n.b. I am, for the moment at least, using a slightly modified version of Mr. Frankland's cranky chronology, a copy of which may be found at http members aol com mfrankland chronology htm (add punctuation as appropriate). The additional appearances of the Lauriston Garden mystery in monographs which have been lost to posterity are mine own.
I think she is one of the most charming young ladies I ever met and might have been most useful in such work as we have been doing. She had a decided genius that way... -- from The Sign of Four
That was always the way. Folk who were in grief came to my wife like birds to a lighthouse. -- from The Man With the Twisted Lip
Excerpts From the Journals of Mary Morstan -- rediscovered by rabidsamfan, with apologies to Dr. Doyle
Saturday: September , 1887
Well, it seems I am not to be rich after all. The treasure is at the bottom of the Thames, and the mysteries are solved. But things have turned out not so badly, for John returns my regard, and has asked me for my hand in marriage. I told him yes, should we both still feel the same after a week's rest.
Sunday: September , 1887
John and his friend came with me to visit Thaddeus Sholto, newly freed from suspicion but still shaken by being forced to attend his twin's funeral in chains, to tell him of the loss of the fortune, and to explain how it came into his father's hands. Mr. Sholto, bless him, believes that my father meant to have the treasure divided with Small and the others, as had been agreed, and lays all blame for the tragedy upon his own father's foolish greed. But he's had a bad shock, and was very glad to have John listen to his heart again and prescribe a convalescent diet and a week's bedrest. There is something quite reassuring about the dear doctor, but I can see that his friend Holmes is concerned for him, for the strain of last night's adventure was clear in the pronounced increase of his limp. I sent them both back to Baker Street in a separate cab, pleading exhaustion on my own behalf, and made John promise that he would get a good night's rest now that the danger is past. I said as much to Mr. Holmes as well, but I note that he was careful not to assent and merely observed that his chances for uninterrupted sleep were far better since the doctor would not be sitting up all night writing up his notes.
Monday: September , 1887
I have had a visitor. Sherlock Holmes. He has told me a great deal, and I write it down now, as well as I can remember it, so as to try to think it all through.
He came in the early afternoon, unannounced and alone, and asked leave of Mrs. Forrester to speak to me privately. She granted us use of the little parlor for the day, and ordered the fire lit that we might be comfortable. I could tell from his face and manner that he had not rested well or much since our last meeting, and when asked admitted that he had not yet had luncheon. He accepted the offer of tea and cakes -- indeed, Mrs. Forrester gave him no choice in the matter -- and we retired to the chosen room, speaking of inconsequential things, the weather, and a concert he had been to, until the girl had brought the tray and departed again. But once she had gone he took a sip and steeled himself to his purpose.
"I am not quite certain that I am doing the right thing," he said. "I am not... I depend on Watson's judgment when it comes to women, far more than perhaps I should. The reason why is unimportant, but the fact remains that I have no clue as to how you will feel about what I have come to tell you -- and I am... concerned... that by bringing you into my confidence - and Watson's - I shall somehow dissuade you from listening to my friend with an open heart."
"I try always to listen with an open heart," I said. "And I do not think you need fear that I shall take anything that you tell me amiss about Dr. Watson, for I am certain it shall be the truth."
"But why did you beg a week to consider his offer?" Holmes asked, and although he tried to hide his distress I could see it in the set of his shoulders.
"Not for my own sake," I said. "But for his. He barely knows me -- just now I am the romantic heroine of a tragedy. In a week's time he might see more clearly. When he is rested." With some hesitation I added, "And well." Holmes had dragged John Watson over more than half London on my behalf - had risked his life in that dreadful chase on the river - and while I was sure that the good doctor had wished to be a part of the chase, I was not so certain that Holmes had been right in allowing him to go along.
Holmes groaned and covered his face for a moment with long hands. "It will take more than a week," said he, and then raised his eyes to meet mine. "Watson has not been truly well in all the time I've known him."
It must be confessed that my hands shook a little as I set my own teacup down. "And you fear that I will refuse to wed a sick man?" I asked. "You need not. I have known from the moment I met him that his health is not what it should be. But we must take happiness when we find it in this life, and relish it all the more if it is brief." I made myself smile. "No man is perfect, Mr. Holmes."
A corner of his mouth twitched in what would have been a wry smile in another man. "True enough." Restlessness overcame him and he got to his feet and strode over to gaze sightlessly at the knickknacks on the mantelpiece.
"Where is Doctor Watson?" I asked, when he did not speak.
"Abed with a mild fever. Again." At my gasp Holmes turned. "But not alone. Our landlady, Mrs. Hudson, has him under her eye, and she is more than capable of dealing with him in this state."
"She has before, I take it."
"Yes." Holmes began to pace. "I am a poor sicknurse for anyone. I haven't the patience for it. Not while he's lucid, in any case." He ran a hand through his hair. "I am not telling this well."
"Perhaps if you began at the beginning..." I suggested.
Again that small quirk of a smile. The grey eyes looked upon me with more favor than I had seen before. "Very well," he agreed and settled back into his chair. He steepled his hands for a moment before speaking, whether in thought or prayer I could not say. But once he began the question was driven from my mind.
"I met Watson in January of '81, some months after the disastrous battle of Maiwand. I had, at that time, come to realize that my room in Regent Street was poorly placed and my landlord intolerable, and in my search for new quarters I had come across the home of Mrs. Horace Hudson, a woman newly widowed by a street accident, and looking to take lodgers to supplement her income. The location was ideal, but the rent which she required was beyond my purse, and I had said as much to a student I knew by the name of Stamford in the dissecting rooms at Barts. Later that day he brought Watson to me. I could see at a glance that he had been injured, and ill, for he was bone thin -- even more so than he is now. I deduced from his bearing and his sunburn that he had been in Afghanistan, and wounded there, but as I was all alight with a chemical discovery I had just made, I did not think to inquire further. When I found that he would be willing to go halves with me on the rooms in Baker Street I gave him a list of such small vices as could not be concealed from a roommate of whatever intelligence, and he returned the favor, adding that he had a different set of vices when he was well. But as he was in England to recuperate and be re-evaluated for service in the Army, I did not think that the second set of vices would matter. I made certain that the rooms would be secure for at least six months, by which time I hoped to have completed my studies and sufficiently established my practice as a consulting detective so as to no longer require a roommate. In any case, as I had never shared quarters with anyone who could tolerate me for more than a year I had every expectation that our association would be brief.
"You will understand my frustration when I tell you that Watson's natural reticence was a thorn in my youthful arrogance. I expected to know everything there was to know about the man from observation and deduction within a week, but by the end of that week I knew little more than I had after our first meeting. Part of that, it must be confessed, was our differing schedules. I was on my best behavior, retiring early and rising with the sun, while Watson seldom set his books or his journal aside before one or two in the morning and as a consequence almost never breakfasted before luncheon. Few of his possessions had survived his misadventures to satisfy my curiosity -- the silver ring he wears on his right hand, a smattering of medical instruments, and his service revolver, nothing more. He had two suits, both made in India, and a uniform that was clearly a piecemeal, assembled, I assumed, from whatever items had fallen into the hands of the hospital which outfitted him for his medical review. Everything else he had with him was newbought, and had yet to lose the patina of the shop. I had learned but one thing, and that I had suspected from the start."
He paused, and I knew that he would need a prompt from me to continue. "And that was?"
"That he was an addict."