in the first class compartment, waiting for the train to depart. “You certainly surprised us all this
time! I was quite convinced the
Governess was the culprit”
Holmes nodded wearily.
“A natural mistake to make” he replied, and opened a newspaper as if to
close the conversation.
“I mean, damn it all Holmes” I went on, determined not to
allow him to avoid explanations. “Her
glove was found at the scene of the crime, the rope used in the hanging came
from her sash window, we found the bloodied knife in her room and on top of
everything, Sir Horace had recently changed his will leaving everything to her.”
Holmes put his paper down with some visible
irritation. He seemed to be physically
discomforted, in addition to his usual irascibility.
“Indeed Watson. But
as you know, I had a very long talk with the, erm, formidable Miss Huntingdon
in her schoolroom, and she explained everything to me very clearly. Very clearly indeed. I cannot breach her confidence to explain
why, but there is no question of her guilt.
She was most persuasive.”
And he fell silent as if recalling a vivid memory, then shook his head and shifted nervously in his seat – and instantly, it seems, regretted it, as he
winced in some pain.
“This railway company is a disgrace.” he remarked. “Singularly uncomfortable seats.”
“We could swap” I offered. “Mine is well upholstered.” But he refused with a curter shake
of his head.
“So…” I mused. “Suicide, after all. But Holmes, how ever did Sir Horace hang
himself and stab himself several times, after
tying his own hands behind his back? And
did you ever solve the mystery of the strange marks across his buttocks?”
“The English aristocrat is a remarkably creative animal,
Watson” Holmes remarked. “Damn this seat”
– and he got up, wincing all the way.
“If you’ll excuse me, Watson” he remarked, I think I might
after all not accompany you all the way to London. I cannot abandon Miss Huntingdon, at this
difficult time. To lose her employer and
gain control of a household and vast fortune all in one week like that… the
poor woman will need a man’s guidance. I
shall return to Castle Charingbourne.
thoughts. One day, I decided, I would
make him tell the whole story, even if it had to be sealed for posterity to
learn its secrets at some later date.
But a thought struck me, just as the train began to pull out of the
station, and I lowered the window and called out to the retreating Holmes, who
was standing pensively – but perhaps rather stiffly – on the platform.
“But dash it all, Holmes!
Sir Horace was an unmarried man!
Why employ a governess, if you have no children?”
But he did not – or would not – hear me or look in my direction, gazing instead almost longingly up the hill in the direction
of the great house, with the faintest smile playing across his lips.