a/n: a slightly different approach to "The Adventure of the Speckled Band". Contains spoilers for that story
Holmes and companions do not belong to me.
Thanks again to Stutley Constable for technical support :)
POV of Watson.
A Singular Case: part 3
...as he faced the worst of perils,
I'd be standing at his side...
Seconds... minutes... hours... passed slowly,
As we stood and watched and waited.
Lamplights one by one extinguished;
Stoke Moran was in the dark.
Then, at last, a lone light flickered
From that middle bedroom window;
Time to start our sombre errand;
Make our way across the park.
Through the manor grounds in darkness;
Past the trees towards our beacon;
Startled by a darting figure;
Hideous, distorted child.
Holmes was just as agitated
By this writhing, dancing creature;
Till he laughed, then whispered softly;
Pet baboon was running wild.
In we climbed through open window,
Watching out for prowling cheetahs.
Noiselessly, Holmes closed the shutters,
Cast his eyes around the room.
Holmes, with long thin cane beside him,
Settled on the narrow bedstead.
I sat down on chair in corner;
Nothing could dispel the gloom.
Thus began our long night's vigil;
One which would not be forgotten;
Night-birds calling in the distance,
And the cheetah's cat-like whine.
Parish clock chimed out the quarters,
Blackness filled the room completely,
Every creak seemed fraught with danger,
Icy chills ran up the spine.
Light which in an instant vanished;
Scent of oil and burning metal;
Features of a burning lantern;
Shaded dark; no friendly gleam.
Then, the faintest sound of movement,
Nothing more for thirty minutes,
Followed by a gentle hissing,
Like a kettle's jet of steam.
Instantly; a whirl of action!
Holmes sprang up, with cane, in fury.
Lit a match and lashed the bell-pull;
Horror-struck, and pale as death.
Sudden flare impaired my vision;
Could not see what Holmes was striking;
Heard a soft and low-pitched whistle;
Gasped, and paused to catch my breath.
Silence; then the peace was broken;
Shattered by a dreadful shrieking.
Pain and helpless fear and anger,
Mingled in one awful cry.
Noise which roused the sleeping village;
Froze the blood and chilled the marrow;
Rooted to the spot, I listened;
Heard the final echoes die.
As that final echo faded,
Holmes declared our task was over.
I had failed to grasp his meaning;
Still I did not understand.
I followed Holmes to Roylott's chamber;
Saw him seated by the table;
Rigid stare fixed high on ceiling;
Round his brow: a yellow band!
"That's the speckled band", Holmes whispered,
"Roylott must have died in seconds."
Band became a loathsome adder,
Rearing up among his hair.
Holmes while speaking, drew the dog leash,
Threw the noose around the reptile;
Flung it in the safe and locked it;
Serpent back in serpent's lair.
Violence often strikes the violent;
Schemes will often trap the schemer;
Thus the death of Doctor Roylott
Seemed an apt and fitting fate.
We returned by train to London,
Having left our grateful client
With her kindly aunt in Harrow;
Cause, I think, to celebrate.
Leg now stiff, I change position;
Pick the poker up to study;
Subtle curve which can't be straightened;
Cracks from metal, stressed, are clear.
What about our erstwhile client?
Thanks to Holmes, she has a future.
But, force applied will leave some damage.
Scars don't simply disappear.