Chapter 15

Some three weeks after the capture of Leander Wolf and his sister Barbel, Gisela Louise Marie, Princess Imperial and Archduchess of Austria, Princess of Hungary and Bohemia, Princess of Bavaria strode up to the door of quite an ordinary looking house on Baker Street. She was let in at once by Mrs. Hudson and was pleased to see how well the house had recovered from her first visit. If she hadn't seen how it had been before, she never would have guessed there had been a fire at all.

Sherlock Holmes was not quite so recovered, but he had returned to his own rooms away from the hospital and Dr. Watson had finally sent her word that Holmes had recovered enough to see her. As she approached the room, however, the noises she heard were not nearly so promising.

"You said you'd accept Dr. Reid's opinion, Holmes, if we allowed it," one voice scolded while another man coughed harshly, "Which means not smoking your pipe until you are well again."

"Never mind, dear chap, our guest is here," the man who was coughing managed to say, the fit apparently over for the moment. Mrs. Hudson let Gisela inside.

Both men looked much better than they had; Holmes even stood at her arrival without any apparent difficulty though he was obviously still ill and gave a small bow.

"Countess Von Kramm."

"Mr. Holmes, Dr. Watson. I hope you are well."

"Much better than I was," Holmes answered, his voice rough and deep, and he motioned for her to take a seat. She did and Mrs. Hudson arrived with a pot of tea which she guaranteed had been brewed by none other than herself and was sure to contain no poisons whatsoever. Holmes started to reply to this when his companion accidently trod over his toe and in the end all that was said were polite words around their tea.

"Countess," Holmes said after all the necessary pleasantries had been covered, "You wish to know the circumstances of your brother's death, and what drove the Wolf siblings to murder."

"I have been speculating on this matter for all these weeks," Gisela agreed, "The only reason I can conclude is that Leander Wolf was one of those…indiscretions which my family worked hard to keep hidden. He could not have been pleased when Rudolf took a mistress."

"The very man depicted in the photograph with your brother and Miss Adler which Miss Adler later destroyed. And I would say he was not pleased with Marie as he was the one who killed her. Rudolf came upon the act and shot at him. Your brother was a passionate man as I recall. In fact, he did hit him, I noted the way in which Wolf favored his arm…much as you do, Watson."

"But how can you know this? Surely that man has not spoken of his crimes!" Gisela exclaimed.

"He hasn't, though Miss Barbel Wolf did admit to administering the poison. She claims she did it at her brother's instructions and had been told it was merely a sedative, meant to put us to sleep so our rooms could be searched. She's lying, of course. She would not have been so careful that the rest of the household were spared, if that were the case. Why she feels such loyalty to her brother, to kill for him, that I cannot say. But as for the events at Mayerling Lodge…the wound to Mr. Wolf's shoulder was easy enough, I observed it myself and later had it confirmed that he was shot at roughly the same time as your brother's death."

"But why do you think it is my brother who shot him? Perhaps they were both set upon by assassins."

"From his own words, I know that he wanted to preserve your brother's name and reputation. He claimed he feared that we had proof of your brothers…indiscretions and he came to destroy it. The two men were certainly close, once. Your brother gave me a snuffbox with a small engraving including the initials 'L.W.' and a wolf's head. A gift from Wolf. Your brother gave it away, to me as it happens."

"My brother loved passionately," Gisela said, not shying away or blushing at what Holmes implied about her brother, "But he also loved often. You believe Mr. Wolf killed Marie out of jealousy and was shot by my brother, though not killed. Did he kill my brother then?"

"Certainly not. He was badly wounded, perhaps he even seemed dead. Marie was most certainly dead. Your brother found himself surrounded by those he loved, dead because of him. I am afraid that the note he then penned was quite genuine."

"So he did kill himself," Gisela said, her expression quite frozen. Holmes said nothing.

"I am sorry," Watson said in the ensuing silence, his expression compassionate.

"Wolf must have come to himself before anyone came upon them and fled. It was a crime of passion and he must have been half dead as he escaped. There were doubtless clues which would have led to him. When your family recognized the truth, they sought to keep it hidden. A man who killed himself with his mistress is a scandal. A man who killed himself after his lover killed is mistress? That could cause ruin."

"It could." Gisela stared at the two men.

"We have promised our silence," Watson said, "Not a word of this will be shared."

"I can see that you are not men who would wish to tell stories about lovers," she said. The doctor looked confused for a moment before his eyes widened, but before he could speak on what she had said, Holmes continued his story.

"Wolf thought he had escaped detection. I believe he truly did wish to keep Rudolf's name untarnished. And then one day he read an account about a King of Bohemia. Like yourself, he recognized Rudolf at once. And he recognized the photograph. He feared, not only that the truth about that photo might still come out, not believing Watson's report that it was destroyed in the end, but that if it was revealed then his part in your brother's death and that of his mistress might come to light."

"He sounds quite insane," Gisela remarked.

"Yes. But you can be assured of his silence as well; his desire to keep your brother's name unsoiled seems to be genuine. And if he does decide to share…it is the ranting of a madman facing the hangman's noose."

Then Holmes, who had appeared quite strong during the telling, suddenly broke down into a harsh coughing fit. Watson saw Gisela out, promising again that they had left out many of the details when they had given their report to Lestrade. At the door, Watson couldn't quite stop himself from saying, "I am married, you know."

"Yes," Gisela agreed, smiling kindly, "So was my brother." And before Watson could make any reply to that, she pressed a purse into his hand, 'for your services', and left.

"I see she is as generous as her brother," Holmes said as Watson returned. Holmes looked greatly improved for a man who had managed to sound deathly ill moments before. Watson frowned at him.

"You did not have to give her quite so many details," he said, "This was about the death of her brother."

"She knew quite well what her brother was and would not have thanked me to give her the same edited version we gave Lestrade," Holmes answered. He was holding his pipe and twirling it thoughtfully. Watson glared at the pipe but said nothing, not even to remind Holmes he had promised to rest. Watson might have been his doctor but he wasn't his keeper, no matter how much he thought Holmes needed one sometimes.

"I am resting," Holmes said anyway, "So you can stop thinking so sternly at me. It is not even lit." Watson made no comment to that but sat down with his journal. Just because he did not intend to publish this case didn't mean he didn't want to jot down all the relevant facts.

"Holmes," he said after he had taken his initial notes, "I do have one question."

"Yes?"

"When did Rudolf give you the snuff case? He didn't…he wasn't…"

"Yes?"

"…never mind." Watson continued to write.

"Watson?" Holmes intruded upon the silence this time and Watson set his pen aside. "What did happen to Gladstone?"

"He was buried, Holmes," Watson answered, looking on Holmes with some concern. Surely he did remember that the dog had died?

"Yes, of course…but where?" Watson studied his friend. Despite Holmes's attempt at casual disinterest, there was something vulnerable about his posture.

"In the garden, beneath the new rosebush."

"Ah. Yes. Thank you. I may have to see it…sometime. I suppose we will be getting a new animal?"

"You might," Watson agreed, cautiously, "It's what people generally do." There was a longer moment of silence during which Holmes read an article to himself and Watson continued to write. Something about the way Holmes was acting, however, entirely too innocent, was playing at Watson.

"Holmes, what are you reading?" he asked at last, trying to decide what it was. Holmes should probably have been in bed, but that wasn't quite it. He was sitting quietly after all, and though he held his pipe in his mouth, it wasn't lit.

"Oh…just something on decomposing. An article I missed while I was…out."

"Ah."

There was another moment of silence. Then Watson frowned. "Holmes, you are not digging up the dog for an experiment."

"I never did get to say goodbye, as I was almost dying at the time," Holmes remarked plaintively.

"You can speak to his graveside."

"A rosebush, you mean."

"You are not digging up Mrs. Hudson's garden, Holmes."

Thus ends the case of the Mayerling Lodge Incident, otherwise known as the case of the dead dog.

The End

Author's Note: Alright…so considering this is basically the final chapter of the story I really should have gotten this done months and months ago. The difficulty is that I usually have troubles with the last chapter. Everything that is going to happen already has and I'm left with tying up loose ends and, in this case, explaining the details surrounding a mystery that is already more or less solved except in the particulars of why. Which isn't nearly as interesting to write as the rest of the story because the story is already told and the passion tends to leave me for a story once I reach this point. And then I got sucked into the Sherlock fandom, and despite it being practically the same thing…it still isn't. However, I have finally decided that enough is enough, there is only really one last chapter to put into this story, and I had better just get it done. (also, I just thought I might mention that I wrote this before Sherlock came out. Choosing the name 'Anderson' for one of Lestrade's men was coincidental). So this is me…getting it done. Hopefully my style won't have suffered too much from being away from this genre for so long.