Love Covereth All Sins
Proverbs 10:12 "Hatred stirreth up strifes, but love covereth all sins."
"Good heavens!" cried Holmes. "I had totally forgotten him. My dear Watson, I owe you a thousand apologies. To think that I should have overlooked you! I need not introduce you to Mr. Culverton Smith, since I understand that you met somewhat earlier in the evening."
-The Adventure of the Dying Detective
Those words were still ringing in my ears even as the door shut behind the police and that formidable, malicious man named Culverton Smith. I could hear the villain's furious howling even as the group exited our flat into the street, a sound that ran a chill through every fibre of my soul at the awful thought of what might have been.
However, my head was still whirling, not from the knowledge that Smith was a murderer, but from those two sentences, uttered from my friend Sherlock Holmes in that careless, almost flippant tone of voice he was wont to use when so excited about one of his cases. "My dear Watson, I owe you a thousand apologies. To think that I should have overlooked you!"
His first words to me after putting me through a veritable living hell for the last eight hours.
After insulting my professional abilities, putting me through the heart-wrenching belief that he was dying, making me fetch Culverton Smith and being forced to listen to the man gloat over (I thought) murdering my dearest friend, and then having the nerve to forget I had even been witness to the final confession, and – the unkindest cut of all – saying he had no faith in me.
"If I am to be forced to have a doctor, at least let me have someone in whom I have some confidence!" Words fail me to describe the deep wound he had given me in that exchange - had it really only been a few hours previously? That had cut deeply, more deeply than the fact that he did not trust me enough to tell me the truth about Smith before now.
For years I had always accepted his unorthodox methods with little or no questions, the man's value as a friend and companion much outweighing any inconveniences he caused me with his ways. I listened and tolerated; such were my roles in our relationship, and I was completely happy to rest in the knowledge that I was the only man Holmes would even open his life slightly to include.
Odd chemical experiments and noxious odors filling the house, violin solos at all hours of the night, leaving such clutter on our sitting room floor that it would throw Mrs. Hudson into violent hysterics, tweaking me incessantly about my scribbling, dragging me out of bed at ungodly hours of the day or night to rush off on another chapter of what he liked to call "the game," all were part and parcel of the thing – the privilege of being the closest, perhaps the only, friend to the world's most foremost reasoner of our day.
But this, this was not another chapter in "the game." This was no simple experiment gone wrong, no offensive hobby of his that annoyed me at frequent intervals. And his promised thousand apologies would have availed him nothing had he even attempted to offer them at that moment.
With the shutting of the front door, my intense relief at finding Holmes's illness to be a mere ruse in this dangerous game he was playing turned to a deep, wholehearted, burning indignation. And as he turned to me, rubbing his hands together with that gleeful smirk on his face, the last vestiges of my shattered control fled me.
"Well, Watson!" he said with not even a trace, I was angered to note, of remorse or penitence. "It came off rather nicely, don't you agree?"
My last ounce of composure withered away at that flippant tone, and all the unsaid and undealt-with emotions of that frightful day came crashing down across my barriers to be unleashed on the unsuspecting detective.
"How DARE you, Holmes?" I exploded with more vehemence than I had ever shown in that nine years of our association.
His glee almost visibly evaporated on the instant, and he stared at me in some surprise.
"How dare you?" I repeated heatedly, not knowing what I was going to say and, quite honestly, not caring. "You stand there as if you had just merely made a normal arrest in our sitting room and act as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened in the last eight hours! How can you?"
"Watson, for heaven's sake, my dear fellow –"
"Don't you dear fellow me, Holmes!" That arrested his attention, and he took a tentative step backward at the sight of my undisguised anger.
"Watson, I –"
"You what? You what, Holmes? If you intend to say that you are sorry, do not take the trouble, because I have been lied to enough today already!" I cursed under my breath when my voice shook on the last syllable. Hoping he had not noticed, I went on in my tirade.
"I was going to ask if you would be so generous as to allow me to explain my very good reasons!" he snapped, and I took an evil pleasure to see some color rising into his pale, emaciated face.
"What reasons, Holmes? Are you even able to explain why you decided to let me think you were dying? Explain the reason why you thought it would be a good idea to leave me in the dark until the criminal himself were caught? Explain why you have lost all faith in me and why you no longer trust me?"
He started visibly. "What gave you that idea, Wats –"
"What gave me that idea?" my voice had risen with my temper and he winced from my near-shouting. "How you can stand there and ask that is undoubtedly the most pompous, arrogant, conceited – "
"Now, look here, Watson!"
"I'm not finished with you yet, Holmes!" I said angrily, "You are the most conceited, self-centred individual I have ever met in my life! You seem to think that because you have special powers, that that gives you the right to use anything and everything to get you what you want! It is all just a part of the game to you, isn't it?"
Holmes was trying to say something, but I hurried on, the words falling from my mouth before I could think of what I was saying.
"You think that the entire world is at your disposal to use at will to accomplish your own ends! The police, Mrs. Hudson, and even I – we are all mere tools that you can use at your pleasure to allow you to win the game! Well someday, Sherlock Holmes, you're going to realize that there are more important things in this life than your precious cases! There is more to life than always being the victor in some lovely little mental challenge, and if you weren't such a pathetic, empty, selfish - machine, you would know it takes no great deductions to see that!" I stopped, horrified at what I had just said.
Holmes's red face had suddenly gone frighteningly pale.
"Get out," he snarled, his features contorted with a sudden flash of anger.
"I shall, with pleasure!" I shot back, my hurt at his tone paling in comparison to the ones already inflicted upon me today. "And the next time you need an errand boy, I hope you are able to find one in whom you have 'some confidence'! Good evening!"
I slammed the door behind me with unnecessary force and stomped down the seventeen steps to the floor below, my whole frame shaking from the effects of my unusually violent anger and the realization of the horrible things I had just said.
At the foot of the stairs, I put my arm against the wall and laid my forehead on it, trying to pull myself under some control before I left the house.
So distraught was I that I did not see or hear our landlady coming up to stand beside me until she gently laid a hand on my arm, making me start in surprise.
"I apologise for the shouting, Mrs. Hudson. I fervently hope you did not hear all that." It is not as if she could help hearing it, the way you were carrying on, I thought miserably.
The good lady's face showed kind sympathy as she patted my arm. Poor woman, she had heard many tense moments between Holmes and myself over the years, but none like this one. "Sir, I take it that Mr. Holmes is not as ill as we had feared?"
"No, Mrs. Hudson," I said, and a small part of my anger dissipated when I saw the unashamed tears of relief well up in her eyes. "He is in no danger. Other than that of my killing him for what he did today!"
"Oh, Doctor," she said softly, gesturing to my coat questioningly.
"No, I cannot stay here another moment, Mrs. Hudson. Thank you, and I am sorry for what you have gone through." My words came out more curtly than I had intended, due to my difficulty in trying to hide my deep, frustrated anger from the woman.
She nodded, understanding as always. "Let me call you a cab, Doctor. The rain and fog are terrible just now."
"No. I shall walk."
"Thank you Mrs. Hudson, but no. Good evening."
With a sigh, she opened the door for me and saw me exit. Some of my emotions were instantly squelched by the deluge outside, in which I was loathe to walk all the way back to my home in Kensington, and I felt another little bit of my anger seep away with the rain. I turned back to the door of 221b.
"Mrs. Hudson?" I called over the sounds of the rain.
"Make sure that Mr. Holmes eats something, will you? He says he has not in three days, and he looks it. Something light at first like soup, then gradually work him into something a little more substantial. And try to keep him off the smoking until he starts eating properly."
The good lady's face broke into a small smile. "I shall, Doctor," she promised.
"Good," I replied curtly, stalking away through the pouring rain in the direction of my home and consulting rooms.
TBC - Holmes's POV. Please review!