Over the course of a lifetime in this world, we gain one essential and valuable commodity: knowledge.
The mind is everything. It is a diary, a library, a gallery of our experiences; it is our only true possession.
– "The Book of Life"
Magazine article (anonymous), 1881
The old grand piano in the front parlour is a curious object. No one in my family ever knew how to play it, although my mother made a half-hearted attempt to learn a song or two when I was a tiny girl in hair-ribbons and ruffled skirts. I never had children of my own, and no nieces or nephews ever showed an interest in it. Its yellowed, cracked ivory keys lay untouched. The bench existed only as a crutch for conversation, and the closed lid merely functioned as a magnet for family memorabilia. The photographs are there still; frozen faces behind dusty glass lean precariously over the scuffed mahogany, but the conversations are gone. I am now the sole inhabitant of this sombre house, save for one other lonesome, reluctant tenant: the ghost of a man long dead, but not yet at rest.
The spirit of this man is well-known, but his intentions have been too long unknown. To those with fond memories of his character, this appellation may be regarded as a treasured relic from the past; to me, however, this ghostly aberration now tirelessly possesses too many of my thoughts. He was always a part of my grandfather's home, in name spoken and in influence felt, if never in person, at least not to my knowledge. His name was always known to me, although I never knew what lay behind it. And now, as my weary eyes scan the dusty parlour, he is omnipresent -- not just as a long-ago, far-away myth in my grandfather's books (and in too many books to follow), or as a black-and-white caricature on a distorted movie screen, or as a serio-comic figure inserted into any imaginable circumstance -- but as a palpable presence in my family's gently crumbling home. His voice, which I never heard in life, whispers in my inner ear. After the greater part of one hundred years, and as the 21st century looms before us, Mr. Holmes is speaking from beyond his modest Sussex grave.
Yes, it is the Sherlock Holmes to whom I refer, the tireless detective with cap, pipe and lens, forever roaming in search of answers to improbable questions. It sounds faintly amusing, I know. Please restrain your laughter if you are so inclined; I don't mind the bemusement (I've gotten it all my life) but I do mind a dismissive attitude. This is not a ghost story, although it does involve the presence of a dead man--several dead men, in fact. My anxiety has been augmented, I'm sure, by too many lonely nights watching manipulative and maniacal television shows, and perhaps I have inherited my grandfather's sense of the melodramatic, but I am prepared to defend my Holmesian haunting with a few words of explanation.
When I was a young lady, the spectre of Mr. Holmes often hovered around the edges of family conversations, although I could never be certain if this haunting was of a friendly or unfriendly nature. My older relatives spoke his name quietly and rarely, as though to conjure it loudly or often might rankle the man's spiritual residue. The leather-bound Holmesian adventures sat dutifully preserved on a high bookshelf, peering over the parlour, frosted with undisturbed dust. On occasion my father would refer to his father's "famous stories" with the slightest touch of pride and then swiftly change the subject, as though something in these tales (or their protagonist) struck him as distasteful. Many faded photographs of my departed grandfather rested on the silent grand piano--the pleasant, upstanding countenance of Dr. and Mrs. John H. Watson and family--but there were none of Sherlock Holmes. Not one. It was as if his image, like that of a vampire, could not appear on film.
His words, however, could appear on paper. Across from the piano, mounted on a mouldy, smoke-stained wall near the fireplace, hangs a modest letter in an incongruous art-deco frame. The year is not specified but the yellow-brown paper shows the age of nearly a century, and appears to owe its preservation to the sandwich of glass and paperboard holding it together. The letter's most remarkable feature is not its age, however, but the perfectly typewritten words covering less than half of the sheet, without a single error or misalignment to mar its stolid face.
"Woodbury", 5 May
The mild weather here on the Coast has been most enticing over the past weeks, and I have passed the majority of my hours enjoying the wonders of nature and have spent very little time indoors. However, I felt I could not let another day go by without writing to express my appreciation for your assistance in handling my late brother's estate. Your sacrifice of time and effort was quite 'beyond the call of duty', shall we say, and my grateful thanks are long overdue.
I hope that my request did not inconvenience you unduly, and will not in the future. Again you have my gratitude for your unquestioning co-operation.
signed S. H.
If I practice a touch of Holmesian logic, I find that lifting this curious piece of correspondence shows a nearly pristine square of wallpaper underneath, which suggests that the letter has not been moved from this spot since the day of its glorification on the wall many, many decades ago. And if I search the depths of my memory, I find that my first reaction to this curio was a childish disinterest; later, in my teen years, a curious incomprehension; and, as an adult, mystified disdain at the place of high esteem this unremarkable letter held in the parlour of the Watson home. This epistle was never discussed in my presence, and, of course, I never cared to ask. I could only surmise that Grandfather must have regarded Mr. Holmes with all the blind devotion and loyalty of Dandy Dinmont's dog. Now, I know that there is more -- much more -- behind this letter than an unfaded patch of wallpaper.
Curiously, my grandfather does not haunt these rooms. Any faded memory I have of my aged grandfather is nothing more than a creased face, a fluff of white hair, and a quiet, contemplative expression framed with thick spectacles, hidden behind a book in front of the fire. My more vivid memories are of the young man I never met: the narrator of incredible stories, participant in endless adventures, the observer of the consummate observer. This Dr. Watson was altogether different from the sepia photos and the shrivelled old man of my infancy; he was energetic, adventurous, and constantly bounding beside the great Mr. Holmes like a panting bloodhound at its master's foot. These two characters were virtually without families save for a briefly-mentioned aunt, wife or brother; one was an orphan, the other seemingly so. Life was essentially one foxhunt after another and everything else paled beside the thrill of the chase. Families, I suppose, could be terribly inconvenient when one is dashing around trying to pin down an evasive mystery.
Like Dr. Watson, I don't have much to say about my family, and these few words will suffice. My memories of this house are not as warm as I wish they could be, but I have no tragic tales to tell and no major complaints to make. My feelings of vague disconnection from all of my family members may be just as much my fault as theirs. Further details of my life are insignificant; I will just say that I am no longer a young woman, and the years are shorter than they once were. I make no claim to be a writer of Grandfather's stature and I certainly don't plan to follow in his footsteps, since I have nothing to gain from stepping into the spotlight; I simply want to relieve my conscience by sharing what I know about the man haunting my house, this fabled, fantastic detective whom everyone knows -- or rather, believes that they know.
Well, as it turns out, I now know more about him than anyone else alive. That distant figure is no longer distant – it breathes down my neck when I sit in the parlour, staring aimlessly across the mute piano. In my mind, the greatest mystery surrounding Mr. Sherlock Holmes was always Mr. Sherlock Holmes; now, the solution gnaws at my insides. I cannot rest comfortably with this solution locked in my heart.
It is possible that, by committing this act of writing, I have more of my grandfather in me than I thought. Perhaps solving a mystery is not enough--maybe one must share the experience with others to make the solution meaningful. Shared experience has a way of bringing solace to the suffering, or so I am led to understand. I desperately hope that this is true.
In 1994 my father passed away and left to me the rambling home of my childhood, which was filled to the brim with well-worn furniture, fine antique furnishings, and dust of Edwardian origin. Father's final request was that I should also receive ownership of his father's remaining personal possessions, and his testament sternly indicated that I was to keep all of these items in the family, with no exceptions. With my head still throbbing from my flight from New York across the too-wide Atlantic, I was duly provided with keys to these mysterious treasures, led up the third staircase, and presented with two large steamer trunks hidden away in the web-laced corners of the attic.
Yes, there they sat; authentic antique trunks, filled with unknown relics, colourless from layers of dust. I could not contain a burst of nervous laughter at the banality of my situation. Was I now the owner of untold journals, unpublished chronicles, unspoken stories from the hand of Dr. Watson? I am not a person who takes things lightly, but the responsibility was overwhelming, and washed my heart with anxiety. My father attached great importance and value to these trunks...could they contain some long-secret, revelatory truth? Or could this be a practical joke?
Either way, the joke was on me. It became clearly evident, as I peered over the musty, crumbling papers, that my grandfather's venerable trunks appeared to include nothing of any interest whatsoever, at least not to anyone with any sense. Sentimental value, I supposed, if you consider old medical books, dead patient's records, and crusty legal documents to be precious and heart-warming. I was unsure whether to feel relief or disappointment; I felt only a faint nausea swimming through my nerves, perhaps the direct result of jet lag. I left the trunks undisturbed in their resting place, and removed nothing but my empty heart from the deserted house.
When the dust of the funeral had settled and my long summer vacation rolled around again, I decided to spend some time facing the mess left behind; I took yet another stifling flight over the ocean and entrenched myself for two weeks in the old house. The once peaceful neighbourhood was now smack in the middle of an overgrown, swarming London suburb, and the three ancient trees in the back garden were the only ones remaining in the entire street, like a Victorian oasis. It was still a calm, quaint place, good for a contemplative holiday, but with little practical use. Sitting in a creaking armchair, watching the traffic stream past the parlour's bow windows, I could not help thinking of the structure as nothing but a potential real estate deal, and the dilapidated state of the walls, and of my bank account, tended to encourage this view. I was also not enamoured with the frayed, faded furniture and the garish bric-a-brac tucked away into every available space, resembling a tribute to Antiques Roadshow. I was sure that many of these furnishings had once belonged to my grandfather but it was difficult to tell, since my late mother had a great weakness for collecting motley antiques and had filled every horizontal space with them. I decided to damn my father's wishes and sell off most of the pieces, and hoped, by going through Dr. Watson's ancient papers, that I might find records or receipts for the old items so that I would know which things had belonged to my grandparents. Provenance is very important, as I'm sure you know.
The shadowed, groaning top staircase brought me to the attic once again. I pushed open a massive trunk lid, set a bright light over it, and sifted through its contents. I knew that a receipt was capable of finding its way into any possible space, and I refused to miss a single one; I looked over every paper, and at each page of every notebook. The huge mass of papers may have hampered others--a filing system was completely lacking--but I had nothing else on my plate or my mind, and I dug in with no discouragement. After almost a week of this, unfortunately, there was nothing to report except the pitiable state of my aching neck.
At the end of another long, muggy afternoon I lifted out a stack of medical journals, apparently written by my grandfather to keep track of his patients' illnesses. Some of the notebooks were of a slightly different size and colour, and I fished one out of the stack for inspection. It took several seconds for the title to register in my head:
Bee-Farming Diary, 1929.
I stared, perplexed, at the faded ink, and the words buzzed around in my mind:
My eyes outlined each letter of the words, blinking in confusion. My grandfather never kept bees--did he?
Bee-keeping, bee-keeping, bee-keeping...
The swarming words threatened to blot out every other thought in my head. I rubbed and twisted my aching neck, turned over the dusty cover and peered at the unfamiliar, barely discernible writing.
The first few pages of the diary methodically described the writer's current beehives, detailed which of his hives produced the greatest honey yields during the previous year, and outlined his plans for implementing experiments with the other hives. On the fourth page he began weekly reports, starting with the first Sunday in January, 1929. His esoteric statements made little sense; his shaky letters and lack of punctuation made comprehension difficult, and his dull, dry tone was enough to put a fog over my eyes. Even past the point where my brain gave up interest my eyes continued to scan the scrawling text, until, in the middle of the fifth page, the words abruptly changed focus:
As I have previously communicated, this is the diary that I have left for you to recover in the event of my death. It is imperative that my words never travel past these pages or beyond your eyes. Moreover, it is for you to determine whether or not you will ever read any of the words that follow. I make no request to you either way--it is completely your decision. Even as I write this, I still question the wisdom or necessity of relating these incidents in any form, even to you. The events that I will describe here are like no other case or affair which you have ever heard or experienced, and you should draw no comparison between this and my later, more important work. Understand that you are completely uninvolved in these events, since they occurred in my youth, some years before we first met. The descriptions of these incidents have never existed in any form other than deep in my memory, which is where I desired them to remain--and yet, in my old age, I feel compelled to record them in their entirety. I also believe that you should consider the effect that this diary will have on your opinion of me. I shall bear no grudge if, after you read it, you wish to disavow our friendship and do no further work to promote my name. I would not make this statement unless I truly believed that this may be your reaction. If you wish to spare yourself this dilemma, you must stop reading these words immediately, and completely destroy these pages.
I lifted the page to turn it over, but it trembled between my fingers. I stared at the page and breathed slowly, trying to focus my scattered mind. This bee-keeper...bee-keeper...was...
A long-forgotten fact struggled to come up for air, and with a great gasp and a shake of the head, the memory finally surfaced. In his later years, after Mr. Holmes retired from his detective practice, he had kept bees on a small farm somewhere in Sussex. This writing must be Holmes's own hand, even a facsimile of which I had never seen or known of.
I read the passage again, slowly. The words were the same but their depth now frightened me, as if I were standing and looking over the edge of the Grand Canyon. I read, and re-read, the imposing sentence at the bottom of the dry, yellowed paper:
...you must stop reading these words immediately, and completely destroy these pages.
I shook my head, as if for an invisible audience. These words were not directed to me; they must have been written for my grandfather. There is no reason why I should not read this, I told myself.
But it took many moments for my hand to finally, carefully turn over the paper, and my uneasy eyes moved slowly down the next page:
I don't much doubt that you will continue to read, for I know you well enough to know the inquisitiveness of your mind. I also know, from all of our previous experiences, that you are completely trustworthy and will never reveal that which I implore you to keep to yourself--although, in past years, a few of your published accounts did show a certain lack of judgement, considering the unimportance and poor quality of the casework itself. Nevertheless, my friend, I bear no ill will. If you ever realised the importance of complete silence in any matter, you must understand how I feel about the words contained in these pages. If, indeed, you have made the decision to continue, and you ingest all of what I lay down before you, I have no doubt that it will remain a personal confidence between us. It is a rather ironic concept, I must say. Since I am now dead, it would be difficult for you to discuss it with me. You were always full of questions--so many questions. Many of your questions were returned with only silence from me, weren't they? But I digress. As you would if I were here before your face, you must swear, on my soul, that you will never divulge a word of this to anyone, for any reason. You take on the responsibility of not only reading this narrative, but also ensuring that no one else does. I write the following words only in the belief that I may rely on you wholeheartedly.
At this moment I felt as if ghostly eyes were staring at me, waiting for me to firmly close the notebook, start a hearty fire in the fireplace, and watch as the torn papers burned to a crisp, one by one.
I will try to explain, briefly, why I didn't. The stirrings of shame in my chest were quickly displaced by my intense desire to explore dark, forbidden territory; my noble sense of discretion was consumed with burning curiousity. As I sat transfixed, nervously turning the fragile pages, I could not imagine that one day, his words would travel beyond those pages, live and grow inside my brain, and become too precarious to remain confined.
The pages turned, the daylight faded, and the attic shadows darkened.
I have to admit, objectivity about Mr. Holmes is difficult for me, and I'm not really sure how to direct this exposition. Perhaps the reader is very familiar with the pervasive and potent spirit of Sherlock Holmes, having ingested every consecrated word of Dr. Watson's published accounts--or perhaps only a comical figure with a Calabash pipe and deerstalker cap comes to mind. I cannot recall reading my grandfather's stories for the first time; they have simply always been there, like the Bible. As a schoolgirl I had felt as obligated to read about Mr. Holmes as to read about the other miracle worker, and just as mystified. Every time I thumb through the chapters and verses of Dr. Watson's canon, I still hear my own endless questions interwoven with the text, all of which can be condensed into one: Was this improbable, enigmatic Mr. Holmes a real human being?
I did not doubt his existence--I questioned his completeness. I wondered, with the curiosity and innocence of youth, how my grandfather could write so many thousands words about a man and reveal very little about him.
At the risk of offending Dr. Watson's ardent followers I must present my suspicion that my grandfather was not innocent of the crime of enhancing his master and his adventures. No one would argue against the possibility of some exaggerations of Mr. Holmes's accomplishments (especially since Holmes himself said as much) and the questionable accuracy of some of Dr. Watson's reports do little to solidify his credibility. There are many examples, but the most obvious would be the account of Dr. Watson's war injury. When he first met Holmes the Jerzail bullet painfully affected my grandfather's shoulder; in later stories, it had mysteriously transferred to his aching leg. Which was it: the shoulder, the leg, or perhaps both? Since I was never a witness to the effect of this curious wound, my educated guess is this: a shoulder wound did not influence the plot of an adventure as much as a leg injury did.
Let me clarify: I don't accuse my grandfather of deliberately writing falsehoods, merely of using selective memory for the convenience of a good story. Memories are curious and elusive things, and they may easily become misplaced.
I realise, of course, that it was difficult for Dr. John Watson to be as precise as his noble subject; he was an admirer, not a disciple. To my grandfather's credit, his focus was not on every slightest detail, but on the drama within the grand proscenium. I also realise that it was impossible for my grandfather to reveal what he did not know--and I am not referring to cases involving famous clients who requested anonymity, or to accounts of top-secret government affairs. Dr. Watson once described Holmes as having astounding intellectual capacities, but with great selectivity--"gaps and holes"--in his knowledge. Looking back at his tales, I see a picture of a man with great gaps and holes in his life. Again, my old unanswered questions return: Where was Holmes from? Who were his parents? Why was he apparently estranged from them and the rest of his family (with the exception of his equally improbable brother, Mycroft)? Did he ever in his life become involved with a woman? Was it truly his choice to avoid marriage, or was there some negative quality that signalled women to avoid getting close to him?
I will not continue with these questions because I do not have all of the answers, and never will. The only one who would, of course, is Holmes himself, and the only part of him that remains is the written word--the words of Dr. Watson, words from many would-be Watsons, words from Holmes himself--and who is to pronounce each word true or false?
So much time has passed since the stories were first written and read that the personage of Sherlock Holmes has become a cloudy image, like an ageing Impressionist painting in a shadowed passageway. Sometimes, in quiet moments in this dark, placid house, an insistent image haunts my mind: a human figure obscured beneath carefully scattered brush-strokes; and the longer one stares at it, the more it emerges from the murky background, the blurred face gradually coming to the fore, with sharper edges...rougher textures...darker colours...deeper wrinkles...lips drawn tightly from secrets left unwhispered...
It has been too many years since I began to see these disturbing images. The passage of time has only convinced me that secrets should never remain hidden, where they grow darker with each year, but should be brought out from the shadows and into the light. I am not simply driven by an impulse that I can no longer suppress; I have decided that there is no need for concealment of any kind, for any reason. Repression causes pain, physically and mentally, especially for those who carry a lifetime's worth on their back. In this sense I feel deeply for the ghostly soul trapped for so long under the roof of the Watson home.
Although I feel strongly about my decision to make his memoir available to the public, it has been difficult to carry this decision out. I do not reveal these writings casually or crassly. My fingers and my conscience often conflict as I type Holmes's words on my computer keyboard, and my eyes question the propriety of his intimate narrative darkening the glowing white screen. It is not just the act of revealing his chronicle against his will that disturbs me; the significance of these revelations will eventually become disturbingly apparent, like a phantom slowly materialising in a shadowed room, and revealing its face in a slash of moonlight. Its face will not express pain, however, but relief; so will mine, when all is said and done.
In deciphering and transcribing Holmes's writing I have had to confront several difficult elements, including erratic punctuation, misspellings from haste or cloudiness of mind, unreadable words due to the shakiness of old age, and blocks of writing unbroken by indentations. I have added commas, quotations, and created paragraphs for ease of reading, but I have not changed a single word or letter if I had any doubt of Holmes's meaning and intent. If clarification is needed, it will be indicated in brief footnotes beneath the text, which I hope the reader will not find too awkward. I will try to remain as unobtrusive as possible--unlike Dr. Watson, I am not an observer, only a messenger.(1)
(1) The only breaks in Holmes's writing were the date headings, so that his narrative appeared as a series of weekly reports over the course of the year. I have also deleted his bee-farming statements.
My attempts at research could reveal only a few facts about Mr. Holmes's later years, which were even more reclusive than his active years as a private detective. I was perplexed by samples of his previous writings; most of them were scholarly essays related to deduction and the art of detection, with two notable exceptions in his mature years: Chaldean Roots in the Ancient Cornish Language, a venture into obscure etymology, and Polyphonic Motets of Lassus, a study of characteristics found in sacred vocal music of the 16th century. His greatest pride seems to have been his self-declared "magnum opus", Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, with Some Observations upon the Segregation of the Queen, a volume privately published in 1912, but which seems to have disappeared from the family library.
I found these tomes to be plodding, pedantic and almost impossible to read. Holmes found no fascination in personal reflection, mystic possibilities, or romantic atmosphere; he was amazed with analysis, entranced by intricacy, and in love with logic. My brief foray into his past writings makes his secret journal of 1929 even more disturbing by its contrast.
In 1902 Holmes was offered a knighthood from King Edward VII, which he politely refused for reasons known only to himself, and late in the following year, near the age of fifty, he retired to a small home in Sussex on the South Downs with a view of the English Channel, a piece of land which no longer exists, due to the unceasing voracity of the sea. In 1929, he would have been about seventy-four years of age. His companions were his books, his housekeeper, and his bees.
The diary continues:
As you know, in recent years my health has been poor, and I have preferred to be seen by no one save for my housekeeper, who encourages me to take the occasional soup and tea for subsistence. I did not wish to share the details of my illness with even you, my friend, because I have always felt it is pointless to burden others with physical calamity when the illness itself is completely unaffected by sympathy directed toward its victim. I have also found that to display one's distress in front of friends and family tends to cause suffering on their part, which is akin to sadism and, therefore, also completely senseless.
I know that you do not share these feelings, and I also know, whatever your protestations may be, that you have been hurt and confused by my self-imposed isolation. Let me assure you that any visitor to my humble home would be bored beyond belief, as I spend most of my time walking, reading or sleeping, and as time passes I am able to do less of the former and more of the latter. You may cease to hope for the sight of my face in your doorway, for my travelling days are long over; in any case, I refuse to ever again set foot in London as a dejected witness to yet another stately, graceful old building reduced to a barren lot--or worse, replaced by a mammoth, insipid hotel.
Your letters are entirely charming as always and I regret that they lie unanswered. It is not in my nature to write social correspondence, as you know, and I never could see the necessity in having a telephone installed in this humble place. Even if a telephone were present it would be quite useless, as I am almost completely unable to speak. The last time I saw a physician, some months ago, he was convinced that I was not only afflicted with rheumatism but also with some virulent disease of the throat, and he was rather excited about new medical treatments that could have some beneficial effect, including the removal of my larynx. The prospect of this procedure was not one to disturb me since my voice now has little practical use, but I was less enthusiastic about some of the other suggested schemes. Therefore I have been ignoring my physician as well as the rest of the world, although the nurse who visits me occasionally is impossible to avoid, as she is quite persistent about taking my vital signs to ensure that they still exist. The rheumatism is not a great worry because it is easily curbed; if I find it to be increasingly bothersome I make a point to take a few extra stings from some helpful bees, which produces a remarkable improvement. It is a pity that I was not aware of this effect at the time I was composing my Practical Handbook--perhaps in future I may undertake further research into this subject.
My current housekeeper has two redeeming qualities: she can produce a reasonably appealing soup for each day of the week, and, being of a rather antagonistic temperament, she maintains few friendships. This is an advantage in my position, even though few of my previous enemies are still alive to impose upon me. She may lack the mother-hen instinct which Martha possessed but at least she does keep me from self-imposed starvation.(2) Even so, if you were present you would find it hard to believe that I partake of any food whatsoever. My weakness is of no great concern to me, for when physical powers decline the mental faculties gain more prominence. This does result, however, in my current problem: how shall I exercise this abundant mental faculty?
(2) Rumour has it that Martha was more than just a housekeeper to Holmes, but this story is unsubstantiated.
As I have previously remarked--and you may recall--the mind consists of hundreds, perhaps thousands of tiny compartments, each containing information which we collect throughout our lives. Since this space is finite, one must always make choices about what to keep and what to discard. I am fortunate to have the ability to purge experience and knowledge that I have deemed impractical to retain; however, the imminence of one's demise tends to confuse one's thoughts into an annoying disorder. The key to the attic has been forced into my hand, releasing a plague of abstractions that I consider to be a waste of good thinking space! It seems likely that the only way to put them into order is to record them in ink, and therefore, you hold the feeble result in your hands.
You have often implored me to produce my memoirs, but when one has a biographer of your calibre there is really no need for such a document. I have previously written of two or three interesting problems that came my way since my retirement; I feel that there is nothing more of any interest in this area since the start of the Great War,(3) and my prior cases, whether documented or not, no longer contain any fascination for me--not to insult your craftsmanship in describing them--but, in my eyes, they are rather like old crossword puzzles. In recent weeks my wandering thoughts have stubbornly centred on matters of my youth, which, because of its distance in time, has become as intriguing and obscure as anything I have encountered over the course of my life. I am not a student of Dr. Freud, but from the little that I have absorbed it seems that the hidden memories of the human mind are not dissimilar to old kegs of potent gunpowder in a forgotten storehouse. These memories are too volatile to be dragged and jerked from their hiding place; they must be coaxed forward with care and sincere aspiration.
(3) Holmes acted as a spy for the British government from 1912-1914 (His Last Bow).
I believe--or hope--that by bringing these memories to paper they will cease to haunt the crowded corridors of my mind. My talents do not include your faculty for atmosphere, sentiment or romance, and as I lay my thoughts down I will fall far short of those descriptive and dramatic scenarios which you sketched so well, so many times. I will do my best; however, keep in mind that the purpose of this narrative is not to tell a clever, convoluted story, seeped in flowery detail, but simply to have it told.