It was December of 1881, several months after the successful conclusion of the events I have since narrated as "A Study in Scarlet," and Sherlock Holmes and I were lounging by the fire, both unemployed and very bored. He reclined in his chair, a pipe hanging out of his mouth, his feet on the ottoman, and his eyes closed, completely surrendered to ennui. I, on the other hand, was at least attempting to occupy my mind. I was rereading my favorite novels, particularly the ones I had collected in serial form. I had just come to the end of an installment dated September 1870. I threw down the much-thumbed magazine with a sigh, as I had so many times since I first learned that it would never be followed up. I admired the author immensely, and was still unreasonably disgusted that he had left this story—the first of his works that I had been buying monthly myself, no less!—unfinished.

"Why couldn't he have finished it!" I huffed.

"There are many reasons for not finishing a narrative, doctor. Particularly one of…Ah!" (he had opened one eye to peer at the cover of the magazine now lying on the floor) "a mystery, I perceive." And he sat up, suddenly alert. "Perhaps the perpetrator of the crime has blackmailed…" He looked again at the cover "…Mr. Charles Dickens not to finish it. Perhaps Mr. Dickens was still investigating the mystery when he began writing and has since lost the scent. Perhaps…"

"Holmes, he's dead."

"Oh." He slumped back in disappointment. "Then why did you ask? You know full well why he did not finish it."

"I wasn't looking for an answer; I was just complaining."

He shot me an irritated look, but after a moment straightened up again, the thrill of the chase rekindled in his eyes. "Now that you have brought it to my attention, perhaps I can help you. The fact that Mr. Dickens is dead is itself suspicious. Perhaps the culprit in this mystery—the murder of Edwin Drood, I assume?—killed him to silence him! Here, let me read it and I'll solve it myself. Justice must not be thwarted!"

At this grandiose statement I burst into laughter. "Holmes! I know you don't keep up with modern literature, but do you honestly not know that Charles Dickens was a famous novelist who died of natural causes about ten years ago? This is a work of fiction!"

He never liked to be laughed at, and he was obviously disgusted that this was not a new case for him, so he turned away from me pointedly. "If it is fiction, then it is of no consequence to me. Finish it yourself! Don't bother me with your absurd complaints." With that he settled back in his chair and closed his eyes.

I stared at him for a few moments, torn between annoyance and amusement. "I'm a doctor, not a writer!" I muttered as I got up to find another book.