The Adventure of the Haunted Oast House at Harrow Weald
Chapter Two
Billy Fields

      It had been a frightful night for the city as the storm raged against the buildings. Mrs. Hudson had stoked the fires higher than we needed to the point where we needed some relief and the windows were opened ever so slightly to allow a breeze accompanied by the nasty rain which pounded Baker Street.

      We breakfasted over some scones and bangers with coffee as we prepared for a pre-dawn trip to King's Cross. Holmes was not very talkative, but his mood was better than previous days, at least for the moment, his mind was working on a problem, a problem which seemed all consuming at this point.

      Mrs. Hudson arranged for a carriage for our fast trip to the station. To our dismay when we descended into the streets, it was a hansom cab which would offer us little protection against the driving rain.

      "Blast," Holmes shouted into the night. "Why would anyone send such a cab on a day fit for the devil!" He kept swearing in the most foul manner even using vulgar language and calling for a growler instead of the hansom. However, it was too late for a change in transportation so we pleaded for a fast passage to King's Cross. Soaked from the rain which swirled past the glass, we finally arrived at our destination. When we arrived, the station appeared abandoned except for the porters who stood at attention ready for what would have normally been a busy morning. The weather, which had turned so violent, was keeping the casual traveler at home and turned the rest of us quite ill from its effects.

      As we settled in our compartment, water dripped from our soggy outer garments. Fortunately, the porter was able to take our cloaks to be dried. He even brought some tea, a much-needed companion coupled with the brandy I carried in my bag.

      Holmes drew his pipe, filled it and began his routine. Since it was still dark and storming, there was nothing of the countryside to admire and little light to use for its admiration. I turned to the early editions to see if there was any news from Harrow Weald. The silence of the night was broken only track noise as the Great Northern railroad coach clattered on through the bleakness.

      "What do you make of it," I asked Holmes, who was preoccupied by swirling smoke from the clay pipe. "I am baffled by parts of this situation."

      Holmes drew himself up into the chair, as he often did, continuing to be disengaged from my diatribe, intent on staring.

      "What is the cause of death? Who found the bodies? Why were the victims in that building," I said out of frustration, as Holmes stayed distant. "And the entire issue of a haunted past of the oast house. Really. This supernatural falderal is silly, though I suppose good stories for a stormy night," I said.

      Suddenly, lightening flashed, filling the compartment with brilliance light then as quickly we shook from the thunder.

      Holmes did not move. I regained my composure but felt some anger over him seemingly ignoring my presence, much less my questions. "Holmes!" I demanded.

      "What is it? Can't you leave me a lone for a moment," he retorted in a most disagreeable manner. "Can't you see I am considering possibilities? I do not know any of the answers because I do not have enough information. I am not a mind reader or a conjurer. I am a machine. Surely by now you must understand how I work!"

      My face was clearly contorted in some shock and dismay for this treatment at the hands of my friend, especially his tone of voice.     

       "Watson, old friend, forgive me. This is truly a problem, a great three-pipe problem and before it is over, you and I will have many steps to take, many questions to ask and many pipes to smoke. There are logical explanations, I am sure, but now I need facts."