Holmes has truthfully said I am not very adept at dissembling, but when Mrs Hudson appeared, demanding to know where the umbrella she had purchased three days earlier was to be found, I attempted to look uncomprehending.
She glared at me. “Dr Watson, don’t try to deny the truth. Where has he gone, and who is he pretending to be this time?”
“Mrs Hudson,” I began. I understand many would say ‘my good woman’ at this point; I may not be a dissembler, but I am not stupid, “I’m sure I can’t say.”
Her gaze went round the room and stopped at young Hopkins, who had called in to take tea. Hopkins flushed bright scarlet. He had clearly been traumatised by his nanny when he was young.
Mrs Hudson turned back to me. “Doctor, I am sure you would not want to put the Inspector in the position where he was forced to either break a confidence or tell a lie, so I shall repeat my question. Where is he?”
I swallowed. To be honest there was little point in trying to hoodwink Mrs Hudson, long experience of Holmes had ensured she would not leave until she had got to the truth. (In fact, rather like Hopkins’ nanny.)
“I can truthfully tell you I do not know where Holmes has gone, or the name he is currently using,” I began. Mrs Hudson snorted. “But he was in religious attire and heading towards one of the fashionable churches in Chelsea.”
Hopkins gave me an agonised look. I shrugged. It wasn’t as if Holmes would be surprised at the turn of events.
“Right,” said Mrs Hudson. “He’d better have said his prayers by the time he gets back.”