Not two weeks after her wedding, Mary Morstan Watson had admitted to herself that she had married a difficult man. Not that John Watson himself was difficult. He wasn’t. He was a lovely man and she knew she was lucky to have made such a match. They had not even had their first spat. She did not think they would ever have one.
Because he was never home.
This was, she realized now, the lot of most physician’s wives, particularly if their husbands were not consultants. There was no end of people needing a doctor in London. If it wasn’t catarrh, it was the measles. If not the measles, then lumbago. Or gout. Or brain fever. Or malaria, brought back from some faraway army post. Or a baby. Heavens, always the babies! If she had a baby, she would at least have something to occupy herself.
And if it wasn’t any of those, it was Sherlock Holmes
Not that she didn’t like Mr. Holmes. She did. He was always courteous to her; he appreciated her mind and capabilities in ways that she was not sure her own husband did. He even occasionally asked if it would be a hardship to her if he “borrowed” her husband for one of his cases. It was thoughtful of him to be sure, but what was she going to say? “No?” She did, one time, protest that it was her birthday, but having a husband slouching about with the eyes of a wounded puppy was not exactly conducive to celebration.
So she did charitable work. She made friends. She went visiting. Aunts, friends, the Forresters. Once, as a bit of a test, she told John she was going to visit her mother, just to see what he would say (she was, of course, an orphan). He bade her have a good journey, and went off on another jaunt with Holmes, staying over in Baker street. She went to Brighton with Dr. Anstruther’s wife; they had drunk too much sherry and flirted outrageously with strange men in the hotel. Holmes gave her an odd look when he visited the next time. He had obviously never said a word to Watson about her “mother.” She wondered what he thought she had been doing.
Some doctors played golf. Hers solved crimes. Ah, well.
And there he was, tromping up the stairs. He’d closed up his consulting room early. Holmes must need him for something. Well, she had a new novel. Margaret Anstruther had loaned it to her; supposedly the hero, James, was a man to dream of.
“Are you done so early, John?” she said as he came into the parlor and collapsed into his chair by the fire.
“Yes, for once! It will be nice to have some quiet before the fire after all of the coughing and complaining today!”
“Have you heard anything from Mr. Holmes?”
“No. Why? Has he called? Sent a telegram?” His eyes were suddenly bright.
“No. Nothing. Perhaps he has gone to visit his family.” She brought him a tumbler of whisky with a little soda, which he accepted with a smile.
“I can’t imagine that.”
“Well, it is Christmas Eve, John.” She reached into her writing desk, pulling out a prettily-wrapped box. She’d gone to Gamadge’s last week.
“Chris–” He looked down at the box, up at her, down again, up…. “Oh, my darling, I completely–how–how could I forget Christmas, of all things?”
She laughed. She was, after all, a doctor’s wife. Eventually, it all became funny, if you let it.
“That’s all right, John.” She put the present down, went to sit on his lap. He put his arm around her, brought her in for a whisky-soaked kiss.
“It’s quite all right, my love,” she said again. “All I want for Christmas is you.”
And to show how very sorry I am, here’s today’s prize–the latest pastiche from Bonnie MacBird, due out in March, 2021.
Obviously this book will be a pre-order, which you should receive on its publication date, depending upon where you live (later, if not in the US or Canada). To enter the drawing for this prize, please send in your answer to this question–
Mary Morstan was a governess before her marriage, and there are several governess characters in the Canon. What real-life connections in Conan Doyle’s life might explain this?
As always, send in your answer via blog comment, or message me on the Well-Read Sherlockian FB page.
Happy boxing day!