He was startled when Mrs. Watson answered the door. He had expected her to succumb to consumption during his hiatus, not make a full recovery. Certainly he had not expected the blonde toddler who peered at him from behind her mother's skirts.
Still in the guise of the old bookseller, he mumbled an apology and took his leave. He would send the most dramatic news in a telegram and appear in his own persona in a few hours, after the initial shock had worn off.
Holmes left Watson's home shaken. Gazing into the child's face – seeing the combination of her father's eyes with her mother's chin – he had had realized the partnership would never be the same.