There comes a time in every man's life—particularly if that man is a close associate of Mr. Sherlock Holmes—when he wishes that his every move were not deduced, revealed, and then summarily dismissed as triviality by the great consulting detective. That time had come for me in August of 1901.

As I opened the door to our shared sitting room that rainy August afternoon, I found Holmes lounging on the settee with a pipe in his mouth. He opened one eye to glance at me, closed it, and suddenly opened both to stare in surprise.

"My dear fellow, where have you been?" He closed his eyes again with a forced air of indifference.

"I should think you could tell me."


"I said, 'You tell me.'"

"Oh, yes. Well, I have no energy for trifles right now"

"You have another case?"


"What case is that?"

"The one I've been working on. Do be quiet, old boy. I cannot concentrate."

I grinned as I placed my damp shoes near the fire and left the room. As I shut the door, I heard him leap up and stride toward the fireplace.

I pulled out a notebook, and scribbled a telegram to Mycroft Holmes.

"Holmes at a loss. When shall I tell him you collected dirt from Switzerland, India, and Bolivia?"