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."