"What is the matter with you, Holmes?" I could not account for his irritability. "It must be something serious to put you in a black mood while Moriarty stands trial."

He glared at me. "If you must know, I am frustrated that in confronting my worst foe, I failed."


"I pride myself on my observation of details, and yet I overlooked so many. I did not even know about his second in command!"

"But you captured them both in the end."

"Yes, but it is galling to think that I could have saved both of us a grueling three days if only I had been a better detective. If I had realized that Moriarty had a powerful lieutenant, if I had seen through that farce at the tobacconist's—If I had observed! This case is my crowning achievement, and I was inept. We might have awaited the arrests in our flat, or even gone to the continent for a week or two. I might have apprehended Moriarty personally, instead of rescuing you while some constable did the honors! "

I chose not to be offended by his last statement. Instead, I settled back and opened the evening paper, "My dear Holmes, life is contingent on so many details. It is probably useless to ask what might have been."