THE CURIOUS CONTENTS OF THE BAKER STREET BUTTER-DISH

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HOLMES, YOU'VE GONE TOO FAR!

As I entered the sitting room for breakfast I was greeted by a cry of surprise and disgust. Watson was already seated at the table, the cover to the butter-dish in his hand, suspended in midair. On his face, consternation, irritation, and amusement vied for dominance. I followed his gaze into the butter-dish and understood immediately what must have happened.

"Ah, so that's where Christopher Todd's right lateral incisor got to!" I exclaimed, plucking the offending item out of the butter. I spun the tooth between my fingertips to rub off the residual grease and only became aware that Watson had risen from his seat and shifted his look to me.

"And why, Holmes, is Christopher Todd's right lateral incisor in the butter-dish?"

His pacing was carefully measured, the tone superficially polite with a dangerous undercurrent. I noted the puzzlement had disappeared while the anger and amusement had most assuredly not. I had to tread lightly if I did not want a scene. Watson has an extraordinary innate tolerance of me and my eccentricities but there was a strong chance that this characteristic would be submerged beneath early morning grumpiness. Or worse, that I might actually find the limit to his patience.

"You recall that last night I was endeavoring to compare the tooth marks left in the flesh of Gregory Oppenheimer's arm to the marks made by Todd's tooth?"

"As I recall, I said at the time that such endeavors would be better left to a dentist," Watson replied, still using that calm, dangerous voice. "You said that a dentist could not be found on such short notice at that time of night, and there was no time to lose, lest Todd 'mysteriously' lose any more of his teeth."

"Especially since we had the devil of a time finding his missing incisor in the first place." I laughed and stopped abruptly. Watson had not joined in. "I was right, though. Todd did attack Oppenheimer."

"But that still does not explain how Todd's tooth came to rest in the butter-dish this morning."

Watson was no closer to deciding upon his reaction and I feared the next news would be the deciding factor.

"I needed a soft surface to make tooth prints in. The butter was ideal." At Watson's horrified expression, I hastily added, "I disposed of the used butter, or rather, I thought I had turned it and the tooth in at the Yard as part of the evidence against Todd late last night. Clearly I erred, as this is that very same butter."

"Clearly." Watson had definitely tipped towards anger and I strove to cut him off.

"Oh, come now, Watson, this isn't the first time you've seen me messing about with butter for the sake of a case," I pointed out, wheedling shamelessly. "There was that dreadful business with the Abernetty 

family; Mrs. Hudson has still to forgive me for the grease stains in the rug by the fireplace, you know, and that case ended in success."

"Nor is it the first time your criminal relics have turned up in less than desirable places," Watson retorted, as implacable as a terrier with a rat.

"True," I answered, seeing a chance to tip him back to good humor. "There was that railroad spike from the Bellanger case that Lestrade found in the chair a few years back. You'll note to this day he will never accept a seat from either of us so casually. Then there was the – "

"The adulterated sulphur that found its way into the tobacco we almost consumed two days ago? Or the rusted revolver that did not, in fact, kill Roger Matkins that we rediscovered when it fired itself unexpectedly last week and added a new bullet hole to the wall?"

Ah. I had made a tactical error by turning his memory to those occasions where we were inconvienced, or worse, by the wanderings of case souvenirs and chemicals. "I am really very sorry, Watson," I offered humbly.

He favored me with a look that must have terrified underlings in the British army. Then he very deliberately replaced the lid of the butter-dish and shoved it in my direction with his brows raised a fraction of an inch.

"Holmes. Henceforth there will be no more 'relics' in the butter-dish."

It was not a request or even a flat statement, but an unveiled threat.

"No," I agreed though my acquiescence was taken for granted. Watson had already risen from the table and retired to his room.

Thoroughly cowed, I removed the butter-dish and its unsavory contents from the table. I would have to contact the Yard and let them know about the mix-up. And, I feared, I should have to keep my word to Watson concerning the butter in the future. The man could be deucedly creative when the fancy struck him; I should hate to be on the wrong side of his vengeance.