We started off as planned and Holmes mounted the famous Blackjack whilst I took up the reins of the trap so that I could return to the Lady Forecastle.
I arrived at Forecastle Heights shortly before sunset and was greeted by a groom who took the trap in hand as I returned to the manor house. My knock summoned the butler who promptly escorted me to her ladyship.
“Dr. Watson, have you found Arthur ?” she enquired, as soon as the butler had shuffled his bulk out of the room.
“We know where he is, m’lady, and Holmes is on his way to him now. He is at the Ledbetter Sanatorium, under the care of a well-known specialist in these matters. It is, in fact, the very institution where I would like to take you for your own treatment.”
“That is in Coventry, is it not ?” she asked.
“Yes, we are fortunate that it is so close. If you can be ready, I should like to escort you there tomorrow.”
“I’m not sure that is possible,” she replied.
“Lady Forecastle,” I responded, rather sternly, “I realize that your symptoms are far less severe than your friend, but you cannot put off their treatment. You have an opportunity to avoid the misery he is undergoing. I grant you it will not be easy, but it will be harder the longer you wait.”
She looked at me with imploring eyes, “I am aware of your concerns, Doctor and I too wish to relieve myself of this cursed addiction. But I have received a telegram from my husband. He is in Paris and will be returning here within the week. Should he find me gone, and in fact find that I am with Arthur, even though it be in hospital, he may never forgive me.”
I realized that it now fell upon Holmes and myself to act as mediators with Lord Forecastle, for I could not allow my patient to risk her life over the unfounded jealousy of her husband.
“Lady Forecastle, if your husband has any love for you at all, he would surely want you to take whatever measures necessary to regain your health. My advice to you is to let me take you to Ledbetter’s to begin your treatment. Holmes and I will do all we can on your behalf to make your husband understand how he has falsely accused you.”
“You are so kind, to show me such gallantry. I shall have to think the matter through. Would you stay for supper and spend the night, Doctor ? After a good sleep I should think I could make a decision in the morning.”
This was a tempting offer, for it was now dark outside and the road back to Beasley Manor was unfamiliar, as Holmes had done all the driving. However, with Lord Forecastle out of town and gossip already rearing its ugly head, it would not be prudent for me to accept her invitation.
“I can see what you are thinking, Doctor,” she added. “What if you stayed with the hostlers above the stables ? It’s not likely to be as comfortable, but it would save you the extra trip to Beasley’s tonight and back again tomorrow.”
“Lady Forecastle, I appreciate your thoughtfulness, but I suggest we not give the gossip mongers any further fuel for their fire. You know how these stories can spread. All they’ll hear is that I spent the night. They won’t take into account that I was sleeping in a separate building. More likely, even if they hear that, they’ll assume the worst and that some rendezvous still took place. Besides I should take word to Lady Beasley that we found her son.”
“Yes of course,” she replied. “Then at least allow me to supply someone to drive you, for the road can be treacherous in the dark.”
“I would appreciate that, madam,” I replied, somewhat relieved.
“Then please, while your horse rests, at least stay and eat something before you journey on.”
I agreed and we sat down to a delicious, if subdued, meal. I questioned her more about her symptoms and strongly suggested that she heed my advice to accompany me to Coventry.
As I wrapped myself in my coat to depart, she promised to give it careful thought and would have an answer when I returned in the morning. Her groom, a middle-aged man named Fallon, pulled up at the front door in the Beasley trap, with a horse for his return trip tied behind We proceeded to Beasley Manor at a brisk pace, for he knew the road well.
Lady Beasley was quite anxious upon our return and graciously arranged for Fallon to spend the night so that he would not have to ride back alone and could return me to Forecastle Heights in the morning.
She immediately bade me to come sit with her and give my report. I explained all that had occurred and how Holmes was, even now, en route to her son.
At my tale of the unfortunate drug arrangement between her son and Colleen Forecastle she grew saddened.
“Ronald Forecastle is a fool !” she cried. “Though I cannot fathom it, Colleen is devoted to the man, as is my son. They would never betray him. Although, Doctor, I sometimes wish that my son had found her first, for they are of a kindred spirit and she would have made him a good wife.”
“You are not the first person to say so, Lady Beasley,” I concurred.
“Whenever the three of them are together at any social event it would seem obvious to a knowledgeable observer.”
“I wonder if Lord Forecastle is aware of that ?” I pondered.
“He is so self-absorbed and single-minded I doubt he would notice any such thing,” she replied. “But enough of him, what are your plans, Doctor ?”
I explained how I hoped to transport Lady Forecastle to Ledbetters where she could also be treated and, once there, observe for myself the progress that her son was making. I told her I would send her a telegram advising her of his condition.
“Can I not go to him with you, Dr. Watson ?”
“I would advise against that for now, m’lady. From Clarendon’s description, he is not well and his treatment would not be a pleasant thing for you to witness. Nor, I am sure, would he want you to see him in such a condition.”
“I am his mother, Doctor, I need to be there for him. I lived with his father through a long and painfully debilitating illness, so I am no stranger to such unpleasantness. I will accompany you tomorrow.”
“Very well, Lady Beasley, but it will take us several hours to get there so may I prescribe an early bedtime and a hearty breakfast ?”
“Agreed, Doctor, I shall expect you for breakfast at seven so we can get an early start.”
We informed Fallon of our plans and the next morning we proceeded back to Forecastle’s, this time in Lady Beasley’s enclosed carriage, for the weather was threatening.
Upon arriving at Forecastle Heights we were admitted by the butler, who stiffened when he saw that Lady Beasley was in my company. I was relieved, however, to see a carpetbag and umbrella at the ready by the front door.
Before he could announce us, Lady Forecastle appeared from the direction of the dining room. She stopped suddenly when she saw Lady Beasley.
“Lady Beasley ! I…I…,” she stammered.
The elder woman went to her and took her trembling hands in her own.
“Colleen, it’s all right,” she spoke softly, like a mother to a child. “Dr. Watson has explained everything. I am only sorry that my poor Arthur introduced you to those demon drugs.”
“I know he never suspected any harm, I don’t blame him,” the young mistress replied. “It’s my own fault for being weak.”
“Hush, no more of that,” Lady Beasley admonished, taking her into a hug.
When the two separated, Colleen insisted that we have some tea before departing. We exited to the parlor and enjoyed a first rate blend.
“This is quite excellent,” I said. “What brand is this ?”
“To my knowledge we have the only supply in England. It’s a unique tea that my husband discovered in India. His latest trip was spent negotiating for rights to become a primary importer of this flavor.”
“Well, I hope he is successful, my dear,” added Lady Beasley. “It is a delightful tea and I for one, would certainly keep it in my kitchen.”
“Thank you both,” she replied. Noting the time she added, “Shall we prepare to go ?”
We made ready and soon were on the road again. Fortunately the threatening clouds held their peace and Fallon made excellent time. We stopped in Cubbington to refresh the horses and soon after we resumed he turned north, prior to Kenilworth and took the Coventry Road straight on to that fair town. The trip required most of the day and it was nearly five o’clock when we alighted at Ledbetters.
It was a former manor house that had been turned into a hospital with additional wings added for patient rooms. Its stately brick exterior faded with the years of exposure to the elements. As we arrived at the front desk I introduced the members of our party, explaining that I wished to admit Lady Forecastle and that Lady Beasley was there to visit her son.
The staff was quite efficient and an orderly escorted Lady Beasley while I went with Colleen to consult with Dr. Blaise. Blaise was a stocky fellow, slightly shorter than I, with a receding hairline and a thin black moustache. His manner was friendly but professional. Our consultation regarding her prognosis went well and he agreed that by starting treatment at this stage, she had an excellent chance of complete recovery and independence from her addiction. His news in regards to Arthur Beasley however, was not so encouraging.
“Lord Beasley is quite far advanced in his addiction, Dr. Watson,” he stated. “The dosage he was using over so many months will be difficult to overcome. There are only so many treatment options available. I may have to resort to some experimental methods that have not yet been tested.”
“But first,” he continued, responding to Colleen Forecastle’s reaction to this news, “let us get Lady Forecastle settled in and then we can speak some more.”
He made arrangements for a nurse to see to Lady Forecastle’s needs and I promised her that I would look in on her before I left. Upon her retreat I turned to Blaise again.
“By the way, can you tell me where I can find Sherlock Holmes ? He should have arrived yesterday to look in on Lord Beasley.”
Dr. Blaise looked at me in surprise, “Did they not tell you at the front desk ?”
“Tell me what, sir ? I did not enquire about Holmes at the desk.”
He folded his hands on top of his desk and said, “We admitted Mr. Holmes as a patient last night.”