Watson was still not entirely sure how Holmes had pulled it off. Holmes said it was because he read the papers, every word, every day, and was able to deduce who had placed the ad. Watson thought it had more to do with the same sort of alchemy that enabled his friend to summon cabs at will.
It had begun on an inauspicious, cloudy afternoon in November of 1889. The day had been a quiet one, and Watson was more than happy to abandon his office in response to one of Holmes’s cryptic telegrams. “Watson. Tying up two loose ends. Need your help. SH”
Two loose ends. What cases could those be? Perhaps something with “The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter.” Watson had always thought that case had ended too conveniently. Or perhaps the Agra treasure had been fished out of the Thames. That would be a pleasant surprise. He didn’t think Mary would object to a little bump-up in their address now. Perhaps he could start his own pharmacy…..
Watson spent so much time “spending” in his imagination that he walked past 221 and only realized his mistake when he found himself at the entrance to Regent’s Park. Retracing his steps, he wondered if Mary would want her pearls set, or if they could pay for a coach. Much nicer for housecalls on dark, rainy nights, that would be. So it was that he was actually a bit disappointed to enter the parlor of 221B and not find a heap of gold and shiny baubles on the deal table. Instead, he saw, waiting in the basket chair, none other but Mary Sutherland, dressed–overdressed, rather–in what she must assume was the height of fashion for the season. Watson tried not to shudder a bit when he took her hand in greeting. He knew he was being unfair, but his mother had been a dressmaker, and he noticed things. She had a large satchel with her. Watson hoped her parents were not being difficult again.
“Ah, Watson!” Holmes said, rising from his own chair,”How good of you to come! Miss Sutherland has just arrived in response to my summons. I believe she can be of some assistance in solving a problem for a former client.”
“I’m sure I don’t know how, Mr. Holmes,” Mary said “Lord knows I’ve got no detective skills,” she laughed, a little ruefully.
That’s for certain, Watson thought. Although Holmes’s later deduction that the woman might actually be suffering from prosopagnosia made sense in the light of her case.*
“Oh, I have no doubt that you have just the skills our client is looking for,” Holmes reassured her. “In fact, I hear him on the stair now.”
At this point, Watson was hoping Latimer and Kemp had indeed conveniently perished in Budapest. He did not think Mary Sutherland would be much help in another battle with those two. He was relieved, if puzzled, to see that the former client was Victor Hatherly, he of the missing thumb. Watson stole a quick glance at the man’s hand; he was pleased to see that all had healed nicely.
Holmes was making introductions. “Miss Sutherland, I would like you to meet Victor Hatherly, a gifted hydraulic engineer with offices in Victoria street. Mr. Hatherly, may I present Mary Sutherland, one of the finest typists in the city.”
“Why, I am in need of a typist, Mr. Holmes!” Hatherly exclaimed.
Miss Sutherland smiled at him brightly and patted her satchel. “As it turns out, I have some samples of my work with me, Mr. Hatherly.”
“Splendid!” Holmes said, clapping his hands together. “Then you might wish to interview Miss Sutherland here in our parlor, Mr. Hatherly. Watson and I will just step out to see if Mrs. Hudson can provide us with some tea.”
Mrs. Hudson fairly burst out of her sitting room, tray of tea and biscuits in hand. “D’ye think it will work, Mr. Holmes,” she said eagerly.
“Time will tell, Mrs. Hudson. Time will tell.”
“If what will work, Holmes?” Watson was missing something, he was sure of it. “Did you really call the two of them to Baker street because Hatherly needs a typist?”
Mrs. Hudson hmmph‘d at this.
“Oh, Watson!” Holmes laughed, “And to think I’ve accused you of being a romantic!”
Now it was the day after Christmas, and he and Mary were getting dressed for a wedding, to be held at St. Patrick’s this morning; St. Patrick was the patron saint of engineers, after all.
“To think that the worst moments of their lives ended up bringing them together,” Mary said, reaching up to straighten his cravat. “Just like us, my love.”
Watson bent down to give her a kiss. “Not the worst moments my love,” he said, “but the best friend.”
And today’s question?
How did the German woman who warned Hatherly to leave know that he was in danger?
I was actually surprised to find that I had another one of these on my shelf. I think that Mary Sutherland would appreciate it, don’t you?
As always, to enter, submit your answer to today’s question via blog comment or by messaging the Well Read Sherlockian FB page! Thanks so much for playing!
*Prosopagnosia is the inability to recognise faces, also known as “face blindness.” If Mary Sutherland suffered from even a mild form of this, it would not have been very difficult for “Hosmer Angel” to fool her.
Congratulations to Kristin Franseen! She knew that Shinwell Johnson, once a “very dangerous villain” used his reputation to gain entrée into all of the night-clubs, etc. of London, to spy for Sherlock Holmes. However, Watson says, because none of the cases Holmes used him in actually ended up with the perpetrator in court, none of his sources were the wiser as to what he was up to.