"And here comes the country surgeon and Mrs. Rucastle, so I think, Watson, that we had best escort Miss Hunter back to Winchester, as it seems to me that our locus standi now is rather a questionable one."
"Holmes," I protested sotto voice, "I don't like to leave Mr. Rucastle in this condition. I too am trained as a surgeon; I can continue to treat him just as easily as the doctor Mrs. Rucastle has brought. Go on ahead with Miss Hunter and I shall meet you in Baker Street."
"No, Watson, that will not do," replied he with immediate decisiveness. "Please, tell the surgeon whatever it is that he needs to know and come back now."
I took his arm and led us to a corner for a little more privacy. "Holmes, I cannot simply abandon my patient."
"He is not your patient and you are hardly abandoning him when there is another physician not a few feet away."
"What do you mean, 'not my patient'?" I exclaimed, stung.
The look he favored me with was sharp and troubled. "I suppose by the strictest definition he is your patient in that he is in need of medical treatment and so far you have been the one to provide it. But I do not like to think of you sacrificing any more of your time or concern on that fiend. Bad enough you put your life in jeopardy to rescue him. He is altogether unworthy of the effort."
"Watson, you have heard for yourself the depths of Mr. Rucastle's depravity regarding his own daughter," he snarled, though his anger was not directed towards me. "It seems to me a very poetic form of justice that he has come to this. I am not so altruistic as you. I would just as happily have watched him perish then and there, as he would have had you not killed that beast of a dog."
"I could not let him die," I confessed quietly. "Despicable as the man is, I could not simply stand by and do nothing."
He sighed. "I understand. But you have done all that you could without your bag and supplies. In short, you have done enough for him."
"Holmes," I remonstrated wearily.
"Of course, if it is a fee you're after you can certainly bill him for services rendered," he added slyly. "Including the cost of the bullet you were forced to expend to save his miserable life."
"You know," said he, taking my arm and leading me back, "I really ought to do a monograph on how different inflections of the voice can change the meaning of a single word or name. This particular dialogue is especially enlightening in that respect."
"There, you see? Another example already. Now, my dear fellow, will you kindly communicate with the surgeon so we may be on our way?"
I sighed reluctantly. "I suppose I must. Although if I am going to bill anyone it shall be you. If I were staying to treat him I would be collecting a much greater fee and I have you to thank that I am not."
"If I did not know you to be speaking facetiously I might take offense," Holmes answered merrily. "As it is, consider it payment enough that our journey's expenses are coming out of my pocket."
"Now I shall certainly have to write up that monograph."