"Good morning, Holmes," said I, wrinkling up my nose and sniffing the air around me in some consternation. "What on earth is that peculiar smell?"
I had just entered our sitting-room upon my return from collecting the morning paper from the newsagent on the corner of Baker Street. Holmes was already sitting at the breakfast table with his coffee cup. He looked at me now, and blinked and sniffed cautiously.
"I can smell nothing," he replied. "What exactly is it that you can detect? A good morning to you too, by the way."
"It is most pungent," I said, wafting my arms around in an attempt to disperse the whiff. "A heady combination of rose petals and Turkish Delight. Has a woman visited in here during my short absence, Holmes?"
Holmes tutted. "Don't be ridiculous, Watson, you have been gone barely 10 minutes. It would take a female almost half that time simply to climb the seventeen steps up to here, what with all their ridiculous froufrou skirts tangling around their ankles. And then twice that time again simply to introduce themselves and tell me what a lovely morning it is today - as if I couldn't possibly fathom that fact out for myself. Women waste so much time simply talking about little and everything. If I had been born as one I feel certain that I would have gone insane at the sound of myself by now. So, no. No woman has been here, and I have not the slightest idea as to what has gotten under your nostrils this morning, my dear chap."
I frowned, and began to circle the room, sniffing as a foxhound as I went. Holmes scowled at me and sipped on his coffee.
"Give me the paper," said he, "on your next circuit around which comes closest to the table."
I doubled back and deposited the newspaper upon the table next to my friend's elbow. I sniffed in a sudden alarm.
"Holmes!" I exclaimed, "It is you!"
"Of course it is me," he said with a degree of irritation, "I have always been me, for as long as I can remember."
"No," said I. "I mean, this curious scent - it is coming from you."
"It most certainly is not."
"I am most deeply afraid that it is, Holmes."
Holmes sniffed around himself, lifted a sleeve, inhaled, and exhaled with a huff. He frowned.
"Oh," he said.
"Holmes, whatever have you been doing?"
"I… had a bath this morning," he said carefully.
I sat down opposite my friend, and looked at him in all seriousness.
"You quite often take a bath first thing of a morning. It has never had such a malodorous effect on you before. Was that all?"
Holmes gritted his teeth. "I may have lotioned my elbows a little."
"Lotioned your elbows?"
"It smells as though you lotioned considerably more than your elbows, Holmes. Did you trip and fall in the ghastly stuff?"
Holmes jumped up from his chair and flung himself across to the opposite side of the room, whereupon he assumed an injured air and cast about busily for a cigarette. The ensuing waft was almost as much as my sinuses could bear, but I bravely bore the brunt of the assault with only the smallest wince. I was quite bewildered as to my friend's behaviour this morning. Over the years I had grown accustomed to his numerous eccentricities of habit and peculiarities of demeanour, but this was an entirely new contender.
"I am going to open a window, Holmes," I said, and made to do so. I heard an agitated sigh behind me, and a further waft flashed past as it grabbed at its coffee cup.
"You are over-reacting quite horrendously, Watson," said the waft.
I took a breath of cool air before turning around once more into the room.
"Please talk to me," I said, plaintively.
"I applied a lotion after my morning bath. I thought that it would be a pleasant thing to do." Holmes paused momentarily, gallantly ignoring my thoughtless snort before continuing with the minutest toss of his head. "One's elbows do get to feeling quite… rough, occasionally. The lotion was soothing. I may have gotten carried away."
"You applied ladies' scented moisturising lotion to yourself from head to foot, and did not stop to consider the possible consequences?"
"It is not for ladies," Holmes retorted, his voice rising ever higher as his agitation grew. "It is a gentleman's lotion."
I could not help but begin to laugh. Holmes regarded me with the utmost aggrievement, which only made me laugh all the harder. My shoulders shook; I grasped the back of the chair to steady myself.
"A gentleman's lotion should not smell of roses or Turkish Delight, Holmes, old fellow. I should very much like to see the bottle in question, if you would not object?"
"I would, and do, object," said Holmes, quite churlish now. I did my best not to burst into a renewed fit of laughter. I found myself scrutinising my friend as he sipped furiously at his coffee, searching for evidence of any other new or unusual enhancements to his person. He glared at me.
"It is better, at any rate, than smelling of cabbages or horse manure," he muttered, almost to himself. "I suppose if I went outside and rolled around in the gutters for five minutes before coming back upstairs, that would appease you?"
"Not remotely, Holmes. I am sure that the scent will fade over the next hour or two. If we can just keep you away from anyone and everything with sensitive nostrils for that period of time, we should be fine. Did you happen to apply anything else?"
"I may have added a dab of the accompanying cologne."
My hand involuntarily clamped itself to my forehead in disbelief.
"You added a rose and Turkish Delight scented cologne on top of the rose and Turkish Delight scented ladies' moisturising lotion, and you thought that this would be a good idea how, exactly?"
"No, no, no!" Holmes stamped his foot. "It is not a ladies' lotion. Oh - I am quite tired of this, I am going to take another bath."
"Very well," said I, as Holmes stormed in the direction of the door. "I do hope that it is not with a tablet of rose and Turkish Delight scented soap, otherwise this saga will continue all day."
Thirty minutes later, Holmes emerged from his bedroom, pink in the face and by now surely very clean. He sat down at the table once more. He eyed me defiantly as if to dare me to pass negative comment.
"I am happy to inform you that you no longer smell like either a florists or a confectioners, Holmes," said I, applauding him. He fought back a wry smile.
"I will not make that mistake again," said he, "and I may never eat another Turkish Delight in the future without blanching."
"Why should you want to, when you are quite sweet enough already," I chortled.
I managed to dodge the heavy armchair cushion launched squarely at my head by only the very narrowest of margins.