Holmes' sense of direction and in-depth knowledge of London's mazelike series of streets and byways often astonished me. There were parts of London where I am certain there were no accurate maps of the mews, passageways, tunnels, and alleys recorded anywhere except somewhere inside of my friend's head. The portion of his brain-attic devoted to this intimate knowledge of London's secret places must be immense. He rarely ever put a foot wrong.
"We've lost him, Holmes."
"I'm aware of that, thank you, Watson."
"Any idea how to get back to Lestrade and his men?"
"Not at the moment, no."
"Good Heavens, Holmes!"
I threw down my newspaper and leaped to my feet at the appalling sight at our sitting-room threshold. Holmes' normally neat, prim clothing was torn and stained, and his coat was missing entirely. One shirt-sleeve was largely ripped away, and the other was spattered with what looked like bloodstains. A rivulet of blood streaked his forehead, and his right eye was nearly swelled shut.
His left eye, however, twinkled at me, and his lips curved upwards.
"My apologies for my dishabille and for alarming you, Watson. But as the saying goes, you should see the other fellow."
"I really don't see why this is necessary."
"And yet you claim to be the most observant man in London."
"I am. Well, the second-most observant man, to be absolutely factual about it."
"The second - ? No, never mind. I refuse to be distracted. As a highly observant man, surely you can deduce the necessity of this action."
"Just because I've broken another of Mrs. Hudson's teapots hardly means I am obliged to buy her a silver one."
"It was the seventh in six weeks. If we want to remain at 221B, silver is an absolute necessity. And flowers."
The minister droned on interminably. I shifted restlessly in my seat.
"…while the abbreviation of any life is a cause for grief, it seems doubly so when a man who did such good in the world is cut down in his prime. But let us not dwell on the abridgement of his days. Instead, let us rejoice in his accomplishments, and comfort ourselves in the knowledge that he now resides in the love and peace of God…"
I glanced aside automatically to see Holmes' doubtlessly-ironic reaction.
He wasn't there, of course. Would never be there again.
Mary squeezed my arm.
"Are you all right, Watson?"
"A little bruised, perhaps, but otherwise I'm well enough, Holmes. Aside from being tied up and locked in a cellar, that is."
"I'll have you free in a moment. I must say, I was extremely surprised to see you brought in like that. I would have thought that your combat experience would have left you more wary of them."
"Them, yes. Not her. I was hardly expecting Miss Donovan to produce a pistol from under her corset."
"Ah, Watson. Always the gentleman, even to your detriment."