoisseur, it did not take much to connect the two. As to the details of your person, from the chalk half-heartedly brushed from the lapels of your jacket, I deduce that you are an educator as well as a bachelor. One, whom I might add is in need of a more conscientious cook, judging from the burned porridge on your cuff. As to the particular subject of your pedagogy, the notable musculature around your mouth and the distinctive spread between the ring and middle fingers of your left hand led me to believe that you have played the oboe for many years, presumably in the instruction of music at Mrs. Bassett's fine academy in Walsall."
During Holmes' speech, our guest's anger faded to astonishment. "It is all true," he admitted when Holmes had finished. "Even about hiring a new cook. Mr. Holmes, I apologize for becoming upset. I now understand that Mrs. Bassett's faith in you is not misplaced. In fact, from what I have seen thus far, perhaps she underestimated your skills, though until just now I would not have thought it possible for anyone to live up to such glowing praise."
Holmes seemed pleased by the compliment, and he resumed his position in his chair by the fire.
Eddington took the drink I offered him. He unconsciously swirled it under his nose and inhaled deeply before taking a sip.
"To answer your question, Mr. Holmes, I hope to regain my grandfather's whisky for many reasons, most of which are sentimental. Firstly, I held him in very high regard, as I was the only surviving member of the family who shared his great love of fine wines, and we had become very close of late. He had promised to instruct me in the appreciation of the drink, but alas, he was never able to make good on the offer. Secondly, I inherited only the contents of my grandfather's wine cellar, a very small portion of the estate. He had a great deal of investments, a town house filled with fine furniture and antiquities, a great deal of land in Derbyshire and Shropshire, and an impressive collection of art and literature. Naturally, most of these things went to his son Augustus. His wine cellar, in spite of his reputation as a gourmet, was relatively small and contained very few famous wines. You see, Grandfather believed that the Almighty lends a bit of himself to only a few winemakers in any certain year, and that the duty of the connoisseurs is to locate the blessed fruits of the obscure vineyards as well as the famous."
Holmes was silent for a moment, thinking. "If you will pardon the indelicacy, Mr. Eddington, what can you tell me of your mother's relationship to her parents?"
If Eddington was surprised by the sudden change of topic, he did not show it. He merely paused a moment to regard Holmes with a shrewd look. "You immediately cut to the heart of the matter. My mother never spoke of her family while I was growing up, Mr. Holmes. It was obvious to me that she was educated and intelligent, but she forbade me to ask of her family. In retrospect, I'm sure she wished to spare me the pain she endured from the hateful actions of her mother, and I do not blame her for shielding me from her relations. As both of my parents were sadly taken in an influenza epidemic during my undergraduate days, the secret of my mother's family went with them to their graves."
"And when did you first come to know your grandfather?"
"I was first contacted by Mr. Algernon Billings in my final year at the conservatory. I was understandably shocked when he informed me, upon our first meeting, that he was in fact my grandfather. That evening I finally learned of my origins."
"A most unusual way of acquiring relations. Tell me of this great wrong suffered by your mother."
"My mother, Amelia, was the firstborn of Algernon and Augusta Billings. When she was sixteen, her mother began looking into suitable marriages for her, though she soon became frustrated with Amelia's refusal of every candidate she brought before her. Soon after my mother turned eighteen, the situation was declared dire by my grandmother. She coerced her husband into forcing Amelia to marry into an old and wealthy family, a decision my grandfather regretted to his dying day.
'The day before the wedding was to have taken place, Amelia eloped with her music instructor and they were soon married. Grandmother forbade any member of the family to establish or maintain contact with my mother. She then spread vicious slanders against my father's character, and he was not able to secure any kind of teaching position for many years after. Fortunately, both my parents were resourceful enough to prosper in this difficult time, even while raising me. I'm sure you understand why my mother never asked her parents for help.
"When my grandmother died in an equestrian accident at my grandfather's Shropshire estate, it did not take Grandfather long to locate me, as he had secretly been keeping track of me since the cook reported to him a chance meeting with my mother and me in Billingsgate."
"Had your mother any other blood relatives?"
"Yes, Augustus, her younger brother. Grandfather said that they were close before Augustus was sent to boarding school, though I find that hard to believe now."
"Why is that?"
"Soon after establishing contact with me, Grandfather arranged for me to meet the other members of the family at a dinner in his home in Grosvenor Square, assuming that they would be as happy to meet me as he was. Sadly, this proved not to be the case.
"It seems that Augustus had been somehow been poisoned against me, judging by the disgusted expressions on his face when he would speak of my parents or my profession. He made insinuations against my having grown up in Cheapside and my education at Oxford. He was quite clear in stating that he wished Grandfather had never found me. At the time I was horrified by his lack of gentility, though I accredited his rudeness to jealousy of my mother for having given his father a grandchild while he himself was unmarried.
"That night I also met my grandmother's sisters Hortense and Lucretia, who seemed unable to open their mouths without finding fault with something, as well as my grandfather's brother, John, who was very kind to me and reminded me much of my own mother. Conversation was somewhat forced until I complimented Grandfather on his selection of wine to suit the meal. As I had fallen in with the Oenophile Society while at Oxford, I had developed a keen appreciation for the art of matching wines with food. Grandfather was delighted, and we spent most of the evening discussing wines. After dinner, Grandfather showed me his wine cellar and had me select a port for the gentlemen to enjoy with cigars in the study. So pleased was he with my choice that he invited me to his club the following weekend.
"And so it has been for the last three years that I have met with my Grandfather at his club twice a month to discuss comestibles and the issues of the day. I greatly enjoyed those times with him and shall miss him terribly."
Holmes nodded. "When did you receive the news of your grandfather's death?"
"Mr. Rookwood, my grandfather's legal representative, delivered the news to me on Wednesday, the eleventh of September, following my afternoon lessons. It was a mere two days before the funeral on the thirteenth. Fortunately, Mrs. Bassett was kind enough to give me the day off in spite of the short notice."
"When was the reading of the will?"
"Since there was absolutely no question on the cause of death, the entire process was considerably hastened by my grandfather's meticulous estate planning. The funeral was on Friday morning, and the reading of the will was the same afternoon."
I cleared my throat. "If you don't mind my asking, how did he die?"
Eddington started, as if he had forgotten my presence in the room. "He choked to death on a pheasant bone while dining at his club. A horrible accident, to be sure."
Holmes stood abruptly and began pacing the room. "Who was present at the reading of the will?"
"Twelve of us all-together: myself; my Uncle Augustus; Grandfather's brother John; my grandmother's sisters, Aunts Lucretia and Hortense; Grandfather's manservant; the housekeeper; the cook; Dr. Hardwicke and Col. Melchitt, two of his closest companions, a second cousin on the Billings side by the name of Montpelier, and Mr. Rookwood, the executor of the will."
Holmes paused in his pacing. "What firm does Mr. Rookwood represent?"
"I couldn't say, Mr. Holmes. I believe Rookwood has handled my grandparents' legal affairs for many years. Though I have only met him twice, he seems a very kind man and quite dedicated to preserving my grandparents' wishes."
"Thank you, Mr. Eddington. Pray, continue."
"The twelve of us convened in the dining room of Grandfather's town house at about two in the afternoon. Mr. Rookwood produced the will and read its contents. As you can imagine, the primary beneficiary was Augustus, though the Aunts received much that belonged to their sister, including a great deal of the art that the two of them collected. However, Grandfather rewarded the rest of us with things that he knew we would appreciate. His brother John, a concert pianist, received an antique pianoforte worth nearly three thousand pounds. Montpelier, a stockbroker, received a handsome portfolio of Grandfather's investments. Hardwicke and Melchitt received a few excellent volumes of literature selected from Grandfather's private library. The servants received glowing letters of reference and generous sums, the cook most of all. Rookwood himself received an impressive sum and a private letter that he did not read aloud.
"For most of the reading of the will, we maintained a cordial atmosphere, though my grandmother's sisters barely even acknowledged their bequests and spoke only to Rookwood. Augustus, my uncle, was not much better and was the instigator of the only dispute over the estate: the contents of the wine cellar being left to me. He spoke some sharp words to both Rookwood and myself, and insisted on taking a tour of the wine cellar with me after the will reading was over. He also insisted on viewing the bequests to both Montpelier and John." Eddington's voice betrayed great annoyance. "Of course, he didn't require audience with the items inherited by the Aunts."
"And what do you think was the reason for his inspection?"
My friend's question was greeted with a bitter laugh.
"Well, isn't it obvious? Augustus wanted to make sure the most valuable items weren't being given to the Billings side of the family, an act that I find exceeding ironic, as my grandmother's family is not at all known in social circles; yet there they were, putting on airs as if they were heirs to the throne. I would bet that Montpelier is missing the documentation for a few choice bonds and Grandfather's friends are missing the colour prints from their books. John was lucky enough to have received a single item of value, though if I were him, I would inspect the works before I attempted to have the piano moved, lest the hammers have been removed for the value of the felt."
"Please, Mr. Eddington. I ask that you forego speculation and limit yourself to the facts of the case. Now, please describe your trip to the wine cellar in as much detail as you are able to recall. Remember, the smallest observation may prove instrumental to solving the case."
The flush in Eddington's cheeks faded during Holmes' speech, and he appeared greatly chastened. "Yes, I apologize. As you can see, the dislike I feel for my uncle has clouded my judgment." He sighed heavily, and continued his speech.
"The key to the wine cellar had been removed from probate as soon as the cause of death had been determined, as the key ring was on his person when he died. Not even the servants had a duplicate, so dear was the cellar to him. When Rookwood presented me with the key, I enquired as to the existence of another key to the cellar. He assured me that the key was the only one that would open the lock, aside from the master key owned by the locksmith that would open every lock of his manufacture. Having heard Rookwood's assurances, I noticed my great-aunt Lucretia exchange a smug look with my uncle-- I know you asked me to refrain from personal commentary, but the look shared by the two seemed significant enough to warrant mention. But I digress.
"When the reading of the will was over, Augustus followed me into the kitchen and to the wine cellar door. Were he a child and not an adult, I would have characterized his behaviour as petulant.
"The key worked smoothly in the lock, and we descended two flights of stairs into Grandfather's wine cellar. I had been into the cellar only once before, though I had not been able to examine its contents thoroughly. I had been quite amazed at the multitude of bottles, painstaking organized by type of grape, country of origin, and finally, by vineyard. I was still impressed by the detached way in which the wines were organized; the legendary '47 Bordeaux were not displayed more prominently than the wines of Australian origin. Indeed, it was a gourmet's wine cellar.
"I wandered through the shelves, taking in the occasional handwritten note in Grandfather's hand, through bottles of wines and ports, casks of sherries, and a small but distinguished selection of brandies before I encountered the whiskys. Now as you know, I have no great experience with whisky, but I am familiar with many of the notable brands, at least in name. My attention was soon drawn to a large number of single-malts of a distiller with which I was unfamiliar. I am sure that the ones that disappeared were these obscure single-malt whiskys. At the time, I assumed they were the product of a small but prestigious Scottish maker, though I have been unable to locate a name that sounds familiar in my subsequent research.
"I soon found Augustus looming over my shoulder, and his face quite drained of colour at the sight of the bottles. My curiosity was aroused by his reaction, but before I could say anything, he rudely informed me that he wished to inspect the other bequests within the week and suggested that we leave the cellar. He also muttered something extremely unflattering about Grandfather. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I allowed myself to be distracted by his uncalled-for comment, and I began to argue with him instead of questioning him about the bottles or even committing the brand of whisky to memory. He ignored me and ascended the stairs, head held high. I followed, incensed, though I was not so angry that I forgot to lock the door to the cellar when we reached the kitchen.
"By then, I had composed myself enough to coolly inform Augustus that I would be coming the next day to begin moving the contents of the wine cellar to my home. He was surprised by this and told me not to be daft. He said that I hadn't the room in my house and that the contents would be better off in the wine cellar. He even 'generously' offered to catalogue the items in the cellar himself.
"As I had no desire to be in debt to the man or spend any more time in his company than absolutely necessary, I refused his offer as civilly as I could. I then made my excuses and spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the house, observing the grand rooms and furnishings, and paying my final respects to Grandfather.
"Shortly before we adjourned at five o'clock, I arranged to meet Augustus at eleven the next morning to let me into the house. I returned to my home and spent the evening moving furniture to accommodate Grandfather's collection.
"The next morning, I hired a dray to Grandfather's house. Augustus was there to let me in, sulky as usual, though he was mercifully silent as he led me and the young men I had hired to the kitchen. The door to the wine cellar was locked, just as I had left it, but as soon as I opened the door, I knew that someone had been there. I am extremely sensitive to dust and was grateful that on my previous visits that Grandfather's wine cellar was unusually dust-free. When I had recovered from my first bout of sneezing enough to place my handkerchief over my face, my first thought was of the whiskys that had so strongly affected Augustus. I strode to the whisky section, and found that they were gone. I simultaneously sent for Rookwood and Scotland Yard."
"Did you notice anything at all different from the cellar, apart from the missing whisky and the dust?"
"I later examined the premises with handkerchief firmly in place and found nothing else to be missing, though I was not able to anything of note much through my teary eyes upon my first entrance."
"That is unfortunate. Who was the head of the primary detective assigned to the case?"
"I believe his name was Atheleny Jones."
"That is even more unfortunate. I assume Scotland Yard were unable to determine how the whisky thief entered, and in the course of their ineffective and fruitless investigation trampled on any real clues that may have been left behind. Suspecting nefarious acts on the part of your uncle, you placed an anonymous advertisement in the paper, but you received no leads. As your frustrations grew, you confided in your employer, who suggested that you contact me to investigate on your behalf."
"Precisely, Mr. Holmes. Are you willing to do so?"
Holmes assumed an indifferent air; one that I had seen him affect in order to cultivate interest or procure a favour. "Mr. Eddington, I have enough of a reputation in this city as to be particular in the cases I choose to investigate. This reputation also affords me the luxury of setting my own fees based on the merits of the case. Therefore I will take your case on one condition."
At the mention of a fee, a slight flush rose in Eddington's face, though his features did not betray it. "And what is that condition, Mr. Holmes?"
"If I am able to locate the twelve cases of whisky, I require a single bottle as payment."
Eddington's shoulders relaxed. "Mr. Holmes, if you are able to locate all twelve cases, both you and Dr. Watson are welcome to a case apiece, if you desire."
Holmes raised an admonishing finger. "A single bottle for myself and a bottle for Dr. Watson, but no more. I would also suggest that you refrain from giving away any more bottles before you know precisely what is in your twelve cases. Now, Mr. Eddington, I wish to inspect the wine cellar as soon as possible."
"I suspected as much, Mr. Holmes, and I requested that my uncle Augustus be in my grandfather's former residence this afternoon."
Holmes narrowed his eyes. "You were so certain that I would take your case?"
This time Eddington smiled. "Since you were kind enough to take my case, I am able to show you the cellar without delay and further deterioration of the subtler clues. If you had not taken the case, then I would have needlessly vexed Augustus; an act for which I would feel less than no remorse."
Holmes' lips twitched. "I see. If you would be so kind as to arrange for our transportation, we will be off to your uncle's."
Eddington stood and exited the room a great deal more enthusiasm than he had entered it. Holmes turned to face me.
"What do you make of all this, Watson?"
"Well, there's a great deal more involved than I had originally thought, I daresay, Holmes. I shouldn't be surprised if all those bottles contain something quite different from whisky."
"And what is your theory, Watson?"
"There is something very odd about the late Mrs. Billings' family." I shook my head in disgust. "I cannot think well of them for treating their own flesh and blood so shabbily. My guess is that the lot of them were up to something dishonest and that the elder Mr. Billings was left blissfully in the dark. The bottles in the cellar contained some evidence of their clandestine dealings and Augustus and the great-aunts had the funds and connexions to make them disappear."
Holmes patted my arm reassuringly. "You need no longer fear that the logical parts of your brain have weakened from disuse, Watson. I believe you may be very close to the truth of the matter; though I suspect the actual bottles may be more difficult to find than the modus operandi."
I felt myself colour at the praise, though something of his comments struck me as particularly noteworthy for reasons other than their generosity. It wasn't until we were seated in a cab with Mr. Eddington that I remembered the one other time Sherlock Holmes had ever so completely agreed with one of my theories.
As the homogeneous tide of cabs and omnibuses on Baker Street gave way to the ornamented landaus and barouches of the Park District, I leaned over to my friend and whispered a single word in his ear.
To my surprise, he laughed. It seems he had not forgotten "The Yellow Face," either.
Author's Note: Well done! You made it through the expositional chapter! If your brain isn't too tired, please leave me a review and make my day!
Enormous thanks to my beta readers, who shall be given love in the form of spinning, bone-crushing hugs.
Many thanks Cas, whose excellent eye spurred another round of edits. Regarding Australian wine, the story is set in the mid 90s, and Australian vintners were producing and exporting wine in the 40s. Australian wine would have been overlooked by all but the most adventurous epicures. I chose to highlight the variety of the Billings wine cellar by putting them in with the legendary '47 Bordeaux.