"We all have appointments with the past."
I had just returned from a fortnight away, my annual holiday, when I decided to call on him. I had not seen him in several months, so was wholeheartedly curious, and filled with some trepidation, to discover the current state of both his mental and physical faculties.
Baker Street was as bustling as ever as I called at that oh-so-familiar 221. Mrs. Hudson kindly greeted me at the door and directed me up, knowing full well I didn’t want nor need to be announced nor directed to the upstairs flat.
I found him pacing, as he often did when he was on a case, with his gaze fixed downward, no doubt studying the minute movements of some as yet unseen arachnid or similar creature. The scent of pungent incense hung in the air, certainly designed to conceal from Mrs. Hudson some far fouler stench.
“Good evening, Holmes.”
“My apologies if I am disturbing you, but I have just returned from…”
“Shhhh!!”, he muttered.
“Er… holidays… er… .sorry”, I stammered.
He paused in his pacing, looked up, and studied me but for a moment. “How was Greece?” he asked.
.”Now how the devil did you surmise I’d been to Greece? Wait, is it the slight smell of some Athenian spice, emanating from my clothes? The particular tanning of my complexion, indicative of Aegean latitudes? Or some other subtle tell?”
A hint of a smile appeared on Holmes’ gaunt chiseled face. “No, no, no, my dear doctor. Nothing quite so cerebral.”
He suddenly presented a card, which he must have subtly palmed off the table as he’d paced by. “Mary sent me a postcard from the two of you, from Athens.”
We both chuckled at this.
“Watson, I… we… have a case.” He began. “I was visited this afternoon by Reverend Edward Cussler, Vicar of Saint Sepulchres, in Snow Hill. It seems his daughter, Abigail, has disappeared and he is quite concerned for her well-being.”
It had been too long since we’d last worked together, so a part of me was quite eager to assist in his efforts, while another part of me was conscious that I had a wife waiting for me at home. “Where shall we start?” I heard myself say. “What additional information were you able to glean from the Vicar?”
Holmes’ smile broadened, “The game’s afoot, Watson. We’ll start by visiting The Holbrook hotel, on Holborn Viaduct, I should think”.
Reverend Cussler had relayed to Holmes that his daughter had been less than fully communicative of late.
He knew little of her current routine but did recall, from his last conversation with her, that she was quite excited about her new job. She’d recently been employed as a chambermaid at a nearby hotel, The Holbrook.
Holmes and I went there straight away and were able to question the hotel’s manager, who in turn arranged for us to speak with some of Abigail’s colleagues. Our interviews assisted us in garnering further information about her comings and goings, most strikingly, that she was a frequent rider on the Snow Hill Omnibus. I knew where Holmes would be leading us next.
As we emerged from the hotel, onto busy Holborn Viaduct, we swiftly leapt onto the nearest conveyance we could find, a Clarence carriage just passing by the hotel's entrance. Little did we know at the time that the forces of no less than three rather nefarious organizations were playing out their own little dramas, just blocks away.
We would learn later, by way of a visit by Lastrade, that the Brick Lane Commune had launched a daring raid on the local constabulary, apparently to nick the police jail wagon, no doubt in an attempt at giving it what for to the "Establishment". Fortunately, Lastrade and his men were there to try and foil their ne'er-do-well efforts, with decidedly mixed results...
At the same time, and in the same area, the local Commune headquarters was raided by members of the wicked Servants of Wubakhamun, that dark, dastardly, cult of the ancient, craven, Elbonian Pharaoh. They had apparently been looking to rob the local coffers of the Commune, while simultaneously defending the entrance to their catacombs from member's of Professor Moriarty's criminal cabal.
Amazingly, Holmes and I found our route to and from the Holbrook unimpeded, having half expected Moriarty and his men to be of some nuisance and to have posed some obstacle to our investigative efforts, as is the custom of the mischievous and malevolent Professor.
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