The Confessions of the Master
As written by John H. Watson, M.D.
(with consideration by Andrea Malcolm)

To whom it may concern:
As I write this in what will no doubt be the final chapter in my life, I do so to convey something that I cannot take to my grave. I have no idea if this text shall ever be read, and perhaps it would be just as better if it were not. But in any account, I must put into words the story that until now the public has not heard. It is not so much for my own sake as it is for the sake of the late Sherlock Holmes. He endured much in his life, the least of these immense public pressure to be-at times-something that he was not. I knew him better than any person. And so it is that I put my pen to paper in order to finally lay to rest a dear soul, and to show the truth of the man, and not just the master.

Chapter One

The year 1891, in retrospect, was one of the happiest, yet saddest years of my life. Never had I experienced such joy and such tragedy all in the space of a few months. And what is more, this year seemed to capitulate a dark cloud on not only myself and family, but indeed, London itself. But that shall all be explained in time. In order to fully understand the events that took place that faithful year and henceforth, it is necessary to understand the beginning of it all- that is, the day my life took an unexpected turn.

It was late February as I recall, a brisk grey day when one desires nothing more than to stay at home in front of a roaring fire, sipping a hot beverage and perhaps reading a good book. But although I remember it well, I am sure that I took no notice of all that. It was right after dinner than I desired to close up my practice for the day and to pay an unannounced visit on my old lodgings at Baker Street, and most especially on my old friend- Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

"Ah, Doctor," the landlady, Mrs. Hudson greeted me as she opened the door. "A welcome surprise."

"Mrs. Hudson!" I cried with some emotion, as it was that not only was I so pleased to see her after many months, but also do in part to my news. "You are looking as lovely as ever!" I kissed her upon her forehead and shot upstairs without bothering to ask if my friend was at home.

"Dr. Watson!" I heard her explain behind me, giggling like a schoolgirl.

Throwing open the door to the sitting room, I immediately observed Holmes sitting in his customary wicker armchair by the fire, black clay pipe hanging from his angular jaw, grey eyes shiny and dilated, staring at something that only he could see. At first I thought that he must have just taken a shot of cocaine, but as I didn't see his syringe or any bottles laying about, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. It was, after all, quite a familiar look to see upon him drug-induced or not, and while usually I would leave him alone whilst in such a state, that day I did nothing of the kind.

"Holmes!" said I, closing the door behind me. "I have to tell you something!"

For several seconds, as was custom, he continued with whatever curious puzzle was wracking his great brain, but at last he returned to the present and his eyes flashed toward me. "Well, if it isn't my old colleague, the esteemed Doctor Watson. How are you, my dear fellow?"

"I'm very well indeed." I could hardly keep from bursting out with my news. "And I have to..."

"Pray have a seat," interrupted Holmes, indicating to my old armchair with his pipe.

"Thank you. And now, I must tell you something..."

"Ah, yes. Your first child is no doubt most exciting news, indeed. My hardy congratulations to both you and Mrs. Watson, my friend." He sprang from his chair like a hound upon his pray and wrung my hand heartedly.

I have to admit, I was utterly struck speechless. Now, no doubt, dear reader, you are aware that Sherlock Holmes and I were quite intimate before the occasion of my marriage, and I was witness to his brilliance on many an occasion. I have seem him deduce the most exact details about a man's life from a homely felt hat[1] or a perfectly common bulbous-headed walking stick[2], or even many a person in this very room, but for the life of me, I could not see how he could have guessed this.

A noise escaped from the back of my throat which was quite similar to that of a bullfrog, and I am sure that had I not already been sitting, I would have felt quite weak in the knees. "Indeed you must be more than human, Holmes. Psychic, or something."

From him came a loud burst of a laugh. "Tut, tut, my dear fellow. I would have thought you, of all men, should not believe me to be anything of the sort. It is all quite simple, I assure you."

"With you, Holmes, it is always inexorably quite simple. But this time you have gone too far. Somehow," I waved my finger at him for emphasis. "Somehow, this time, you have been tipped off. I don't know how, but there is no way you could have known about my wife being pregnant."
"I assure you Watson, that nothing of the sort occurred. If you would be so kind as to help yourself to my humidor. I have some delightful Havanas that I'm sure you would enjoy. And then I shall explain."

Curious as all-get out, I settled into the chair and lit my cigar. I couldn't possibly foresee how he would get this out, but I had to hear what he would say.

Holmes, as was his habit to pressure one's nerve's to the very end, let a second pipe and took a few puffs. Finding it satisfactory, he spun to face me, whippish grin upon his face. "My dear doctor," said he. "I quite suspected your news from the very instant you appeared rapping at my chamber door[3]."

"But how"- I began, but he held up his hand.

"The time, Watson, the time."

"Why it's- a quarter after one."

"No, no, no. I knew from the time when you walked in. You see, Watson, it was exactly ten minutes after one when lest you arrived. I made sure to note that. Now, taking in the other factors, the fact that it is an eight minute carriage ride (barring excess traffic) from your office to Baker Street and of course that you always take your dinner from 12 to exactly 1o'clock-I concluded that your wife came to see you at your consulting room for your luncheon break. While there, she no doubt told you of her impending condition. And after you ate, you immediately sought me out to hear of your news-which, of course, I am honoured that you would think to rush here."

"But...but..." I tried to connect it all in my mind, but I must admit, I could not.

"But how did you know that my wife had been to see me at all? I don't see the connection."

"You don't? Oh, come, come, Watson. You are a doctor after all. On the day that she would have become certain of this, do you think that she would wait for you to come home in the evening? And of course, you would have already been gone in the morning. No, no, she would come to see you at your office. Especially because this is your first. Excitement, I should think. But she, as I know, a lady of great class, she should not want to disturb you while you are with patients. Hence, your dinner time."

"Okay," said I. "I'll grant you that it makes sense. You knew the first person I should wish to tell would be my very dear friend, and that I should come as soon as Mrs. Watson and I had our dinner. I'll even grant you that you could easily tell that the news I had was exciting from my demeanour. But I still can't see..."

"Perfume," Holmes replied, nonchalantly.

"You smell of Mrs. Watson's perfume, my dear chap." His eyes lighted upon me, enjoying nothing more than to explain the answer to some cryptic mystery. "Perfume can only linger so long on a man's jacket, Watson, lest the smell of your cigar or cigarette smoke cover it up. I knew from the fact that I could smell it upon you that you must have been embraced by your dear wife some time very recently, sometime after you had smoked last. From there it was a simple deduction that you saw your wife at your luncheon time. And because you normally do not have dinner together, I knew it must be a special reason. And what other special reason does a wife seek out her husband at his business in the middle of the afternoon? She told you the wonderful news, you embraced her in a rapt of joy, no doubt talked about the event all through dinner, clutched her one final time, insuring her perfume upon your jacket, and hence, you hailed a cab to come just as fast as you could. And here you are."

"Here I am indeed!" I said, laughing. "My dear Holmes, I must say, that even after all these years intimacy between us, you have not ceased to astound me. I could not see how you would have figured out such a thing."

"Things without all remedy should be without regard[4], doctor. But indeed it was not such a puzzle as it may seem. And I shall admit, only to you, Watson, only to you, that while I was quite confident of my remedy, I was not..." he smiled rapidly, hardly noticeable at all, "completely sure."

"Ha!" I exclaimed. "Holmes, you sly old devil!"

He gave me quite a clap on the shoulder. "And now, Watson, we must have a bit of celebration. Mrs. Hudson!" He cried, quite ringing my ears. My old landlady appeared, reliable as ever, despite my friend's somewhat brutish manners. "We must have some of that most excellent champagne that you've been squirreling away, madam. There must be a glass to celebrate the good doctor's impending arrival."

"Arrival?" Asked Mrs. Hudson. "What arrival?"

"My wife and I are expecting a child, Mrs. Hudson." said I, quite uncontrollably puffed up with pride.

She drew in a breath and clapped her hands together. "Are you really? Oh, that is wonderful news, Dr. Watson! Wonderful, indeed! I'm so happy for you!"

"Thank you, my dear lady, thank you."

"Mrs. Hudson..."Holmes broke in. "The champagne?"

"Ohh..."she fussed with a frown. "At least you did well for yourself, doctor. You won't ever see a wife or children from this one here. I just don't know what it is about some men. They act so odd when the get within a yard of a lady. Can't even have a relationship."

I had to try very hard right then not to explode with laughter. The very thought of Sherlock Holmes in a marriage with little Holmeses about him seemed absolutely absurd! Why that was I wasn't certain. Oh, I will admit part of it stemmed from the fact that on more than one occasion Holmes made such a comment as to his disdain for the female sex as a whole, but I never really put a thought to it. Until that very moment. When Holmes made the queerest comment I ever heard him utter, albeit under his breath.

"And you never shall find me in such a relationship. Not with any

-I recall this memory to mind as the beginning of this tale as it was so very important in not only my life, but also that of Holmes. It was only months after this that Professor Moriarty made his sinister appearance and eventually capitulated to what I thought to be my friend's death at the Reichenbach Falls. And indeed I must admit that the memory of standing there at the devilish place, holding his words in my hand, not hardly realizing that his genius, his beauty should be gone forever was something that haunts me to this day. And worse that this occurred because no one could stop it. Not even his closest confidant and friend-myself. I shall not again retell the events that led up to my friend's demise as they are already accurately recorded. But I must convey what did occur in the winter of the year 1894[5], three and a half years after Sherlock Holmes death. And at a time in my life that I scarcely denoted the difference in death and life myself.-

Chapter two

Sherlock Holmes was forced to his death at the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland in the beauty of late Spring. I shall never forget the horrid contrast of the place. The soft breeze, the pungent flowers, the Alps still dripping with ice and snow. All God's beauty seemed dropped from Heaven right on that exact spot, like some prevailing Eden. But the falls barely could conjure up the necessary adjectives for that cold, demonic place. Indeed the mere sight of it filled me with the deepest dread and revulsion. Perhaps this was a premonition on my part. But call it what you would, it was at this place and time that catalyst was created, and nearly all that I cared about in this world was taken from me.

You may recall, dear reader, that I recorded the events of Sherlock Holmes return in a story that was called "The Empty House." I regret that most of what I put into words there was false. It was necessary at that time for the public to believe that Holmes' return was, while remarkable, quite receptive on my part. At least, in my shame, that it is what I wished them to believe. That Holmes returned, explained everything, and together we rounded up the remainder of Moriarty's gang-the Colonel Sebastian Moran. The man responsible for the death of Ronald Adair and the attempted death of Sherlock Holmes. Indeed, many months later, it was in fact my friend who encouraged this account. Even now, many years later, I still find that I ashamed at how I behaved that faithful day, yet I feel compelled to, at last, tell just how it really happened.

The fact remains that indeed I was some what enamoured by the death of young Ronald Adair. In my new position of acting police surgeon, I saw much death in those few years. I must admit that this was not a position I was particularly happy in, but do to my growing family, I found it necessary. My first child was born in October of 1891, some five months after Sherlock Holmes' death. And now, as it was September of 1894, my darling wife, Mary was expecting our second child. Therefore, I accepted the position and performed it to the best of my ability, always in the mindset of it being necessary to all that I had. A beautiful and loving wife, a darling son and soon, a second blessing. Sadly, as when most mortals start to feel they are on top of the world, it is inevitable that it come crashing back down.

To this day, I still dream of that night. Some of what happened has faded from memory, thankfully, but most of it is still as fresh as a wet painting. I was just finishing up at my consulting room some time in the evening of September the 30th, when a telegram boy come in,

"For you, sir," he said, handing me an envelope. There was a look upon his dirty, sun-painted face, that suggested to me he knew the contents were not going to be pleasant.

I handed him a tip, and immediately recognized the handwriting as that of out house maid, Ivy:

-Dear sir,- it read

-I would ask that you come home immediately. The lady of the house has gone into her condition, and is not well. Please hurry.-

"Oh, God," I said. I remember very distinctly the feeling of my heart beating against my rib cage. But there was no time to linger. Not even for pain. As my assistant was already gone for the day, I ran out without even bothering to bolt the door. It was the only time I would ever do such a thing.

Although I immediately came upon a hansom and commissioned it to my home address, I think now that I could have gotten there quicker upon my own steam. Every echo of the horse's hooves pounding against the cobblestone pounded against my own chest. I was gripping the message so tightly in my hand that later as I threw it into the fire, I noticed the distinctive imprint of finger marks.
The cabbie did make rather good time. The promise of half a guinea was sufficient in securing that. But still, I sat muttering under my breath the entire time. "Hurry....hurry...God, Mary, hang on. You must hang on."

A fellow doctor by the name of Joseph Blakely, who had a thriving practice on Harley Street was there when I arrived. I recognized his carriage as it was one of the most fashionable in all of London. The sight of it relieved me momentarily, for if there was any other doctor I wanted to attend to Mary, than Blakely was the man. His skill was quite exceptional.

I threw open the door quite ignoring Ivy altogether, not even bothering to remove my coat. I hadn't even bothered to take my hat, gloves or stick with me. "Sir, sir, you shouldn't go in there," I heard her call, but propriety was the furthest thing from my mind.

Just as I skidded to a halt in front of our bedroom, Blakely emerged. He was a man in his fifties, thick silver sideburns and a full head of silver hair. His eyes had constantly a glimmer of the deepest intelligence, but also friendliness in the light amber-brown. He dressed immaculately, quite natty in his appearance, and indeed there was only one man I ever knew who cared more about his appearance. But I knew, I knew from the instant that the door was opened and my eyes fell upon him, that the news was not what I was praying for.

"Blakely," said I. "How is she?"
"Watson, I think that you had better sit." He indicated toward my private study just left of our chamber.

"Damnit, man, I don't want to sit! Tell me what is happening!"

He didn't have to say it with words. They way he reached out to lay his hand on my arm said it all. "Have it your way, then. Your child is dead, I am afraid. Stillborn."

I closed my eyes momentarily. I could hardly stand to see him in front of me, pity in his usually jovial expression. "And..." I whispered, knowing there was more.

"And," he said. "I fear that the strain is too much for Mary. I shouldn't think she'll live through the night."

I must have staggered backward because the next thing I knew Blakely was gripping me under the arms, apparently thinking I was on the point of fainting. "Sit, please my friend, you must sit down. Maid!"- he called downstairs. "Brandy at once!"

"No, no," said I. "I need no such thing. Blakely, why did someone, you, the midwife, anyone not call for me sooner?"
"It just happened so rapidly, I am afraid." He said. "The midwife was called some time just after dinner. According to her, all was well until just over an hour ago when I arrived. Your wife had begun to haemorrhage, and the baby had still not arrived."

"Why didn't you send for me ?" I shouted. I felt quite as I had never had before. I had thought that Dr. Joseph Blakely was a friend, a friend who would not let my wife and baby die without my at least being present. "I am a doctor, for God's sake!"

"John," he said, gripping my arm gently. "There was nothing you could have done that I could not. In fact, it was better that you were not here. Do you think you could have acted rationally to save Mary and the baby? Tell me that your mind would have been clear. You know you cannot!"

Indeed I did know that Blakely was right. My mind was not even working clearly now, after the fact. All I could think on was that my baby was dead, and soon my Mary would be as well. Three people were now dead, three people that I might have saved but could not. Or had not.

"May I see Mary?" It was not a question. It was an order.

He was reluctant at first, but knew there was no point in denying me. He gave a brief nod of his large silver head, and held the door open. "She is very weak," he said in a soft voice. "You must be gentle. And I should think not say anything about...the inevitable."

"As if I would."

Pushing past Blakely, I silently walked into our room. It was unfathomable to think that this very room had brought me so much happiness-the love of my wife, of course, but also the birth of my son, the intimate holdings of all I kept secret, and now it was much like the falls of Reichenbach-I saw in it nothing but death and pain.

The midwife, a woman I did not recognize was sitting on a velvet armchair in the far, slightly darkened corner of my chamber. She was wrapping something in a white cotton blanket that resembled a miniature mummy. I was afraid that I knew what it was. My eyes shut instinctively for a second or two, my mind flooded with images I wished only to purge. Yet still, I could not put my child into the ground without ever even having looked upon it.

"No," I said. "I'll take...'" I realized then that I didn't even know if it was a boy or a girl. "I'll take the child."

The woman handed me the pitiful small bundle, and then left the room. I was very glad she did, for I felt then I might not be able to hold back my grief. The child was female, and so astoundingly small. I sat where the midwife had, just holding her in one arm, not wanting to look at her, but not being able to turn away. She was about the length of the tip of my finger to my wrist only, perhaps 20 centimetres and covered in a nearly translucent powdery skin that allowed me to see every blue and green jagged vein. Her eyes were closed, of course, but she had the most delicate eyelashes, long and feathery. There was even hair, a surprising lot of it, thick tendrils of blond curls that reminded me of her mother. Evers so gently, I ran my forefinger across her brow. It was like velvet. Although cold and hard velvet.

"Isn't she beautiful, John?"

I looked up to see Mary awake, or at least partly. Her eyes were open, two opaque holes of blue, but one needn't be a medical man to see that she was very gravely ill. "Mary," I said, moving swiftly to the bed. "Mary, how are you, my darling?"

"I shouldn't think that we'll go dancing any time soon."

I smiled. I loved her gentle sense of humour even in the most sombre of times. Still holding the baby in one hand, I reached out with my other to hold her. "You are so brave, darling, so brave. I should have...I should have been..."

"Oh, John, it only matters that you are here now. And that you got to see your daughter at least once. I'm only sorry that you'll never get to see the beautiful woman that she would have become."

I distinctly remember her using the word 'you'll' rather than 'we'll'. I wanted to correct her, reprimand her, even shout at her for daring to suggest that she wouldn't be here. But how could I after all?

"Vera," Mary whispered.


Her lips formed the slightest of smiles. "Vera. That is what I would have called her. Isn't that a lovely name?"

Somehow, I managed a nod. "It is indeed." Good Lord, I couldn't break down now. Not in front of my wife. Not like this. I turned away from her briefly, hardly being able to take the dark shadows under her beautiful eyes, the pallor of her face, the limp dampness of her hand against mine.

She spoke only once more, just a few moments after this, squeezing my hand with a last concentrated effort of strength. "John," she whispered. "Promise me."

"Anything, Mary."

"You must promise. Josh. You must promise to always be there."
This was the first time I had thought of my son since getting that damned telegram. He would be three in only a week, but was imminently wiser than his years. And empathetic. It seemed he could sense at times what I and his mother were feeling, and we were close as a family. The thought of having to tell him that his mother was gone was something I could not even contemplate. "I will take care of him, my darling. Don't you concern yourself."

"Don't...don't send him away. He needs you...." Her voice was fading now. "He needs you."

"I shan't send him away. Never. We'll always be together, darling." I was blubbering now, but I would have said anything, promised anything she wanted. It was the last time she would ever speak to me.

She fell into a comatose sleep then, and I couldn't bare to stay in the room one minute longer. I wrapped up my daughter in the cotton blanket and placed her in Mary's arms. I think I could almost see the stillness and peace in the air, but I refused. My heart pumped with fury, yet I didn't no how to release it. After a shaking breath, I bent over and kissed her on her brow. "Goodnight, dear heart," I whispered.

Blakely was still outside when I left the room. I was grateful because I knew that a doctor needed to be there in the end, to pronounce, but that I couldn't bare it to be myself. His eyes flashed the question he was trying to figure the proper words for. I saved him the trouble.

"You will stay, won't you, Blakely?"

"Indeed. If you wish it."

"I'll be in my study, then."

"John"- he continued, grasping my arm. But he didn't say anything else.

"Thank you, Joseph."

I met our housemaid downstairs, her eyes red and swollen and nose dripping. I shouldn't think that she was contributing her full attentions to her household duties, but I really didn't care. In fact, a certain amount of me took some perverse pleasure in seeing this amount of loyalty. I hadn't really thought Ivy and Mary were that close. I suspected a certain amount of the grief must have been due to her fear of losing her place. She had no way o f knowing what I was planning now that I was to be a widower. Neither did I, for that matter.

"Oh, sir," she said, dabbing her eyes with her apron. "I' sorry. So sorry."

I patted her hand comfortingly. "There, there, my girl. We mustn't have that."
"Yes sir," she attempted to stop, but her lip was still quivering.

"Now you must listen to me carefully," I said. "Serve master Josh his dinner in the nursery as always. But you mustn't tell him anything that is going on."

"Oh, no sir! I would never!"

"Good. Keep him there until bedtime. If he asks were his mother and I are, you must tell him that we have gone out."

"But"- she started, so I squeezed her arm to emphasize the importance.

"No buts, girl! You must keep him in the nursery. Now go!"

Her eyes widened then, and she didn't say anything. Just gave a brief curtsy and hurried off toward the nursery. I couldn't blame the shock on her face. I have never handled her, nor anyone beneath me roughly before. Despite my service in the army, and even during the war, I never relished having to use violence against anyone. It is quite against my nature. But I was acting then, not on my upbringing nor judgment, but on adrenaline.

My study was really more like a family room for the use of Mary and Josh as much as myself. I kept my business papers and books there, a desk and writing supplies, and all original copies of my manuscripts for The Strand. All the adventures of my dear friend Sherlock Holmes, the ones the public read and some they didn't. But now there would be no more.

The only time I was disturbed that night was by Blakely, some time just after nine-somewhere between my third and fourth glasses of whiskey. Mary was at peace. Those were his words. I was not quite drunk yet, but on the verge, and I should think that he was very glad that I didn't ask him to stay. Let me just say now, dear reader, that I am far from a drunk, and indeed that night was the first time I had more than just an after dinner brandy or whiskery in more than ten years. The alcohol did something to me that night, something besides dull the ache in my chest. It transformed me into another time and place. I stood by the fireplace, gazing into the heat of orange and yellow, feeling the swirling warmth over all the places in me the whiskey didn't touch, listening to the cracks and pops of the wood splintering. And I began to relive all the people I had lost over the years.

On the mantel above the fireplace sat several pictures of my family and Mary's. Two were very old, taken when we children. The first was of my darling Mary's when she was hardly more than four or five, just before her Mother died. Her father Captain Morstan had on the uniform of a senior ranking Indian officer of the 70's, and stood proudly next to a young woman with flaxen hair and a delicate smile. Holding a gloved hand was a small girl, my own wife, who shared with her mother both appearance and demeanour. I smiled at the young girl, who looked ever so much the same today, only more beautiful.

The other dated cabaret was that of my relations. It was taken when I was ten years of age, with my immediate family. My parents sat stone-faced for the photographer, and I could remember that day it was taken. I thought that I must stand there forever trying desperately not to move, not to scratch at my high collar or to flinch from the heat of the photographers studio. My elder brother Henry, eight years my senior, stood to my left and looked every bit the man he tried to become. I cannot say he succeeded. He past on just five years ago of an unknown cause. He found solace for life's woes in the bottle, I am sorry to say. My parents, too, were deceased. My father passing when I was fourteen of a chest cancer, and my mother my second year at University, a long sufferer of consumption. Now, only my sister Abigail, five years younger and I survived. She was unmarried, living in the family home in Kent, and we were not close. It was as if I was an orphan to the world. Ironic, even. From the time I was quite a child, I had dreamed of practicing medicine. I think the inclination began some time around the age of seven, when a cousin just one year older died of German measles. He and I had been companions and his loss created a longing to help people. And while I certainly had, it seemed I was destined not to come to the aid of those I cared most for. Not my parents, my brother, my friend, nor even my wife and child.

There were three other photographs. One of Josh, taken just three months previously, another of he and his parents, and the final of our wedding party. It was that one that I studied. I had not looked upon it in some time, and took little pleasure in the expressions of wedded bliss worn upon the faces of Mary and myself. She was inexpressibly lovely that day, and if I do say so myself, we made a handsome couple. Her closest friend Anne Spencer had acted as matron of honour, and of course, I had asked Sherlock Holmes to stand up for me. I was slightly hurt when at first he had reservations, but I took that only to be his own proclivities against marriage. In the end, he had acceded to the reality of it, and permitted me to be the frontman for once. Although I remember him congratulating me once it was done, he had done so out of respect and comradeship, rather than genuine gladness for me. And then 15 months later, he too was gone.

I slammed the frame stupidly back onto the ledge, watching as the grass shattered, showering my hand with razor sharp bits of agony. How could I remember such things? Why would I even want to? Truly, I was a deplorable human being.

The rest of that most catastrophic night of my life was without incident. A blur of burning amber liquid and yellowing hallucinations of the bygone days. Eventually I collapsed upon the settee in a horrid nightmarish rest of mostly alcohol induction. I never moved, and I dare say that in those hours I cared little if I myself should have lived or died.

I should not trouble you further with the details of those next days of my life in which I saw to it that my wife was memorialised at St. Paul's in a most blessed and praiseworthy wake surrounding by mostly friends of ours and patients of mine. I then stood in a blustery autumn day of muted colours and mindset, watching as the single casket was lowered into the ground. The sentiment on the tombstone was one of utter love, love for beloved wife, mother and infant daughter. And then all was done.

There is only one further point I should like to recall before I turn my attentions to that of the astonishing reappearance of Mr. Sherlock Holmes. As it will come into narrative later, I should like to introduce my son at this point. Indeed, Josh plays a vital role in this memoir, something that the casual reader of The Strand never knew. As any father would, bragging is a common occurrence in regards of one's offspring, but do not confuse it with the truth when I tell you that my child was a remarkable boy indeed. Perhaps this explains why Holmes, who never showed even the vaguest of paternal instincts toward any child, took such an interest in him. But all that shall come later. For now, I remember him as a lad not even three years old, the only bright spot in a life that was so suddenly catapulted into blackness.

It was the next afternoon, when at last the dull pain in my head had ceased that I sought out my child to explain, as best I could, the loss he was not even aware existed.

Josh was a small child, having been born nearly one month prematurely. Short of leg and arm, with a large head, he was rather disproportioned. But a gorgeous child none the less. His hair was blond, like his mother, with the slightest hint of red colouring, thick and wavy, it lay on his head like the supple fleece of a lamb, curling around his brow and ears. His eyes were the most incredible shade of blue, like two sapphires glimmering in a pool of water. His cheeks were as rosy as a young girls, and when he smiled, it was as if the world should never frown again. To look upon him one could not be help be reminded of the angels depicted in stained glass on many a church.

He was in the nursery that grey day sprawled upon the floor with a children's picture book. It is not boasting to sat that at just shy of three, he could already read several words and even scrawl a few among these his own full name. My own intellect may not be dissimilar from that of most of my own class of men, but I can say without convection that Josh's ravenous appetite for knowledge was do almost completely to myself. I read to him every night, taught him the alphabet and the digits one through ten almost before he could speak and be recognized. By the time he was two, his diction was far cleaner and clearer than all of those his age I ever saw, and there was no end to his questions. At times, I could hardly answer them to his satisfaction. I should not have been shocked if he asked the meaning of life before he was mature to even be breeched*. But while one immediately thinks that such children who are superior in their minds, are inevitably inferior in some other respect, most likely their hearts, this was not the case with my son. I must admit falling prey to that supposition about Holmes when first we met. He was the most loving, caring, sympathetic child one was ever likely to meet. And so it was that I knew he was the only soul on this Earth that would realize what had been lost.
"Hello, papa," said he as I entered his room. To see me in the nursery was not surprising to him, for unlike many men, I revelled in whatever time I could spend with my child.

"What are you reading?" I asked, sitting next down next to him.

"Mother Goose. I can read all these words. He pointed a chubby finger at the cover of the colourful story, and read it aloud. "I can write it also, papa." His small child-size chalk board that I purchased for him some months ago had the words scribbled across, just legible enough for my trained doctor's eye to recognize.

"You are a clever boy, aren't you? That's very good indeed."

"Yes," he said, with all the modesty of a child his age. "I suppose I am."

"And now I must talk to you, Josh. Please lay down the book for a moment."

I think that despite his young age, he knew that what I had to tell him would not be a pleasant thing. I could read it in his eyes, as fear shines brightest of all. But he climbed into my lap without protest, and I was left to have to explain something I hardly was able to put into words.

"Joshie," I said. "Something happened yesterday. Your mother was given a baby sister for you."

"Where is she?"

"Let me speak. Don't interrupt. Now, I am afraid that the little baby was not big enough to survive. So she had to go to Heaven to live."


"Because that's were babies go when they aren't big enough to live here."

"You mean here in London, papa?"

"Um...yes. Here in London. Or anywhere. India, America, France. All of these types of babies must go to Heaven to live with God if that can't survive. And that's what happened to your baby sister."

"That's too bad," he said seriously. "I should have liked to have a baby sister."

I smiled into the soft blond curls, hoping he could read the sadness that it reflected. "But there is more. You see, a baby cannot go to Heaven all by itself. It's too small and too young to take care of itself when it's there. So your Mother had to go as well, to take care of her."
He paused, running this through his head, trying to make the connection. "You mean Mummy's in Heaven, also?"

"Yes. She is."

"For how long?"

"Forever. When someone goes to Heaven, they cannot come back again. It's forever."

"You mean she's not my Mummy anymore?"

"Oh no, son. She shall always be your Mummy. But she shan't be here anymore. She must stay in Heaver with the baby. And I must stay here, to care for you."

"But why can't we go to Heaven to live with Mummy and the baby also?"

"Because..." I had not an idea as to the answer for this. To explain the great mysteries of the afterlife and God and Heaven was more than any man was capable of understanding at times. I was expected to put this into terms that a three year old could comprehend. "Because we simply can't. Only Mummy and baby Vera could go to Heaven. You and I must stay here. I must care for my patients and you must grow up. You will see her again someday, Josh. But just not now. Not for a long time, I'm afraid.

He began to cry then, when at last he must have realized all that I was saying. "But I don't want to stay here without Mummy! I want to go to Heaven with her!" He buried his face into my waist coat and created two large wet-spots while I could only sit there and pat his soft head. That was the second worst of as many days.
Chapter three

And so now you now the details that I reduced to a single line in my published writings, and how, I think understandably, I was not the man I usually am, not even two weeks later, when I chanced at last to return to my practice. I must say that my assistant, Parks, was quite a remarkable fellow, and I should never be able to appreciate in words those feelings of gratitude I so owed him, for handling everything during this time. He was a magnificent lad who I think I never appreciated fully.

I became interested in the Ronald Adair murder, I think, partly because of the curious circumstances that had so been aroused in me by my acquaintance with Sherlock Holmes. One cannot help but be attracted to all that is strange and grotesque when around my friend, and I was no exception. But I think that also, a preoccupation of this case on my mind was a way of relieving it of so much pain. Distraction is the method for dealing with grief.

It was on my way back from the enquiry into his death that by chance I collided with an old bookseller. I was quite absent-minded at the time, regurgitating the facts of the case in my mind, trying so desperately for the gifts that possessed my deceased friend. I was well aware of his method, but the use of them in any practical sense just seemed to be beyond me. No doubt all that have read my narrative entitled "The Empty House" are aware of my complete oblivion as to the true identity of this elderly gentleman, and I quite forgot him as soon as I was in my cab.

As the workday was nearly out, I returned quickly to my consultation room, chatted briefly with Parks about the case, and together we closed and bid each other a good night. I had hardly been home and in my study but a few minutes when Ivy announced a visitor. It was the same old chap, the bookseller, wanting to apologize for his gruffness of earlier. I had just told him that he needn't have bothered over such a trifle, when I looked up again to see none other than Sherlock Holmes standing in front of me.

You are no doubt aware that this shock, coupled by the already shattered state of my nerves, caused me to faint for the only time in my life. But what I didn't say previously is that despite my intelligence and better judgment, I thought I was in the presence of a spirit.

I awoke with brandy tingling on my breath and collar ends undone. "My dear Watson," Holmes was saying. "A thousand apologies. I had no idea you would be so affected."

"Holmes, is that really you?" I gripped him about his thin arms, expected to go right through him, but indeed I did not. "How can it be that you are alive?"

"Wait a moment. I am not sure I should be discussing such things with you right now. I have given you quite a shock by my unnecessarily dramatic reappearance."

It was then that I insisted I was fine, and that he must tell me how he came to be standing in my study, when I thought he was lying at the bottom of Reichenbach Falls. You already know all of this. But while in my narrative of the great Sherlock Holmes return, I was nothing but the picture of jovial excitement and amazement. I regret to say that in reality I could not have been more dissimilar to that.

He was smoking a cigarette and leaning against my deskchair, as casually as if we were back in Baker Street, discussing a case. "And that was how I came to be alive when all, save my brother Mycroft, thought me dead."

I began to feel my pulse quicken then, staring at his calm demeanour. "How could you not have told me?" I asked.

"I do apologize, Watson, but you see, I could not. I needed you to convince the public that my untimely demise did really occur. Who better to conceive such a heart-felt and convincing sentiment than my own friend and biographer? No, no, dear doctor, there really was no way I could let you in on it."
"How dare you!" I screamed. Never, ever had I felt such a loath for someone I generally regarded with nothing but the highest measure of love and respect. "How could you do such a thing? Did you not realize how hurt I was at your death? That I was partly responsible because I could not save you? How could you be so cruel!"

He was on his feet now, looking both bewildered and saddened. "Watson, my dear chap, I am sorry. Truly, I am. But you must see that there was no way I could tell you! My very life depended on no one knowing I was alive."

I should think then that I took every ounce of restraint in my body to not strike him. I had lost so much, so much, and blamed myself so deeply for his death, and he had not the decency to relieve me of that guilt. "Yet you trusted your brother. You thought he could be trusted and I could not? I realize that I do not have the...callousness that appears to run in your family, but surely I am not such a complete imbecile that I could not be trusted with this." Even to me my voice sounded horribly sarcastic and bitter.

"Doctor, this is unworthy of you. I realize that you are quite affected by the tragedy that I have recently become cognizant of, and you have my sincerest sympathies, but you must see..."

"Sympathies!" I exclaimed. "I have your sympathies! What do you know of sympathy? To your cold, unfeeling mind, that is just a word, a definition to which you truly know nothing about! I never imaged that you would be capable of this...inhuman hoax, but now..." I paused. "Now I see that you are."

"Watson..." he could only shake his head. For once in his life, he was struck speechless. Never had he imagined that I would treat him like this. To see him standing in front of me as a disobedient child receiving a tongue-lashing almost swelled the sympathy in my own heart, forcing me to see that I was not acting rationally. But the hurt and betrayal that fuelled my ardour won out in the end.

"I am afraid, sir," I said in an icy voice. "That I must ask you to leave my house."


"Now, if you don't mind."

His jaw closed and those brilliant grey eyes blinked a few times with shock. But as silently as midnight, he gathered his remains of the bookseller costume, and walked out of my house, as civilized as ever. I should have thought than, that I may never have seen him again. And had that been the case, I would have deserved it whole-heartedly.

For a week after my confrontation with Holmes, I thought about going to Baker Street. I wanted desperately to see him, if only to prove that I had not imagined the entire encounter. My anger had subsided within an hour of his leaving, and when I thought of it with a rational mind, I realized that what I had said was not only not true, but ghastly and unworthy. But whenever I would start to give the familiar address to a cabbie, my tongue gave out and I could not do it. I feared he would never have me again after this. But I should have known the man better, and I week later, I found I did.

"Sir, there's a gentleman here to see you," Ivy said late on evening.

It was at these times of night that I found I missed Mary most of all. Just simply her company as I worked at my desk, and the comforting sound of her needle as she sewed. There was not even anyone to ask me how my day had gone. I immediately turned away from her, hoping with all my heart that she hadn't seen the tears on my face. "Please ask whoever it is to leave, Ivy. I'm not in the mindset to entertain anyone just now."

"Well...he's rather insistent, sir."

"I don't care if he is or isn't!" I shouted. "Please ask him to leave!"

"Watson," I heard a familiar voice say.

I looked up to see Sherlock Holmes standing in my entryway, dressed for the first time as I remembered him, as himself and not an old bookseller. His top hat was still on his head, suit all in black, as was typical of the fastidious man, expensive mahogany and silver walking stick in one hand. It was almost as if no time had passed at all since last I laid eyes on him (normally, that is) as if these last three plus years had all been just a memory. Part of me was filled with consternation at the very sight of him, knowing how I had treated him just a week ago. But overall, having him here in my very house, realizing that if he was, it surely meant he did not abhor me, I felt ever so much gratitude and relief.

"Despite my unwanted insistence, doctor, would you throw even your oldest friend out of your house and into the street?" His face held the slightest hint of sarcasm, but knowing him as I did, I recognized this as only part of his queer sense of humour.

In a rapid movement I wiped my eyes, hoping not to appear as to do so. "No, no, of course not," I said clearing my throat. "Come in, Holmes. Thank you Ivy."

He brushed past my maid, closing the door hardly before she had time to leave, and without divesting himself of his hat, gloves or overcoat. Yet instead of speaking, he paced about the room, rubbing his hands in a methodical fashion, one sure sign of his nervousness. Indeed, he was much like a restless spirit when he chanced upon matters that involved him to show something of his heart, rather than his brain. And I knew enough to know that was the very reason he was here.

I rose from my seat, trying with a supreme effort to give the impression of being composed, and motioned to my spirit case which remained unlocked do to my own taking of several helpings of brandy. "Would you like a drink?" I asked him.

But Holmes rarely took alcohol except when he was in calm or more jovial mood. Unlike many men, he did not rely on it to steady his nerves. He had other vices for that. "No, I won't, thank you. Surely you don't object to my smoking a cigarette however?"

"Of course not."

I think that forced small-talk between us was preying on both of us at that instant. Indeed, as he sent thick plumes of blue-grey smoke into my sitting room, I found myself staring at him, and he me, in a wordless tête- à-tête of some uncomfortableness. It was probably the only time that recalls to my mind when neither he nor I could think of one thing to say to the other. But I propose that the only reason for this was because neither of us wanted to say what we knew we should. At last, in my affectionate regard, and I dare say embarrassment at my behaviour, I acquiesced first.

"Holmes," I said. "I really must apologize for the last week. I...behaved badly."

"No, no," he waved his hand creating circles of smoke round him. "It is I who must apologize. I treated you deplorably. To think that I should expect you to welcome me with open arms after I played a most ghastly prank on you for these last years. I should never have allowed you to believe I was dead."

His sincerity, though, only plagued my heart with further guilt. For I knew that while he may have erred in his judgment of me, it was horrendously selfish on my part to have expected him to risk his very life to ease my conscious. "Holmes, you owe me nothing. Not apologises, nor even words. My behaviour last week was..." I could barely think of an appropriate word. "Hideous. All I can offer in way of an explanation is that I have not been myself of late. But I don't mean to use that as an excuse."

I saw something then that I dare say amounted to compassion. His steel grey eyes softened to something close to human, and his whole demeanour slackened. He took a final drag on his cigarette and pitched it into the fire. "My dear Watson," he said in a queer soft voice. A voice I had never heard before. "Your behaviour may have been inexcusable to you. But not to me. You have experienced so much tragedy in such a short period of time. I dare say my love of all that is dramatic only capitulated your grief. Had I thought...." He paused, no doubt trying to consider his words. Overt statements of sentimentality were not among my friend's strong points. "I should think I might have behaved very much the same had our places been reversed."

It may have been something in this statement of his, something very much I needed to hear, or it could have been something else altogether, something akin to the shattered state of my nerves and heart right at that moment, but whichever, I did something then that I had never done in the presence of another man before; I began to cry.
I should think that Holmes was somewhat shocked to see me do so, but he betrayed very little. Just a slight jutting of the eyebrows, and slackening of the jaw. It is hard for me to say exactly what just did occur right then, as I was preoccupied with blubbering apologies at him, and of course, being utterly embarrassed beyond belief. But somehow he was right there next to me, how, I don't know. In front of the fireplace one moment, and standing in front of me the next.

"I don't...I don't know what's come over me," I said, turning away from him. I couldn't bare to look at his face.

I felt his long, nimble fingers curl around my shoulder. My body became as rigid as ice, for the last thing I wanted then was his pity, nor even his hand on me. To behave as I was, was inexcusable for that of an English gentleman.

"Watson," I heard my friend say, quite gently and very un-Holmes like. "Turn 'round."

"Please just leave."

His hand tightened, revealing what I already knew of his stubbornness. He would not leave until it suited him, and it would not suit him until he'd had his say. I briefly was filled with a hot anger that even in my own house, he still had the upper hand on me, but then he spoke again. "Please, doctor, turn 'round."

And I did. Because I couldn't refuse him, not then, and not now. He stared down at me with all the tenderness that a man such as he is capable of, stared despite my humiliation, and then did something absolutely shocking. The hand that rested on my shoulder pulled me toward him while the other he placed on the back of my head. Indeed, out of all the things I expected him to do right then, hugging me was not one of them. I was too shocked to do anything but just stand there, my cheek pressed against his chest, breathing in the familiar smell of pipe tobacco which permeated his jacket, wondering what on earth had come over him. "My dear Watson," he said at last. "You know I should not think any less of you for it. If ever a man had the right to break down."

It lasted only for a few seconds and then he released me, transformed once again in the steel trap that everyone so often associates with the man. He had pulled out another cigarette, and was standing there with that odd smile about him as if nothing had happened in the least. "Thank...thank you, Holmes. For understanding."

But he merely shrugged it off. "It was nothing," he said. "And now," he paused to rub his hands together. "Now, we have plans to make."

"Plans? What sort of plans...hold on, Good God, man, you've been injured." It had been his hands, now clear in front of me, that I had noticed that he had the ring finger of his left hand in a self-made sling. Judging from the swelling of it, I could tell that it was quite broken. It looked as if someone had tried to wring it from the socket. Instinctively, with the trained doctor's eye, I sized up the rest of him. Right away, I was drawn to a bandage just visible on the top of his collar. The bandage was not exactly even, clearly he had done the work himself, and I could tell from what I could see of the wound that he had been scratched. By a human being, no less, judging from the width. "Have you had a fight with someone?" I asked.

He smiled. "It was nothing. A calling card from a friend, is all."

"A friend? If that is what a friend does, I would hate to see what an enemy..." I paused then, feeling my face grow quite warm as I realized what I was saying. I had a sudden picture of Reichenbach falls barrelling down on top of not one body, but two. They turned to bones in front of very eyes, a hundred years of waste and neglect. Quickly , I cleared my throat, and returned my attention to his injuries. "I could dress that a little better for you."

"No, no, don't concern yourself with it. A trifle, nothing more. A souvenir from a shakari gentleman. I was pleased to rid London of the colonel's presence."

I was about to ask who was speaking about, and no doubt Holmes realized it for he changed the subject. "And now about those plans."

"Plans...oh, yes. To what were you speaking about?"

"For you my dear fellow. You and your son."

"Me and my....wait a moment, how did you know that I had a son? Did your brother tell you?"

"Ha! Mycroft concern himself with a domestic matter outside of his own affairs? I should think not. No, no, indeed, he never told me a word. It was a simple deduction."

I quickly scanned the room, trying to figure out just what this simple deduction could be, but indeed I could not. "I so no such deduction." My eyes flashed toward the fireplace, and it was then that I remembered Josh's picture, sitting right in front. "You undoubtedly saw his picture."


"But surely that' wasn't enough."[6]

"Not exactly, no." He smiled, and gestured toward the floor near my desk. "You have been out of practice with regards to my methods. I should have thought this one quite elementary."

I looked down just beneath my feet and saw a single wooden toy soldier, about 12 centimetres in length with a beautifully painted red jacket and quite a detailed uniform and face. It was part of a set that I had purchased for the boy just a week ago on his birthday. I picked it up in my hand and set it on my desk, shaking my head.

"Aha, you see, doctor! So unless you are permitting your daughter to play war games with toy soldiers, I should think that the cabaret on the hearth is that of a young male Watson, junior."

"Apparently you have had not let your exceptional skills grow rusty over these last years."

He flashed me the whip-fast grin, and strolled over to the fireplace where he placed the picture of my son in his hand, studying it as he often did invisible specimens under his microscope. "He is...just short of three years, is he not?"

"Just turned rather," I said, one of the very few times I was ever allowed the opportunity to correct him. "His birthday was the fifth of October."

"Ah, then he was born prematurely."

"Yes...nearly a month as best we can estimate. But how did you know that?"

"A simple calculation as I remember the exact date that you ran into the sitting room in a fit of enthusiasm over the news of your impending paternity." His attention returned to the photograph. "Your son is quite intelligent, I dare say, already to the point of script being within his grasp. He is an impatient child, unusually so for his age, but not necessarily in a bad way. I also perceive that he is quite an active child. Clumsy on his feet still. Ah, and an animal lover. That's good, yes. Very good."

I heard myself laughing, laughing as he stood there, diagnosing my son from one cabaret that was taking three months ago. "Oh, Holmes. I know that I shouldn't be surprised. I am sure that you will not be surprised to hear that you are right, on every point. But I really must be blind because were he not my son, I should not see how you could know any of that."

"Now, now Watson. You will see it. Take the photograph. There's a good chap. Now." He placed his clasped hands in front of his face, and stared at me with feeling. "Don't just look at it. See it."

I tried, staring at the photo with penetrating eyes, trying to see with the eyes of a practiced observer rather than a father. "Well, I gather you figure he is intelligent because I will admit he has a rather large head."

"And his eyes, Watson. His eyes glimmer with mental activity. Yes, yes go on."

"I recall that you once told me it can be determined whether a person is right or left handed by the development of their muscles in the hand. And I guess you could see in the picture that his right hand is quite slim and muscular from repeated script practice."

"Very good doctor!"

"As for being an animal lover, he is most definitely, and you can tell his left hand that he is clutching Blackie , er...his stuffed dog."

"Yes, is coming back to you. Prey continue."

I shook my head. "I'm afraid that is all I can tell."

"Tut...tut...well, I suppose that not doing anything for"-

"Excuse me, not doing anything?"

He waved me away. "You know what I mean. As I was saying not doing anything for four years is bound to make anyone a little out of form. We shall remedy that in do time. Now, it is quite evident that he is impatient from the way his is grasping at the bodice of his gown. Did you see? Tugging at it, in fact. No doubt sitting still for the photographer was a challenge for him. The muscles in his legs are completely taught. When one is intolerant of a situation, they tend to tense up their body. And as for being very active, I noticed that his right elbow, the one visible, is scratched. This is the exact sort of mark one would expect from a child that is rough and active in his play, yet falls enough. Hence unsteady. No doubt if his knees were discernible they to, would be scuffed and marred."

I felt a smile creep on my face then before I could stop it. For the first time since Holmes had shown up in that unexpected manner, I began to feel as I always had when in his presence. Light-hearted, cheerful, amiable, at times baffled, but still. There is not another man whose company I more thoroughly enjoy. Just to see him back and working again...well, it was enough to fulfil my heart to somewhat the same state that it had been in before my loss. "You have described Josh to a T, I dare say Holmes. It is as if you have known him his entire life."

"Josh, is it?" He asked.
"Well, it is actually John Sherlock[7] Watson. Mary came up with Josh. You know-the 'JO" from his first name and the 'SH' from his middle."

"John...Sherlock? Good He...Watson, I am honoured. You would really name you child after me?"

I was pleased that he said so, although I will give to him that he tried very much not to look as though he were honoured. "Well, his middle name anyway. And besides, I thought that I was honouring your memory."

He flashed me that grin that I so associated with him. "Well, whatever your motives were, it was the most benevolent gesture I dare say I have ever been graced with."

Because accolades were so rare from my friend, I couldn't help be feel a flush a pleasure throughout my face. I had never had to anticipate his reaction on this point because of obvious reasons, but had he been alive when I had decided to bestow this title upon my son, I would have been wary as to his reaction. Unwarranted shows of admiration were something he turned his nose up at; once he even refused a knighthood by the Queen[8] herself, because he found himself unworthy of such pomp and stance. I was much pleased that in this case he apparently thought much of my bequeathing an honoured name on my child. So pleased in fact was I that I could not also resist saying, "You are also, Holmes, Josh's Godfather. Posthumously of course, at least I thought so, but I convinced the vicar that this was in exceptional case."

Holmes did not respond right away, but rather stood in his silent world, studying the flames in the fireplace as if they held a marvel of secrets, slowly sucking on yet another cigarette. I became some what concerned after a full minute of silence passed, and still he had not even commented. I knew that Holmes' religious affirmations were hazy at best, and although I only occasionally attended chapel, he never did. He had never expressed any exact affiliations as far as the subject as a whole was concerned, but perhaps they were deeper than first I thought. Perhaps I had even offended him by my presumptuousness.

At last though, when the fire had worn down to the paper of his smoke, he pitched it into the fire and clapped me quite suddenly on the shoulder, sending a start of pain through my old wound[9]

"I cannot wait to meet the lad!" He exclaimed. "As never would I imagine that I would have for myself a Godchild."

Relief flooded me, and silently I allowed a breath out. Although, despite it all, it did seem strange that Holmes would be excited to meet a child, even my own. He had never appeared to me a man who found much use for children, except for his own benefit, such as the Irregulars. Perhaps there was a bit of that famous wry humour in that statement, but I ignored it, in any case. "Well, you shall, in any case. Tomorrow, if convenient for you. I, for one, should be eager to see my old diggings once again. How I have missed that old sitting room!"

"Did you now?" There appeared in his face a glimmer of joy upon this, and he leaned forward expectantly. "Have you missed it enough that you would be willing to return and occupy it full time?"

"Occupy it full...what are you talking about, old man?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "My dear fellow, how can I make it any clearer? I am asking you to consent to share 221B with me once again."

"But, Holmes, wait..."

He began to shake his hand wildly and I knew no amount of protestation would shake his iron reserve. "Now, now, I've already thought the whole thing through, and can find no fault in my line of reason. You no longer need such large quarters for only yourself and child, and if I know you, which of course I do, I am certain you were thinking of selling anyway and moving nearer to your surgery, were you not?"

"Well, yes...the thought had...,"

"Capital! Baker Street is only three streets over, and of course, when the sicknesses slow, you will consent to re-join the agency, will you not?"

"But Holmes, what about my son? Or have you conveniently put him out of your mind because it doesn't fit with your plans.?"

He snorted, a sure sign of annoyance in the man. "Of course not. I have already talked to Mrs. Hudson about it. She agreed that the storage room attic should be turned into a bedroom for young Josh."

"But where will his nurse stay?"

"What does he need a nanny for? Mrs. Hudson will look after him while you are at your practice and of course, while the game is afoot."

"Oh, no, I couldn't impose on her like that."
"You would disappoint her greatly, I'm afraid, if you do not, Watson. When I first broached the subject with her, she was positively keyed up. Her children are all grown and gone, and you know how much she cares for them."

"But, Holmes, that's not the point." Although at that moment, I admit, I didn't know what the point was. I guess it was all just happening too quickly. I wasn't sure that I was ready to leave the home of my wife so soon, and resume my old lifestyle. But I had to admit there was a certain amount of allure about it. Back at Baker Street, back where the action was, back to my life's purpose....God, did I just think that? My life's purpose was to tend to the sick, not to follow around this eccentric, arrogant fellow and characterize him like some child hero-worshipping another. Surely that was not my purpose on this earth. Surely...

"Watson...." Holmes prodded, studying me lost in thought. "What are you thinking, doctor?"

Shoving my hands in my pant's pockets, I shook my head. "I just don't know. I should really take some time to think about this whole thing. You've only just returned, and life is changing so rapidly. Give me the night, and..."

"Of course! Take all the time you need! And now, Watson, if you don't mind, I have another appointment. Until tomorrow, 10 o'clock sharp at Baker Street, bring the boy and we'll discuss the intricacies of this change. I wish you a good-night, and Watson..." he paused and I watched as his face softened from steel to flesh for the second...or maybe the third time that night, a split second only before the cynicism returned. "It is glorious to see you again."

"And you as well, my dear chap. And you as well. I...uh, am glad that I can say that, you know. And again, I apologize..."

"No need! No need, Watson!" He interrupted me once again, but I could hardly harbour ill will at the sight of his happy state. And I must admit, it did my old heart much good to see him there, in my hallway, flinging his stick over his shoulder and touching his brim with a wide grin and then disappearing into the chill of the London night fog.

After all this settling, and my row with Holmes finished, I expected to sleep like a baby that night. My nerves seemed to have returned to something of a normal state, and despite all that had happened, not to mention what was going to happen in the very near future, I felt a degree of peace that I hadn't known in months now.

However, I was suddenly not the least bit weary, and I had much to think on. A quick glance at the fire showed me that in the time spent with my friend, it had dwindled down to popping cinders. I kept a basket of the previous weeks Times in order to start the fires. It must have been fate alone that the one I reached for was dated five days ago and also that for some reason, I was attracted to the headline on the front of the morning addition. Adair's murderer captured, it read. I had been so busy in my own scattered affairs, I had paid no head to any paper in a week. Yet as dutiful as ever, Ivy had continued to collect them and store them here. Quickly, I scanned the whole story.

Inspector LeStrade of Scotland Yard announced to-day that Colonel
Sebastian Moran, former of Her Majesty's Indian Army was taken under
arrest for the murder of the Hon. Ronald Francis Adair, who was killed
in his own home on the evening of the 30th. LeStrade is credited with
the arrest, but championed an anonymous third party, saying that most
of the credit was to go to this mysterious person. A model of a one-
of-a kind air rifle was found on Colonel Moran's person, and this is
believed to be the weapon used to kill Adair.

I stopped reading there as I was struck with a sudden thought of Holmes referring to his injured neck and finger. I was pleased to rid London of the colonel's presence. He must have been referring to Colonel Sebastian Moran. For some reason, this name recalled something to my mind. In his book of names, in which Holmes records details about any and everyone newsworthy that may affect him in his work, and the volume of 'M' was especially filled with vile brutes. "After Moriarty," my friend had told me some time ago, "Colonel Moran is the second most dangerous man in London." I had thought nothing of it at the time, but now even my brain could make the connection. Holmes had needed me the other night, needed me to round up this last lingering threat to his safe return, and how I had reacted? By throwing him out of my house.

My body stiffened slightly as I slunk into an armchair and picked up my cherrywood pipe. "Oh, Holmes, I should have never forgiven myself if some real harm had befallen you." I mumbled. The pipe felt smooth and comfortingly warm to my bare hand. It had, in fact, been a Christmas present these five years ago from my dear friend. I did enjoy a good pipe every now and then, although it was he that was the real pipe fiend. This particular one was especially fine, and although I never said it, I am sure that he should not have spent so much on me. And I knew then, as I heard the 'strack' of the match and saw the thick plume of smoke swirl around my head that I had to repay him for all of this. I had to go back. Back to Baker Street, back to The Strand, and most of all, back to my assistance, however single-mindedly it was, back to Sherlock Holmes.

Chapter four

Over my breakfast and paper the following morning, I informed Ivy that I would be giving her leave, as I was planning on selling my Kensington house to move closer to my practice. She, of course, knew little if anything as to the identity of the visitor of the previous night, and I felt it not necessary to explain why I was really leaving. I promised her a worthy bonus with her last pay as well as the best of references. She didn't look very surprised, at least until she asked what I planned to do with Josh.

"Will you be hiring another nurse, sir?" She asked.

"No, I'll be tending to him myself."
The look she gave me caused me to pay much attention to my coffee cup and feign interest in an article on French trading tariffs. "Well, I will have the help of an old friend as well." As if I owed her an explanation.

"Yes, sir." She began to clear the tray. I realized right then just what exactly I was undertaking. Two bachelors living as flat mates was not uncommon and not looked upon as odd. However, one queer old bachelor and a recent widower with a young son, living together without a nurse and only one landlady to cook and clean was. A man of my means raising a child with...well, frankly, another man was going to raise a lot of eyebrows.

By the time I got to the nursery, Ivy already had Josh fed and dressed. He was making out words with his alphabet bricks, sprawled out on his stomach on the floor. I noticed the words "Josh" "Papa" "Mama" and "Baby." My head bowed down, studying the floral pattern on the carpeting. It would be best to get him settled into his new house as soon as possible. If I could barely cope with this whole situation than how could I expect a three year- old child to do so.

He looked up as I was pondering this, and gave me a delightful grin. "Hello, papa."

"Hello, hello. Did you have a good breakfast?"

"There was bacon," he said, now digging around for a 'g' to complete the word 'dog'. "I like bacon."

"Do you now?" I said with a laugh. "Well, I have something else to tell you that I know you shall like. We are going out today. To meet a very important person."

He looked up with some interest reflecting in his eyes, like two precious sapphires. "Is it the queen?" He asked.

I laughed. "Oh, not quite that important."

"The prime minister?"

"No, no. You shall never guess because you have really never known him. Yet he is your very own Godfather."

"I have a Godfather?"

"Indeed you do."

He thought this over for some time, crawling into my lap with his stuffed dog in his mouth. He was as bad as Holmes and his pipes and cigarettes, not comfortable unless he was chewing on something. "What is a Godfather?" He asked, as I pulled Blackie free.

I knew he hadn't known. " is someone who will care for you should anything happen to me." I couldn't even begin to explain the religious aspects of it to his satisfaction. "His name is Mr. Sherlock Holmes."

"Oh, I know him," Josh said. "He is the man from your stories. The one who likes to solve mysteries."

"Indeed he is. He is also your Godfather and namesake."

"But you said that he was dead."

He said it so casually that I was uneasy in my mind. He did not fully comprehend what the word 'dead' meant. My fault, no doubt. I gave him conflicting ideas by an affectionate account of his mother and sister taking a trip to Heaven, yet when I last referred to Holmes, it was simply that he was dead. No wonder the boy talked so unsympathetically.

"That was what I thought for some years now," I explained. "However, I just recently learned that I was mistaken. Mr. Holmes is indeed alive, and we are to meet him this very day."

He shrugged. "Okay, papa. I guess I should like to meet my own Godfather."

I thought then of all the people, in the course of the years I had spent with Holmes, who had heard of him through his most generously earned reputation and were practically giddy to meet his acquaintance. It seemed humorous to me that my own son talked about something that some people took as a pivotal moment in their life as nothing more than a day outing. If one didn't know better, one would think he had somehow inherited that dry, droll sense of humour that so associated him. How, I don't know, but...

"I think that you shall find him a most interesting man, Josh. Well, come along then. We don't want to be late."

"Are we taking a carriage?" He asked.

"Of course."

He grinned as I bundled him into his coat, hat and mittens. He loved more than anything to ride in the cabs, because of course, of the horses. I could see that so far as he knew, the ride to Baker Street would be the highlight of the day. He was, though, very mistaken.
I had, of course, passed 221B several times during these last years, but always I found that it had a cold presence about it. I thought to stop and see dear old Mrs. Hudson, but in the end, I could not. To see the sitting room, preserved by Mycroft Holmes exactly as it had been would have been too much. The Persian slipper of tobacco...the chemicals lying about...the old padded wicker armchair...the, I could not stand to see that empty house.

"Is this were my Godfather lives?" Josh asked, studying the flat with wide eyes. He was somewhat wary and bashful around people he had never met, and I knew, if nothing else, this was going to be a strange encounter between the child and the man who in some ways were so alike, and in others, total opposites.

"Yes, indeed. And we..." but then I remembered that I had not yet explained to him that I planned to move back here. Better to wait for a more opportune moment. I was uncertain as to what he may think. He had never known any other home but our lodgings in Kensington, and to leave the house that held so many reminders of Mary...well, it would take some time to get used to for the both of us.

"We what, papa?"

"Never mind just now. Give me your hand, and remember to be as polite as possible."

Mrs. Hudson answered my bell promptly, and for a second, but only a second, I was struck with the queerest sensation of being unsure what to say or do, and everything Holmes saying about her being overjoyed about the entire situation being a...fabrication. My faith was restored when I saw that dear old face widen into a grin lit with the most genuine of lights. "Oh, Dr. Watson. It is so good to see you again," she clasped her steady hands onto my one free one, and I felt a great breath of London smog exhale my lungs upon the sight of it. To think that I would feel any consternation at 221B Baker street was absurd. It was...and I guess always shall be considered my one true home.

Giving her a sincere smile, I leaned forward to kiss her cheek. "It is likewise to see you, Mrs. Hudson. It really has been too long."

"Oh, indeed it has been, sir. To think that I should have the two of you in this house again. Oh, it shall be like olden times again, Doctor Watson."

I nodded, wishing that she had left out the part about being in the house again. I hoped that it went over Josh's head. "Mrs. Hudson, this is my son, Josh. Josh, this is Mrs. Hudson, whom I hope that you may grow much attached to."

"Hello," the boy said. "Do you make good cake?"

I stifled a laugh, but it was quite clear that my old landlady had quite already fallen for the cherub cheeks and strawberry curls. "Dr. Watson, he is the spitting image of you, no doubt, at that age! Lovely...just lovely. And yes, love, if it's cake you desire than you shall have it."

"I would be careful about making too many promises with him, Mrs. Hudson. He will hold you to them."

"Pish, posh," she said, squeezing his large head. "It shall be a pleasure to cook for somewhat who appreciates it." She raised her eyes toward the floor above and I knew just what she was talking about.

Josh put up with these little molestations better than most young boys. He reminded me of Holmes in that way, always eager to be fondled over, in a matter of speaking. Their friendship was sealed with the promise of cake and sweets.

"I must go up and see Mr. Holmes, now," I told her.

"I shall bring you up a pot of tea, sir. And some cake for this young rascal right here."

I picked my son up to cross the seventeen stairs to the sitting room as he is most unsteady on anything of an inclining nature yet. The first thing I noticed was that there was a most curious smell coming from the sitting room. Holmes was no doubt playing with his chemicals again.

The room, however, was exactly as I remembered it from the years I spent sharing it. My old chair looked so inviting alone by the fire. There was my desk where I spent much time compiling the adventures of my celebrated comrade, even the humidor where Holmes generously kept filled with some of my favourite cigars. But the majority of the room was his. Especially so right at that moment with the sharp, dusty smell of a boiling bluish chemical in a retort. I hadn't the slightest idea as to what he was doing, or using, for that matter, but the smell of chemicals, any, mixed with a cloud of thick tobacco was familiar and welcoming.

"Holmes, I say, what are you doing?"

He looked up from his table he was hunched over, as if first noticing our presence. "Halloa, Dr. Watson! Is it half past the hour already? Well, so it is, so it is!" In an instant he had sprung to his feet and was upon us with a wide Holmesian grin. One that betrayed happiness and revealed that steel trap of a mind ticking away, although on what I cannot say. He certainly hadn't answered my question.

"Well, in any case, whatever potion you are concocting, I have no doubt that you will not mind leaving it for a few moments so that a proper introduction can be made. Holmes, this is my son Master John Sherlock Watson. Josh, this is my dear friend, and your Godfather, Mr. Sherlock Holmes."
"A pleasure to meet your acquaintance, Josh. If you like apples, I have some fresh ones in the bowl over there. Grapes, too."

"How did you know that he loves apples?" I asked. I didn't remember telling him any such things.

"Oh, Watson...Watson, deduce, deduce! It is plain as the nose on your face."

But all I could do was shrug. "I can deduce nothing."

Holmes unravelled one long finger and pointed it in the direction of the lace edged collar of my son's gown. As I looked closer, I saw a faint stain, amberish in colour, and very faint. As the collar was virgin white, I was sure that this was exactly the sort of stain that a messy child dribbling the juice from apples would make. "Aha, I see."

"No, thank you," Josh spoke up. "I do like apples, but the lady downstairs is going to bring me some cake. Besides, you smell funny."

"Josh!" I said, wringing his hand with my own embarrassment, "I told you that you must be polite," but Holmes only exploded with laughter.

"No, Watson. Don't rebuke him for being honest. Ah, if only we adults did not lose our childhood virtues in order to correspond with the convention's of society. Yet ab incunabulis[10] we try to squash it out of them." He squatted down to three year old level and the steely grey eyes studied the innocent blue ones. "Do you know why I smell funny, my boy?"

"Because you were playing with the blue stuff over there."

"Very good! And what does that blue stuff smell like?"

"It smells very bad."

"Yes, but what does it smell like? Think, my boy, think."

Josh considered the problem for several seconds. "It smells like a book. I like to read books."

"Capital! Capital, Josh! I knew I was right in my assessments of you!" I was more than a little surprised when Holmes picked the boy into his arms with a whirl of excitement uttered by the boy. "You see," he explained to me. "I have been working with Rhodamine. It is a dye made by fusing an amino derivative of phenol alcohol with phthalic anhydride. I have reason to believe that it may be the vital ingredient in a new powder I am concocting. One that shall make the art of fingerprint tracing infinitely simpler. But also, as your son has reasoned, rhodamine is also a common substance used in the process of paper making."

"Ah, yes,'s been some time...since I took a chemistry class."

"I suggest that you do not wait too long before allowing me to tutor Josh in the subject. The younger one starts, the more he shall know in the long run." He set the boy back down and patted his head. "Now, lad. What else do you deduce about me?"

"What does deduce mean?"

It was my turn to laugh. "You see, Holmes! He is not quite as far along as you would like!"

"A trifle," he replied, waving his hand. "Deduction, my young friend, is the most important thing you shall ever learn. To deduce is to perceive, infer, to figure out in fact. It is using your mind to logically reason all that is not obvious, all that one would hold secret."

I was about to tell Holmes right then, I sat in my chair smoking on a ship[11] that his definition, while exact and ornate, was about as clear to my son as his explanation of the uses of rhodamine were to me, when Josh suddenly nodded his head. "Okay. I like to figure out things. I adduce..."

"Deduce," Holmes corrected, standing with a finger folded in front of his mouth.

"I deduce that you smoke too much."

I was so shocked that I nearly knocked my cigarette into my lap. As it was, I still jumped to my feet as if there was a burning hole in my seat. "How on earth did you know that?"

"It was easy, papa," Josh said, climbing into my lap. "I deduced all of his pipes over there. No one has that many pipes unless they smoke a lot."

"Ah, but how do you know that I smoke them? Perhaps they are just there for decoration."

" smoke them. The inside hole part is black from smoke."

"Well, I never..." I mumbled under my breath, patting the boy on his head. "It seems there are two of you that I must put up with now."

"Deductive reasoning, Watson," Holmes said, tapping his head. "Young Josh has it in vast quantities. We must see that he does not lose it."

"Yes, indeed. Josh," I said. "Why don't you run along downstairs and see Mrs. Hudson about our tea and cake?" I set him on his feet, and gave him a pat on the bum.

"Okay, papa," he said, skipping to the door. But then he turned and gave Holmes the queerest look I have ever seen pass before his young face. His features were contorted, his brow furrowed, and his lips pursed. The look could only remind me of but one thing. A certain man before the fire, church warden[12] hanging from thin lips, mind any other place but here, in the Baker Street sitting room. I fully expected something truly philosophical to pass from my child's mouth, however, I was somehow greatly relieved when it did not. "What do I call you?" He asked of my friend.

"You call him Mr. Holmes, Josh." I said, but somehow I knew Holmes, who had seemingly discovered a kindred spirit in the body of a three year old, would not have it.

"No, no, Watson, that won't do. That simply won't do. Now, my boy, what would you like to call me?"

"Uncle" replied Josh, as if he had been giving it hours of serious thought.

"But he is not your uncle," I said with a laugh.

"That matters little, does it? If that is what you wish you call me, then so it shall be." And the two smiled at each other, a smile of certainty and likeness, a smile of the past and the future. And then, Josh opened the door and I could hear his slow, unsteady footfalls on the steps.

I turned to my friend to find him already looking at me. "He is quite a remarkable child."

"I like to think so. Although, I must confess, Holmes, I have never seen you take an interest in such a...domestic thing."

"Well, I have never had issue to before. However, that is a conversation for another time. We, my friend, have things to discuss. Things regarding you occupying that empty room just above us permanently once again. You will, won't you?"

I could have been angry at his impudence. Among the things I counted as his faults, assuming too much (especially with myself) was at the top of the list. However, I had put up with it so long, I should think I may have missed it had this part of him suddenly dissipated. No other man knew me so intimately. "Well, Holmes, you know doubt had it reasoned before even broaching the subject that I could not refuse. So, of course, I will be happy to move back here."
"You do not have to do anything you do not want, Watson. Your tone suggests...well, I only hoped you would, but I don't want you to go against your wishes."

"No, no," I said, with a smile. "I didn't mean it like that. Forgive me. I only meant. Well, I guess I am a little concerned about how all of this will affect my son."

Holmes was busying himself lighting his pipe, but I have no doubt that he had no concerns on the subject. Flicking his match into the fire, he said, "You are concerned about...let me influence on the child?"

"Not at all!" I exclaimed, before I could stop it. But he had come closer to the truth than I would have preferred. And the queer grin the permeated his face despite the long handle of the pipe showed me that he realized this. "It is just...Holmes, I know my child better than you. He is very devoted. And one needn't have your mind to see that he will become quite attached to you. And I have some proclivities about I think you know what I mean."

He was chewing on the stem now, rolling it around his mouth as his brain rolled around the problem. "What do you ask of me?"

I had been trying since the previous night on how best to approach this delicate situation. As of yet, I hadn't thought of a favourable way. "Well, we must be, at least somewhat, conscious of who we allow in here. I don't want him subjected to any shady characters."

"Ah-hmm....yes, shady characters. Well, I shall do my best. What else?"

"Holmes," said I, clenching my knees with sweaty hands. "You know what else. The subject of your addiction."

He actually looked almost amused. I hated that, but he never would listen to me as far as that damn cocaine needle was concerned. "What about it? Are you ordering me to stop, doctor?"

"I have no right to do such a thing. Although you know my wishes on the subject. However, if Josh is to be living here with you and I, I won't subject him to your...shall we say, darker moods. It's not fair to him, for you know as well as I he won't understand. He must know nothing of that...contraption." I waved in the direction of the locked drawer in his desk. In it sat his syringe and at least one bottle of seven percent solution cocaine. Three years had not made me oblivious to that reality.

"Then you have my word, doctor, that never shall Josh bare witness to any of my little weaknesses. The needle included."

"Thank you," I said, but could think of nothing to add to it.
"Ah, Watson, this is going to be just like old times again," he was to his feet and pacing about the room like a restless animal, hands folded behind his back. "You, my friend, are the one constant in an ever changing time. I fear, Watson, that I shall need your company in these coming years. That was why I was so insistent that you come to live here once again. A dark cloud has shrouded this great city of ours, and it will be our duty to penetrate it with some manner of light. We are pilgrims in a savage land."

"Pilgrims? Dark clouds? Isn't this all a little philosophical for you, my dear fellow?"

"Perhaps," said he, pausing to gaze upon the traffic of London below us. His shadow seemed vague and iridescent against the flickering wall. It was as if someone only disguised as him was speaking to me. "But I have been at the chasm of death. The point were one can see not only what was, but what will be. It is our destiny that commands us, and the future which guides our present[13] And it is a black future indeed."

"Holmes," I said, moving quietly to stand beside him. "I know you have a tendency toward cynicism. But never have I seen such strange words of anger."

"A countenance more in sorrow than in anger[14], my dear Watson. No, it is only that we are so near a new century. The twentieth century. Just think on it, Watson! This will be the greatest century yet known to modern man. A new century and a new criminal mind. I alone will find that for all my powers, I may not be prepared to meet the challenges that lay ahead."

"Oh, come now, Holmes. Surely if there ever was a man worthy of advisory in a new age, it is you."

He smiled, and clubbed me on the arm. "We shall see, doctor. Indeed we shall see. However, the thought that I have you by my side fulfils me with new hope."

I can only say here that my friend's recent experience with Professor Moriarty at Reichenbach most have had a more profound effect than first I thought. I have never known him to speak of the future, and even if he had, I hadn't known it to be some bleak prediction of not being worthy to face it. And yet, in the coming months, he would face the future in a case that never before have I taken up my pen to write before. Yet, I will do it now to show you just why Holmes feared the unknown. These next years would be some of the most changing of my life, and some of the most revealing for my dear friend. Perhaps he had a premonition. Or perhaps, at last, he realized that our relationship would never be the same again. And all of it began with one case, one case that started as any other, yet ended as no other had.

----------------------- [1] "The Blue Carbuncle" [2] "The Hound of the Baskervilles" [3] Holmes quotes Poe-"The Raven" [4] from "Macbeth" (3.2.11) [5] I know that Holmes actually arrives back in London in the spring of 1894, but it fit better for my benefit to change it to the winter. [6] Watson's statement is viable because young children in that age were nearly impossible to discern between boys and girls. Josh's hair was probably kept long, and he would have worn dresses until somewhere between the ages of three to seven, at which time he would have been breeched. [7] Okay, this seems to be a common name for any son of Watson in fan- fiction. But it just fits so perfectly. To show a little creativity, I gave him Josh as a nickname. [8] Technically, Holmes' offer of knighthood comes by Edward, and not Victoria, and occurred in 1902 (3GAR), eight years after this story takes place. But for fictional benefits, the author is taking the liberty of saying it occurred somewhat earlier. [9] There is some debate in the Canon as to the wherabouts of this mysterious wound. In STUD, it appears in Watson's left shoulder, but in SIGN and henceforth, it is in his leg. For the benefit of this story, a common approach has been taken, and poor Watson is wounded in both places. [10] Latin-'from infancy' [11] slang for navy tobacco. Watson tells Holmes in "A Study in Scarlet" that he always smokes ships. Seems a little odd for an old Army man, but...there's canonical fidelity for you. [12] A long-stemmed clay pipe [13]Holmes quotes, or rather butchers, Nietzche. The full quote reads "Our destiny commands us even when we do not yet know what it is, it is the future which guides the rule to out present." [14] This is from Horatio, in Hamlet.