“I must determine the contents of that box!” exclaimed Holmes in the carriage.
“Of course we must! Naturally, the only course of action available to us involves trespassing and possible burglary.”
“This particular box was at the very back of the shelf, all of which was entirely covered in dust except for the box which was also the only container in the room that I could see which was securely locked,” he clarified. “I also happened to discern minute traces of what, upon closer examination, appears to be blood.
“That’s why you licked the box?”
“You look most relieved. Surely you didn’t think that I was hungry?” I tactfully ignored this jesting remark.
“Just because you tasted iron doesn’t necessary mean that it’s blood; it could be rust, for example.”
“And water could be milk?” Holmes stated. I stared at him blankly.
“The difference in appearance to the trained eye of rust to blood is approximate to that of water and milk to the untrained. But perhaps you don’t like milk? A violin and a viola, then. Or the sea and the sky.”
“Yes, alright, Holmes,” I snapped. “Don’t tempt me to test your first metaphor by pouring them on your head respectively. And what if it is blood? Perhaps there is a set of scalpels in the box; I don’t see how you can justify trespassing in the Doctor’s surgery.” Holmes sighed, instantly causing my vexation to vanish, for this the first time since I had begun working with him that a flicker of uncomfortable doubt had, in my presence, crossed his face.
“This time I haven’t irrefutable proofs or a warrant on my side; only the necessity of knowledge,” he said slowly.
“You are not obliged to accompany me on the trip I make tonight, Watson. I wouldn’t accompany myself if it weren’t required,” his old manner began to return, “but I am myself and so must accompany me. That is to say, I or the self that is me whom I must accompany.”
“And does this self realise that the self that is the friend to this self is obliged to accompany him in order to ensure that he doesn’t get himself shot?” I asked bluntly. Holmes smiled, brightening.
“By Jove, Watson, if you aren’t such a loyal self as another self could want. But here we are at six Salisbury Road and I do believe that something of interest has occurred in our absence.”
True to his inference, I caught a glimpse of Herbert glancing out the window before he disappeared and a moment later came dashing out to meet us.
“Mr. Holmes, thank goodness you’ve come. I had hoped you might visit. This business is becoming more and more alarming!”
“Let’s go inside and you can tell us all about it,” said Holmes calmly. Once seated, Herbert began.
“I suppose this shouldn’t really be anything to worry about, only with the letter and everything I’ve become quite anxious. You see, Jane goes to the bakers each day to fetch some bread as it’s a short walk and good for her condition. Today she came home troubled and, when I asked her what was the matter; she said that she had seen Doctor Berger in the marketplace looking at her and that he had seemed to be watching her the entire time as she went to and from the bakers. She also mentioned that she had thought she had seen him outside her house a couple of days ago, but hadn’t been certain whether it was him. Now she is sure that it was.”
“I see. And you believe this to be more than mere coincidence,” stated my companion.
“Yes, I do. What should we do?” Holmes considered.
“I take it to be a fact that the Doctor lives near his surgery, close to this residence by his own admission. It is therefore highly likely that he would pass her house, or glimpse Ms. Kingsley at the morning market, especially if he is also in the habit of attending in the mornings. If he was watching her, it could well be because she has not yet answered his letter, unprofessional though it may be. It could also be that he is keeping watch over her progress as his patient, should he happen to see her by chance outside the surgery.”
“Well, when you put it that way…” Herbert said sheepishly.
“I would still recommend that you remain cautious. Where is Ms. Kingsley?”
“Preparing lunch in the kitchen. Would you like to speak with her?”
“No, that won’t be necessary, unless you think there’s anything else she could tell us?”
“She told me everything.”
“In that case I wish you good day. I will continue looking into your case and contact you if anything pertinent is revealed.”
“Thank you, Mr. Holmes, and you, Dr. Watson.”