Mary and I were enjoying the second morning of our marriage, spending the time in leisurely walks to take in the sights of Southsea. The salt air was invigorating, the temperature balmy, and never did a man have a lovelier companion on his arm. However, our idyllic time together was rudely shattered, when, as we neared the railway station, I caught sight of an all-too familiar figure among the disembarking passengers.

I stopped, frozen in my steps, forcing Mary to halt as well. "What is it, John?" she asked in some concern.

It couldn't be. Not here. Not now.

"That man over there," I managed. "Are my eyes playing tricks or is that . . .?"

She squinted at the crowds and then her eyes widened. "Good heavens! That is Mr. Holmes! But whatever is he doing here?"

Confound it, Holmes knew Mary and I would be in Southsea! What the devil was he doing here? No matter how much he disapproved of my marriage I simply could not credit the idea that he would deliberately interrupt our honeymoon.

"He must be on a case," I said more confidently than I felt. I hoped it was a case, or else I could not be held responsible for my ensuing actions.

"Will you go up to greet him? I could not tell from Mary's tone or expression if she wished me to do just that or if she would prefer we turn around as though we had not seen Holmes.

"If I must," I replied, far more churlishly than circumstances warranted.

Mary gently squeezed my hand. "You might as well talk to him now. If he's come to find you he will do one way or another, and perhaps at an inconvenient time. If he hasn't we shall not spoil our honeymoon with uncertainty."

I felt myself smile as my spirits lifted. "My dear, whoever said women are illogical had clearly never met you. But I truly hope that it is the latter circumstance, not the former."

"As do I!" she uttered most fervently.

Thus bolstered, together we made our way through the crowds. About six feet from him, Mary dropped back and allowed me to continue alone. "Holmes?" I called.

At the sound of my voice Sherlock Holmes started wildly and turned about. I confess, I did take some amusement in seeing my friend so startled but his expression upon seeing me was chastisement enough. There was earnest distress written plainly across his features.

"Watson, my dear fellow, I had hoped I would not see you here!"

"You knew Mary and I would be in Southsea," I pointed out, glancing at her over my shoulder.



"I did, yes," answered Holmes, giving a brief tip of his hat to my wife, "but I meant for our paths to go uncrossed. I never meant to intrude on your holiday."

"But you still came here." I would, for the time being, overlook his using the word "holiday" rather than "honeymoon." The implications were not pleasant ones.

The detective smiled helplessly and gave a Gallic shrug. "You know I have a weakness for the macabre and bizarre, and this case has both. It is one of those so-called 'locked room' mysteries though in my experience there are precious few worthy of such a title. Nevertheless, the devil is in the details. Watson, I assure you, were it not for this case I should never have set foot anywhere near Southsea. I understand," he added in a low tone, "what this time means to you both. I should be a scoundrel of the lowest order to intrude on it intentionally."

I nodded, my relief undoubtedly evident.

"And now, Watson, I fear I am late in meeting Inspector Ronald at the crime scene and so I shall bid you both adieu. Again, congratulations." With that, Holmes hailed a dog cart near the platform and was soon rattling away.

Mary slipped her arm through my companionably. "There, you see?" she said gaily. "A perfectly simple explanation. Nothing shall blot our happiness for the next two weeks."

Alas, I fear she spoke too soon!