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Bearing Up

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Mr. Holmes had been in Ireland for a week when Dr. Watson staggered in, his trouser leg soaked with blood despite the handkerchief bandaging it. If I hadn’t been dusting the hall when he entered I can’t swear I would have known about it at all, he was that determined to gloss over it.

As it was, I gasped and dropped the duster, and he winced and said, “I’m quite all right, Mrs. Hudson. Could you bring up hot water and towels—no, I don’t need help with the stairs, no, truly I don’t.”

Seeing he would not be moved on the subject, I went to the kitchen and turned on the boiler, and sent the boy with a telegram. When I brought the basin and towels upstairs Dr. Watson was sitting down with his medical bag, and I set them on the table in front of him.

“Thank you,” he said, trying to cover his leg where he had cut his trousers off. “It doesn’t even need stitches.”

“What on earth happened, doctor?”

He attempted to look casual. “I was set upon by toughs, that’s all. No point in calling the Yard, as I wouldn’t be able to describe them. They didn’t take anything, and there’s only the one serious wound.”

I nodded at his left arm, where blood was beginning to soak through his coat. He winced. “Two, then. Don’t send for Holmes, it’s nothing serious.”

I already had. “I’ll bring you up a bite to eat,” I told him.