One day Holmes was in one of his bizarre moods, practicing with his hair-trigger on the wainscoting, when I voiced the question to stop his property destruction.

"Holmes, there have been rumours…"

"Astounding observation, Watson," he drawled, aiming for a knothole.

I ignored him pointedly. "Since I published that first story in the Strand, I mean."

"I have always held that your scribbling was targeted toward hero-worshipping women and children."

I scowled. "Rumours about you and Irene Adler, Holmes."

He lowered the gun momentarily, staring at me. "Her name is Norton, Doctor, and kindly remember she was happily married until her death."

"People are asking what exactly occurred between the two of you."

"Eh?" Bang. "She outwitted me; but better than to fall before a less noble adversary. What else is there?"

"Why do you keep her picture on the mantel, then, if you have no feelings toward her?" I asked sensibly.

Holmes's eyes flicked in amusement over to the portrait and then back to me. "Why do you keep General Gordon's over your desk? Are you in love with him, Doctor?" he asked, grinning.

"Certainly not!"

"Well then." He returned complacently to his wainscoting-defacing. "Is it so wrong for a British gentleman to have a heroine rather than a hero? Be a good chap, fetch me another box of bullets?"