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Holmes’ most recent case had taken the better part of three months, and by the end, even my indomitable friend’s spirits were exhausted. The sad culmination, in particular, weighed heavily on him, even though his actions prevented an even greater tragedy. Usually adverse to an idea of a holiday, it took little convincing on my part to get him to agree to a short trip to a quiet lakeside hotel known equally for its comforts and for the privacy of its guests.

It was with some dismay, therefore, that I recognized the gleam in the manager’s eye when he greeted my friend and made reference to his profession. I knew that look well; both anxious and excited, the demeanour of a man with a confounding problem to set in front of the one man they thought could solve it.

“We are honoured to have you as a guest,” the man said. “And it just so happens that your arrival coincides with a most perplexing matter that might be of interest. Normally I would never mention such a thing to a guest, but your reputation is such that I feel confident in bringing this puzzle to your attention, the same way I might point out one of our refreshing lakeside trails to an avid walker.”

Holmes’ countenance is inscrutable to most, even usually to me. But on this occasion, I caught the briefest glimpse of his inner self. My friend was tired. He did not wish for a case, not now. For a moment, I even thought he might decline hearing about the manager’s matter.

But reputation is a powerful thing, as is pride. My friend’s thin lips set, and the usual cool mask fell into place. “Watson, this resort of yours is proving a success already. Just give us a few minutes to settle our things in our rooms, and then, good sir, I shall be entirely at your disposal.”