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Decoding the Subtext: The Empty House

Dates:

Baring-Gould dates The Empty House in April of 1894. Given that Watson tells us that it is an April evening in the spring of 1894, we have no reason to question Baring-Gould's date. The story was first published in September/October of 1903.

Synopsis:

The Adventure of the Empty House marks the dramatic return of Sherlock Holmes from the long hiatus which followed his death at Reichenbach Falls in the spring of 1891. Dr. John Watson, still grieving the loss of his friend, takes an interest in the mysterious murder of Ronald Adair, but he soon discovers that he is not the only one following the case. His interest in discovering Adair's killer is temporarily forgotten when Watson, seated in his consulting room, finds himself face to face with none other than his long-time friend and companion, Sherlock Holmes. After a brief explanation from Holmes regarding what actually occurred between him and Moriarty, Holmes and Watson find themselves completing a task that began three years prior; Holmes assuming the role of hunter as they take down the last of Moriarty's gang.

The Subtext:

Before we begin with the story itself, we must first examine its place in the chronology, for it is within the chronology that we find our most suggestive elements.

Recall that Holmes first disappeared in the spring of 1891, and that Watson first wrote of his disappearance in The Final Problem, which was published in December of 1893. Some four months later, in April of 1894, Holmes returns, and yet Watson waits ten years before publishing the events surrounding Holmes' return. While Watson has suggested that he was obeying Holmes' command, what is curious here is that Watson's return to writing corresponds exactly with Holmes' retirement.

In decoding The Final Problem, we noted that Watson spent the Great Hiatus documenting Holmes' cases, which he published in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. We noted, too, that Watson's seeming obsession with publishing Holmes' cases stemmed from Watson's own personal grief (and his inability to recover from Holmes' death).

It is unsurprising, then, that Watson is coping with Holmes' absence (i.e. his retirement) by once again engrossing himself with the consuming task of publishing Holmes' cases. Clearly Watson is unable to live without his Holmes. In fact, one can easily imagine that, with Holmes' retreat to Sussex and bee-keeping, Watson needed something to fill the void Holmes' leaving created.

The crime was of interest in itself, but that interest was as nothing to me compared to the inconceivable sequel, which afforded me the greatest shock and surprise of any event in my adventurous life. Even now, after this long interval, I find myself thrilling as I think of it, and feeling once more that sudden flood of joy, amazement, and incredulity which utterly submerged my mind.

Here we are, ten years after the event occurred, and one cannot help but note the vivid clarity of Watson's statement. That, after all this time, Watson can still conjure this imagine (and, indeed, emotion) and can still name Holmes' return as the greatest shock and surprise of his life is quite remarkable.

Although, perhaps not as remarkable as the statement itself. Here Watson speaks of his joy, amazement and incredulity; of the thrill that has persisted an entire decade. One can easily imagine that Holmes' return marked a drastic change in their relationship. Prior to Holmes' leaving, we had seen the build up of their friendship, the rise of their close intimacy, and then the retreat of their relations corresponding with Watson's marriage.

We next saw their reunion, corresponding with Watson and Mary's separation, and then the collapse of their intimacy as Watson and Mary attempted to reconcile. The Final Problem brought us Holmes' leaving, and Watson's grief. The Empty House brings us Holmes' dramatic return, and we cannot doubt that this return likely corresponded with a renewal of the intimacy which once defined Holmes and Watson's relationship.

It can be imagined that my close intimacy with Sherlock Holmes had interested me deeply in crime, and that after his disappearance I never failed to read with care the various problems which came before the public.

Watson later speaks to his sad bereavement, and it is implied that this corresponds with Mary's passing (although your author has suggested a divorce is also quite possible). We know, then, that Mary's presence in Watson's life ceased to exist at some point between Holmes' death and Holmes' return. We know, too, that Watson has spent Holmes' absence documenting Holmes' cases. Here, Watson admits to following various crimes and attempting to work them out for himself. It becomes evident, then, that, despite a dying wife (or marital difficulties), a consuming practice, and a demanding writing career, Watson felt the need to fill his hours with work that reminded him of Holmes. Clearly, this lends additional weight to the theory that Watson was unable (unwilling, even) to recover from Holmes' death.

Watson then goes on to tell us of his latest case of interest, making several references to the appeal the case would have held for Holmes. Three years after Holmes' death, and still Watson pines.

This brings us, of course, to Holmes and Watson's first meeting. Watson has arrived at the scene of the crime, and is attempting to gather information. A crowd has gathered, and in its jostling, Watson finds himself colliding with an elderly book collector.

As I did so I struck against an elderly, deformed man, who had been behind me, and I knocked down several books which he was carrying. I remember that as I picked them up, I observed the title of one of them, The Origin of Tree Worship, and it struck me that the fellow must be some poor bibliophile, who, either as a trade or as a hobby, was a collector of obscure volumes. I endeavoured to apologize for the accident, but it was evident that these books which I had so unfortunately maltreated were very precious objects in the eyes of their owner. With a snarl of contempt he turned upon his heel, and I saw his curved back and white side-whiskers disappear among the throng.

While Watson is not yet aware that this man is Holmes in disguise, we cannot doubt that Holmes knew full well who Watson was. One wonders, then, if this was Holmes' attempt to make contact, perhaps in his efforts to decide whether or not he should reveal himself to Watson. We have no doubt that this crossing of paths was arranged by Holmes, and we can speculate that Holmes' leaving was likely not intended; it is easy to imagine that Holmes, face to face with Watson for the first time in three years, would quickly become overwhelmed by his carefully hidden emotions. That he should storm off lest Watson see this vulnerability is quite in keeping with Holmes' character.

Additional subtext can be found in the amusing title of Holmes' book, which brings to mind the worshiping of phallic shaped objects.

Holmes does not remain absent for long, for upon Watson's return to his consulting room he is soon interrupted by the very same book collector. Holmes does not immediately reveal himself, but instead slides into the role of bibliophile. He offers to sell Watson several books, including: British Birds, and Catullus, and The Holy War –a bargain, every one of them.

It should be noted that Catullus refers to Gaius Valerius Catullus, a well known and frequently studied Roman poet from the first century, BC. Catullus was known for his erotic poetry, some of which were indicative of his homosexual penchant.

It is this ruse which allows Holmes to convince Watson to turn away, Holmes waiting for Watson to turn his back before shedding his disguise. Watson's reaction, upon first spotting Holmes, is quite telling.

When I turned again, Sherlock Holmes was standing smiling at me across my study table. I rose to my feet, stared at him for some seconds in utter amazement, and then it appears that I must have fainted for the first and the last time in my life.

Remarkable, is it not, that Watson is so overwhelmed by the site of Holmes that he is rendered unconscious. We are, however, quite curious as to why Holmes should have revealed himself in such a manner. We know Holmes delights in surprising Watson, and yet even he must have foreseen what a cruel game he was playing --this on top of his cruelness at having allowed Watson to believe him dead these many years. One wonders if perhaps Holmes' disguise became a physical representation of a mask; if perhaps Holmes was terrified of facing Watson after so many years and so choose to make first contact in armour. The stripping, then, of his protective layer can easily be seen as Holmes' willingness to entrust himself in Watson's hands.

Having decided to reveal himself to Watson, Holmes, too, seems quite overwhelmed by seeing Watson again.

Certainly a gray mist swirled before my eyes, and when it cleared I found my collar-ends undone and the tingling after-taste of brandy upon my lips. Holmes was bending over my chair, his flask in his hand.

Note that Watson tells us that his collar is undone when he comes to, and that his lips are tingling, with Sherlock Holmes bending over his chair. While it is tempting to accept Watson's rendition (that of Holmes reviving his faint friend), the innuendo of this paragraph does not go unnoticed. It speaks, too, to Holmes' need for Watson, for not ten minutes have passed and already he is tearing at Watson's clothing.

Holmes' tactility, while suggestive, is not nearly as suggestive as it would have been were it not for Holmes' candid honesty. Too often Holmes holds himself back, refusing to allow his emotions to surface, and yet, here we see the exact opposite.

"My dear Watson," said the well-remembered voice, "I owe you a thousand apologies. I had no idea that you would be so affected."

While it may seem as though Holmes is apologizing merely for the bruising of Watson's lips (or Watson's fainting, if one prefers), it is quite easy to propose that this apology runs much deeper. There is a sense of genuineness in its issue that speaks to Holmes having thought out his words very carefully. Clearly, then, Holmes is apologizing, not just for the events which occurred in Watson's consulting room, but for the whole three years of his absence.

I gripped him by the arms.

"Holmes!" I cried. "Is it really you? Can it indeed be that you are alive? Is it possible that you succeeded in climbing out of that awful abyss?"


Holmes' amorous greeting does not appear enough to sustain Watson, for within moments Watson is reaching for Holmes and gripping him by the arms. One can easily imagine that Watson was then forced to bury the desire to draw Holmes close to him once again; Watson still acutely aware of the hour and the distinct lack of privacy their location afforded. Still, the gesture of intimacy does not go unnoticed.

Holmes' of course, does not pull away, but instead questions Watson's well-being.

"Wait a moment," said he. "Are you sure that you are really fit to discuss things? I have given you a serious shock by my unnecessarily dramatic reappearance."

It is quite obvious here that Holmes cares deeply for his Watson, and we sense Holmes' chagrin at having deceived Watson (both in this moment, and at the time of his disappearance). Holmes of old would have been only too excited to share his adventure with Watson, and yet this Holmes appears more concerned with Watson's health and welfare.

Watson, eager to hear Holmes' tale, dismisses Holmes' concern, stating:

"I am all right, but indeed, Holmes, I can hardly believe my eyes. Good heavens! To think that you–you of all men–should be standing in my study." Again I gripped him by the sleeve, and felt the thin, sinewy arm beneath it. "Well, you’re not a spirit, anyhow," said I. "My dear chap, I’m overjoyed to see you."

It is clear in Watson's excitement that he has envisioned this moment before, Watson undoubtedly spending several months (if not years) picturing Holmes walking into his study. We cannot know how long Watson remained in the denial phase of his grief, and yet, here we are certain that Watson is likely recalling those past incidences and wondering whether the Holmes before him is a figment of his imagination.

Again Watson is forced to reach out and touch Holmes (partly, one can imagine, to prove to himself that Holmes is indeed standing before him, but partly, one would wager, because Watson was incapable of stopping himself from initiating this physical contact).

Watson then goes on to ask how Holmes came to be alive from that dreadful chasm. Holmes, perhaps dreading the inevitable explanation, attempts to stall by mentioning the night's work. Their conversation, one must agree, is quite interesting:

"You’ll come with me to-night?"

"When you like and where you like."

"This is, indeed, like the old days."


Curious, is it not, that Holmes' first thought should be to secure Watson's companionship for the night's work. Clearly Holmes knows that he has wronged Watson, and clearly Holmes is concerned that Watson might take the news rather badly. That Holmes' only thought is to secure Watson's company is quite telling.

So, too, is Watson's response, for he clearly tells Holmes that he is at Holmes' disposal. That Watson should not question Holmes' intended plans is quite indicative of Watson's need to once again spend time in Holmes' presence --he quite literally cares not where and when, or even what the night might hold; Holmes' presence is all that matters. Finally, Holmes' final comment, that it is, indeed, like the old days, is quite touching, and one can easily imagine that Holmes has spent these past three years longing for the days of old.

Having secured Watson's cooperation, Holmes is left to tell Watson of his staged death and disappearance. Note, however, that Holmes first tells Watson:

"My note to you was absolutely genuine."

It is quite obvious here that Holmes feels remorse (and, indeed, guilt) for having deceived Watson. By telling Watson that his note was genuine (that Holmes did indeed ask Moriarty's permission to write it) is in essence Holmes' attempt to apologize. He hopes that in reminding Watson of the intimacy he shared in the letter that Watson might appreciate the gesture enough to forgive Holmes for Watson's grief.

Holmes does not stop there, however, as, having told his tale, he remarks:

"I had only one confidant–my brother Mycroft. I owe you many apologies, my dear Watson..."

Again Holmes is driven to apologize, a remarkable feat for a man such as Holmes. Clearly, this is evidence of Holmes' guilt. Holmes knows he has risked Watson's friendship and the thought of losing Watson permanently is quite despairing. Holmes wishes nothing more than to make amends.

So much so, in fact, that Holmes goes on to say:

Several times during the last three years I have taken up my pen to write to you, but always I feared lest your affectionate regard for me should tempt you to some indiscretion which would betray my secret.

While this may seem slightly insulting (that Watson would betray Holmes' secret), Holmes cannot doubt that Watson would be unable to sit idly by without attempting to contact Holmes. Holmes knows too well the depth of Watson's emotions, and this becomes even more evident when we examine Holmes' acknowledgment of how often he thought of contacting Watson. If Holmes felt compelled to contact Watson, we cannot doubt that Watson would feel the same, but, whereas Holmes' restraint is quite well honed, we cannot say the same for Watson's.

We must turn now from the story in order to address a curious question posed by numerous scholars concerning Holmes' true whereabouts during the Great Hiatus. Recall that Holmes tells us:

I traveled for two years in Tibet, therefore, and amused myself by visiting Lhassa, and spending some days with the head Llama. You may have read of the remarkable explorations of a Norwegian named Sigerson, but I am sure that it never occurred to you that you were receiving news of your friend. I then passed through Persia, looked in at Mecca, and paid a short but interesting visit to the Khalifa at Khartoum, the results of which I have communicated to the Foreign Office. Returning to France, I spent some months in a research into the coal-tar derivatives, which I conducted in a laboratory at Montpellier, in the south of France.

Immediately we begin to see several problems with Holmes' statement.

To begin with, there is not a head Llama (unless Holmes was in Chile herding llamas), but rather a head Lama. While this can be chalked up to a misprint, one wonders if perhaps Watson, in writing what he knew was an obvious lie, could not bring himself to show disrespect to the Lama by including reference to his title in this story.

Then there is Holmes' reference to Mecca, a city in Saudi Arabia (then part of Persia) which forbids entry to non Muslims. While it is possibly that Holmes entered in disguise, Holmes would have known that discovery would mean certain death. Without a case to drive him, one cannot see Holmes' journeying to a city which might cost him his life for no other reason than wanting a mere glance.

Even Holmes' visits to Khartoum and Montpellier have been brought into question (Khartoum was all but destroyed at the time of the Great Hiatus, and to research coal-tar derivatives is a rather meaningless statement). In fact, the hiatus has generated numerous theories regarding Holmes' true activities, Sherlockians going so far as to suggest that Holmes spent the hiatus: married, living in America, hidden in London, and overcoming his cocaine addiction --indeed, one such theory has Holmes cloning himself and sending his clone back to London while he went on to do his real work in Russia.

Whatever the theory, the question remains: Is Holmes' statement regarding his whereabouts during the Great Hiatus plausible? The answer is invariably, no.

This may seem unimportant to the student of subtext, and yet here we suggest that it is, in fact, extremely important. Allow us to examine the evidence which contradicts Holmes' statement, and demonstrate how this evidence suggests that Holmes and Watson's relationship was anything but platonic.

Watson, during his first reunion with Holmes, makes particular note of the dead-white tinge in his aquiline face which told me that his life recently had not been a healthy one.

Holmes has told us that he has passed the last three years traveling in the east; namely Tibet, Persia (the area now largely known as Iran and Saudi Arabia) and Egypt, before settling in France. Above, Watson clearly refers to a dead-white tinge in Holmes' complexion. Surely this is not a man who has spent several years traveling out of doors under the hot sun of the Middle and Far East.

In fact, Holmes' complexion is more in keeping with a man who has spent the bulk of three years indoors, heading outside only under the weight of wigs and makeup. This is quite suggestive, and lends weight to the theory that Holmes was, indeed, in London.

Then there is Holmes' statement that Moran had been a witness of his friend's death and of my escape. If this is the case, then why should Holmes have continued with his plan to disappear? Holmes had previously stated that if all the world was convinced that I was dead they would take liberties, these men, they would soon lay themselves open, and sooner or later I could destroy them.

Having carried out his plan only to be discovered by one of the very men that Holmes' wished to deceive should have immediately negated Holmes' plan. Why then, one must ask, did Holmes feel compelled to carry out his staged death? Holmes' explanation for leaving is completely illogical.

While it is entirely possible that Holmes did intend to stage his own death, it is reasonable to assume that Holmes dismissed this plan shortly after his confrontation with Moran. This would be the logical conclusion, and it lends weight to the theory that Holmes' did not, in fact, travel to Tibet and Persia.

There is, however, ample evidence to suggest that Holmes did spend the hiatus hiding in London (likely hoping that Moran would let his guard down if he thought Holmes was away from the city --and where else but London could Holmes have monitored Moran's movements?).

There is also evidence to suggest that Holmes spent this time in Baker Street, venturing out only in disguise, for Holmes later tells us that Mycroft had looked after his rooms. We know Mycroft to be particularly lazy, and so it is exceedingly difficult to picture him leaving his "track" in order to maintain and repair the fire damaged rooms in Baker Street.

Alternative, we might also suggest that Holmes maintained a disguise throughout his time in London, and that he was, and always had been, the old book seller who claimed to be a neighbour of yours, for you'll find my little bookshop at the corner of Church Street. What better way to keep an eye on (i.e. stalk) Watson than to take up residence a few doors down from Watson's practice?

Further evidence to suggest that Holmes remained in London can be found later in the story, when Holmes scolds Lestrade for having three unsolved murders in one year, suggesting that Holmes has been on hand to witness the going-ons of Scotland Yard. There is also the curious question of how Holmes managed to arrive in the city so quickly after Adair's death. And the question of how Holmes came to know of Watson's sad bereavement.

If we accept this evidence, and assume that Holmes was living in London, then the only question which remains is whether or not Watson knew of Holmes' whereabouts.

Throughout this decoding we have assumed that Watson did not, in fact, know that Holmes was alive, and if this is the case, then we must question why Holmes chose not to reveal himself to Watson. It is not unreasonable to suggest that Holmes' deceit stemmed from his desire to distance himself from a still married Watson. This will tie in with our later theory, which suggests that the timing of Holmes' unveiling to correspond with Watson's bereavement is not mere coincidence.

There is, however, some evidence to suggest that Watson did know of Holmes' whereabouts. It is entirely possible that, having escaping from Moran, Holmes made his way back to their hotel in Meiringen, where he stole in through the window of Watson's room and woke Watson from a fitful, sorrow-filled sleep. Watson, incredulous, but delighted, would have listened eagerly to Holmes' instructions; Holmes sending Watson ahead to London in order to arrange their rooms in Baker Street and prepare Mrs. Hudson for what was to come.

Then, some weeks later, Holmes would arrive in disguise, taking up his old residence while Watson appeared, to all the world, a man mired in grief. Watson penned his stories, building public interest in Sherlock Holmes (whom would seem fictional to most, for he was never seen or heard from in London). Finally, knowing they were close, Holmes had Watson chronicle his death, Holmes hoping that Watson's conclusion would convince Moran that Holmes had vanished for good.

While the above scenario may seem fantastic, it is neither impossible, nor improbable. In fact, it is the only explanation which explains Watson's eagerness to forgive what, to most, would be an unforgivable act.

Regardless of the theory we accept, both prove of interest to the student of subtext, for in one Holmes orchestrates his death in order to escape the temptation that is his married friend, and in the other Watson and Holmes spend three years closeted away in Baker Street, occupying their time as best they could.

"So it was, my dear Watson, that at two o'clock to-day I found myself in my old armchair in my own old room, and only wishing that I could have seen my old friend Watson in the other chair which he has so often adorned."

Returning to the story at hand, we cannot help but remark here Holmes' desire to have Watson by his side. There is an obvious sense of longing here, and one wonders, if indeed Holmes and Watson were separated for three long years, how often Holmes found himself wishing for Watson's companionship. We know Watson's grief led to a consuming obsession, but it is here that we first note the depth of Holmes' loss; for despite knowing Watson's whereabouts, we cannot doubt that Holmes missed his Watson.

In some manner he had learned of my own sad bereavement, and his sympathy was shown in his manner rather than in his words.

We have touched on this above, and yet it warrants a closer examination, for here we are presented with a rather interesting theory regarding the reasons for Holmes' return (unveiling). Curious, is it not, that Holmes should return to London (and Watson's side) upon Mary's death (or leaving, for we have suggested that Watson is covering here for Mary's abandonment and their eventual divorce). One cannot help but wonder if it was the change in Watson's marital status which led Holmes to reveal himself.

If, however, Watson was aware of Holmes' whereabouts during the hiatus, then we have further evidence to suggest a divorce, for here we can suggest that Mary's leaving corresponded with Watson's frequent absence (for we cannot doubt that Watson spent the bulk of his time seeing to Holmes' needs in Baker Street).

It was indeed like old times when, at that hour, I found myself seated beside him in a hansom, my revolver in my pocket, and the thrill of adventure in my heart.

If we accept Watson's narrative and assume that Watson knew not of Holmes' presence in London, then the above statement is quite suggestive, for it is obvious here that whatever residual resentment Holmes' deceit created has obviously vanished. Watson, claiming his rightful place at Holmes' side, is once again able to feel the thrill of excitement he once associated with Holmes (and, indeed, tried so often to capture in the writing of Holmes' cases). Watson has clearly fallen in love, all over again, and we cannot doubt that it was in this instance that Watson fully forgave Holmes.

Holmes’s cold, thin fingers closed round my wrist and led me forward down a long hall, until I dimly saw the murky fanlight over the door.

The pair arrive in Camden House, and here we cannot help but question whether Holmes' tactility was a direct result of his concern for Watson, or whether Holmes was merely taking advantage of an opportunity to initiate physical contact.

There was no lamp near, and the window was thick with dust, so that we could only just discern each other’s figures within. My companion put his hand upon my shoulder and his lips close to my ear.

It is perhaps during their brief stay in the empty house across from Baker Street that presents the most vivid sense of intimacy. The above scene is practically pornographic; Watson only able to discern Holmes' figure in the darkness from his proximity, and then the added weight of Holmes' touch, followed by the warm breath of Holmes' words at Watson's ear. There is such incredible energy in the above passage; indeed, one cannot help but shiver at its implications.

Holmes, whispering in Watson's ear, asks if Watson knows where they are. Watson acknowledges that they are looking out across Baker Street, to which Holmes replies:

"Exactly. We are in Camden House, which stands opposite to our own old quarters."

Note that Holmes again refers to Baker Street as our own quarters. In fact, within the span of minutes, he will again refer to them as our old rooms. This lends additional weight to the theory that Holmes has been staying in London, but also suggests that Watson was unaware of Holmes' presence. Either way, it is quite remarkable that Holmes should refer to Baker Street as though it were still his and Watson's home.

Having established their location, Holmes then asks Watson to move towards the window and glance into their old sitting room. Holmes states:

"We will see if my three years of absence have entirely taken away my power to surprise you."

There is a decide note of mischief in Holmes' tone here, and we are instantly reminded of the excitement Holmes derives from astonishing Watson. Watson brings out the boy in Holmes; and a more clear indication of love does not exist.

Watson does as instructed, and finds himself staring up at Holmes' silhouette.

It was a perfect reproduction of Holmes. So amazed was I that I threw out my hand to make sure that the man himself was standing beside me. He was quivering with silent laughter.

"Well?" said he.

"Good heavens!" I cried. "It is marvellous."

"I trust that age doth not wither nor custom stale my infinite variety," said he, and I recognized in his voice the joy and pride which the artist takes in his own creation.


Note here that Watson uses his amazement as an excuse to reach across and grope Holmes. Indeed, one might question if Holmes' quivering had anything to do with silent laughter. Then there is Holmes' pride and joy; two keen emotions which he readily shares with Watson and expresses by quoting from Shakespeare's Cleopatra and Antony (a statement, ironically, intended to describe a woman and her charms).

In silence we stood together in the darkness and watched the hurrying figures who passed and repassed in front of us.

The above is a familiar scene, and speaks to their unchanging relationship; regardless of their time apart, they find equilibrium. That they can take solace and comfort in silence is a testament to the bond between them.

In the midst of this silence, Watson spots two men on the street below and feels compelled to point them out to Holmes. Holmes' reaction, one must admit, is quite amusing.

I tried to draw my companion’s attention to them; but he gave a little ejaculation of impatience, and continued to stare into the street.

Given the exceedingly length of their wait, it does not come as a surprise that Holmes was unable to wait until he had Watson secured, and alone, in Baker Street.

This one indiscretion, however, proves not to be enough, for Watson soon tells us:

An instant later he pulled me back into the blackest corner of the room, and I felt his warning hand upon my lips. The fingers which clutched me were quivering. Never had I known my friend more moved, and yet the dark street still stretched lonely and motionless before us.

We shall allow the implications of this paragraph speak for themselves. Your author will, however, cheerfully point out the obviousness of Holmes dragging Watson into a darkened corner, then touching Watson's lips, then becoming so moved that his fingers quivered.

Sadly, the boys are interrupted by the arrival of Colonel Moran. Moran is not aware of their presence, and so is quite surprised when Holmes springs his trap and has the man arrested. It is here that we find Holmes quoting from yet another of Shakespeare's plays, Holmes stating:

"Journeys end in lovers' meetings", and we cannot doubt that Holmes is now anticipating his and Watson's return to Baker Street. Their case has ended, and there is nothing left save for the pair to return to Baker Street and reacquaint themselves with one another.

Holmes makes his intentions even more obvious when, having handed Moran over to the police, Holmes states:

"And now, Watson, if you can endure the draught from a broken window, I think that half an hour in my study over a cigar may afford you some profitable amusement."

Oh, my.

Sadly, Holmes and Watson arrive to find Mrs. Hudson in their old rooms. Holmes recovers quickly, making small chat before telling Watson:

"And now, Watson, let me see you in your old seat once more, for there are several points which I should like to discuss with you."

We cannot doubt that, the second Mrs. Hudson left, Holmes, perhaps first pausing to admire the sight of Watson in his chair, immediately pulled Watson to his feet and dragged him into the bedroom.

And then, sometime later, Holmes, clad in his dressing gown, filled Watson in on the details of the case as the two sat and relaxed over a well earned cigar; Holmes and Watson once again ensconced in Baker Street, with Holmes once again free to devote his life to examining those interesting little problems which the complex life of London so plentifully presents.

 
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