FINALLY, finally finished! You see ? I swore I wouldn't leave this unfinished and I didn't.
I have no excuse to make. It was at least 90 percent sheer laziness on my part, and I humbly thank everyone who stuck with this – and me – for so long.
The capture and arrest of Colonel Sebastian Moran has been documented elsewhere, albeit altered by some creative liberties. For the most part it is an accurate account. Holmes's plan did involve setting a blind in the empty Camden house across from 221 Baker Street, using a bust to simulate himself. We secreted ourselves in the house and watched as Moran took aim with Van Herder's airgun, the very same as had murdered Adair.
I confess that when Moran sprang up after Holmes's tackle I was both surprised and alarmed. My friend had always been exceptionally strong but now he was easily overpowered by the elderly colonel to the point that Moran was able to half-throttle him. I did not hesitate to strike him on the head with the butt of my revolver with all of my strength. As soon as he went down I fell upon him, and took a fierce pleasure in keeping him down.
Soon the police were streaming in, Lestrade in the lead. Moran paid no attention to the men clapping irons on his wrists. His eyes were fixed upon Holmes's face with an expression in which hatred and amazement were equally blended. "You fiend!" he muttered. "You diabolical fiend! You went over the falls; I watched you with my own eyes. How could you possibly have survived?"
Holmes did not deign to answer that. Instead, he contented himself with making introductions and needling the colonel who kept on muttering, "You diabolical fiend!" even as he was led away.
"Are you worried about what Moran might say?" I asked once we were back in Baker Street.
Holmes had thrown off the seedy frockcoat of the old bookseller and donned his old mouse-colored dressing gown that he removed from his effigy. "Not a bit. Anything he says about Reichenbach only strengths his ties with Moriarty, which he has been loath to do. Besides, who would believe him when I am plainly alive and well?" He flashed me a wry smile that I could not return.
"Are you well?" I asked. The pallor and thinness was one thing but his scars and his speech were another. I had little doubt there were other, more detrimental changes I could not discern.
Holmes turned his attention to the mantle, looking over the bric-a-brac that littered it, from three year old correspondence still affixed to the wood with a dagger to slightly dusty tobacco still in the faded Persian slipper. He paused and picked up the morocco case that I had come to hate. He looked at it as though he had never seen it before, turning it over, snapping it open, and examining the syringe and bottle within.
"Here," said Holmes suddenly, offering me the case and all that it contained. "I neither need it nor want it now."
Slowly I took it and put it into my pocket without looking at it. "Thank you."
"I must ask something of you, Watson."
"Do not publish any more of our cases. I may recant in the future but until then you must not publish another word."
"If you wish it, Holmes, but why?"
My friend draped himself over his chair as bonelessly as a blanket. "I have moved well past my youthful desire for public laudation. My goals are more modest now. I should like to explore other mysteries of the world, other fields of study. Oh, I shall keep my hands in matters of mystery, but I suspect that there may come instances in which I shall find myself more inclined towards mercy than to cold justice. It would be more prudent not to advertise this to the police," he added wryly. "And there is one more thing I must add."
"What is that?"
"I have at times certain lapses in my faculties," Holmes said soberly. "They are not common. They are not severe. But they are most definitely noticeable, at least to me. Perhaps they will be to you as well. My reputation shall ever precede me, but it is a wise man that knows his limits. I plan to accept what work I can while I can. And when the times comes that I can no longer serve my fellow man with my brains, there will be a little cottage in the country waiting for me."
"You have changed," I remarked, taken aback by both his candor and the unexpectedness of his plans.
"In some ways," he agreed, finally smiling. "I am certainly no longer the man who went over the Falls. But I hope I am a man improved by his experiences. Death and re-life have only served to increase my awareness of those interesting little problems which the complex life of London – and the world – so plentifully presents."