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The Corpse of Lord Castlereagh
The year was 1830 in London, and as usual, the crisp October wind chilled the bones. The leaves had started to wither down to dust that the wind blew through the air. The days were shorter and the nights were colder. I, Dr. John Watson, had just finished visiting my parents for a short amount of time after graduating medical school. I was a young chap looking for a place to stay in the middle of London where I could go about my profession as well as I pleased. An old college mate of mine recommended 221 Baker Street.
“It’s a nice place, on the quiet side of town. Of course it has another tenant with whom you’d be sharing with.” I assured him I was ready to meet anyone who would share my inhabitance. I arrived at the residence, a stately establishment. Inside, there were Victorian embellishments, ebony trim and old tapestries. I liked the place immediately and so did my dog, Gladstone. I asked then to see the other tenant, but he was out. I was so glad I had found a place and I was prepared to share it with someone else. Nothing however, in heaven and on earth, could have prepared me for meeting Holmes.
Holmes was an average size man, with clean cut beard and whiskers. He enjoyed smoking his pipe in the wee hours of the night, and vexing me by trying to kill off my dog Gladstone with another one of his chemical experiments.
Once I got used to his unusual habits (such as playing the violin at 3 in the morning) I enjoyed his company. He often asked for my medical advice in his profession, being a private detective. We became very good friends within a few months. Often he was absent for dinner, and because of that I quickly became good friends with his housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson. Holmes often enjoyed vexing her as well by keeping his quarters in the filthiest way possible.
Mrs. Hudson was a wee old woman, with skin as thin as papyrus. Erect she stood about five foot exact, wearing her usual threadbare apron over an aged frock. She was in every way kind to me, but acted more like a stern nanny around Holmes.
I woke that morning to the sound of screaming. Instantaneously, I jolted out of bed and ran down the corridor, not even bothering to put on my bed coat. The noise came from Holmes’ room, as I would have guessed. I stopped, sighed, and walked into his room for the fiftieth time, with the same tired frown scribbled upon my face.
This time I caught Holmes standing on his exquisite oak desk, a metal rod in hand. He was wearing only his bed clothes and binoculars. I stared at him in disbelief. It was two in the morning. I didn’t know how Mrs. Hudson seemed to sleep through this din.
“What are you doing now?” I groggily asked. Holmes laughed as another scream erupted from outside his window. I walked to it and stared in shock at the scene unfurling before my eyes. Mrs. Hudson’s small dwelling that was juxtaposition to ours had a long metal antennae attached to the roof. It was Mrs. Hudson who screamed, for as I now watched, Holmes pointed the metallic rod towards the antennae and a long spark connected the tip of each. Holmes laughed like a giddy schoolboy.
“Isn’t it wonderful?” He cried, oblivious to any hint of reality. I shook my head and snatched the rod out of his hand.
“Watson, I was almost done.” He pleaded, jumping down from the desk.
“It’s two in the morning, Mrs. Hudson is trying to sleep and so am I.”
“I had almost gotten it though.”
“Gotten what?” I grumpily huffed.
“Electricity, static electricity; imagine connecting multiple dwellings on one current of electricity.” He desperately begged for my attention, but at the muddled state I was in, there was none to give.
“Holmes, this is reality. Go to bed. I’ll see you in the morning.” I frowned and took the rod with me out of the room. The usual “good night old boy” followed me back down the corridor. I didn’t even remember falling asleep I was so tired.
Holmes woke me by shaking me violently.
“Wake up Watson.” He hissed. I squinted and shook my head. Glancing at the clock, I suddenly sprang upon Holmes with vitality.
“You woke me up at six in the morning?!” I cried as we tumbled to the floor. I set upon him, fists flying. My exhaustion had taken over my entire mentality. I should have stopped myself; it would have been the proper thing to do; but seeing how it was six am, I had only gotten four hours of sleep, and I was in my own apartment, it was not the case. Holmes blocked every one of my futile attempts. He then pinned me to the floor. I groggily shook my head.
“No, no Holmes. Not today. I already was up this morning. I need my sleep.”
“Watson this is extremely important.” Holmes uttered with as much solemnity as he could at six in the morning. I disregarded his tone and shook my head.
“Watson I need your help. Get up.” Again I refused. In retrospect, Holmes was extremely impatient. Typically he would have come back in an hour or two depending on the circumstance, but that day was an exception. He walked off for a few moments, and I thought the torture was over. How wrong I was, because he soon came back with a pitcher of water which he proceeded to dump the contents on my head. I sputtered in shock, and then sprang upon him. He held me back and brought me to cessation. I nodded.
“Right.” I shook my head, sending streams of water through the air.
“Get dressed Watson; we have a case to solve.” Holmes walked to the window.
“Why ‘we’? I do have my profession awaiting me.” Reminding Holmes, once again of reality. In our present day London, it was extremely rare for anyone to drop their profession suddenly for a day unless there was an emergency.
“No need to get upset old boy.” Holmes remarked, not turning from the window. “I've canceled all your appointments for today.”
“What?!” I exploded. Holmes nodded and I could almost feel a smirk in my direction. Oh, I should have let him have it. But on the other hand I was curious. I had never been on a case with Holmes before. I had only examined the few corpses he brought home as evidence to decipher like pieces to a puzzle. I retained my composure. I would not give Holmes the satisfaction of my capitulation.
“Fine.” I shook my head and walked into the lavatory, slamming the door for good measure.
By the time I was ready and dressed, Holmes was downstairs eating breakfast. Mrs. Hudson sat on the rocking chair in the corner, reading her book. After last night’s kerfuffle, she preferred to ignore Holmes as much as possible. Holmes was giggling over something in the newspaper, what it was I couldn’t tell. I sat down in the chair closest to Holmes’ and began buttering a piece of toast that had been left out for me.
“Watson.” Holmes began, without even looking up from his paper.
“Yes?” I managed to say with my mouth full.
“Do you remember the case I told you about, that I took eight years ago, the one with Lord Castlereagh?” I nodded in response. “Come I need to show you something.” Holmes was being more ambiguous than usual, but my curiosity got the better of me and I quickly followed, carrying my piece of toast up with me.
Today Holmes’ room looked more abandoned than ever. The curtains were thrown open to expose the lack of cleanliness in the room. The bed covers were strewn across the floor along with papers, pens, dirty plates and pieces of food. I quickly called Gladstone to me, knowing he could at least help by eating the discarded scraps on the floor.
In his room, Holmes quickly snatched a scrap of paper off his desk. He then proceeded to show me the contents. The piece of paper looked like this:
“Though eight years have been a time,
Your case may now begin. I will be watching, as I usually do.
I want you to find something. I will pick it up from you when you have found it.”
“It’s from our gracious and wonderful friend Lestrade, he told me a gentleman gave it to him only yesterday to give to me. I’m sure you can guess Watson, who it is really from.”
“Moriarty.” I uttered, referencing Holmes’ arch nemesis.
“Exactly. Now as to what the note means. The ‘eight years have been a time’ references the Castlereagh case, for it happened eight years ago.”
“This was the case you mentioned to me once before about a… suicide?”
“Almost Watson. Lord Castlereagh was our foreign minister at the Congress of Vienna in 1814. He made sure we stayed out of the way of any more conflict after the Napoleonic wars. But I digress… Castlereagh however, after the Congress, began suffering from paranoia, or so the doctors told me. And finally on August 12, 1822 he committed suicide by stabbing himself in the carotid artery. However, you and I both know that there was a reason behind Castlereagh’s paranoia and his ‘suicide’. There was something that happened in the Congress of Vienna that started it all. It sparked his paranoia. As to his death I am positive it was not suicide. There was and still is someone behind this.”
“Let me guess, as usual, Moriarty?” I shrugged. According to Holmes there was no one else as clever and cunning as Moriarty, except for Holmes himself. Moriarty had friends in every corner of the world it seemed. Once he found Holmes they were busy thwarting each other for months on end. There was no cessation to the so called game they had against each other. I only hoped this game would not ruin Holmes for the worse
“Moriarty exactly. I have my suspicions that Talleyrand is working for Moriarty.”
“Wait, Monsieur Talleyrand? The foreign minister of France, are you sure it isn’t the other way around?”
“Completely. Here’s my reasoning. Talleyrand made a secret alliance with Britain and other countries against Russia or Prussia if either got too big. Talleyrand was told to do so by Moriarty, who wants to start a war betwixt all European countries.”
“How do you know this?” I sputtered. In response, Holmes slapped today’s paper on the table in front of me. The most prominent headline exclaimed: “Polish November Uprising on the spread!”
“Don’t you see Watson? Talleyrand made this alliance so that eight years later, Moriarty would start an uprising in Poland. This would cause Russia to combat the liberal efforts and in the process seem to expand its empire, which would then spark this secret alliance to take arms and the world would be at war.”
I paused for a moment, as I felt inundated by facts and figures. Finally I asked, trying to get back on topic:
“Where does Castlereagh’s death fit into all of this?”
“I’m glad you asked. This is all in theory of course, but I believe that Talleyrand became cocky and arrogant and told Castlereagh the plan to create a war, mentioning Morairty’s dealings in it. Castlereagh though, knew better and stole something from Talleyrand during the Congress to stop Moriarty. After the Congress, Moriarty did what he does best and created Castlereagh’s paranoia. Finally when Castlereagh still wouldn't give over the stolen evidence the only act left to commit was murder. That is why Castlereagh is important. However, I think that the evidence Castlereagh stole is still hidden.”
“In his grave of course. Why else would Moriarty put it in his note?”
“Holmes, you said this is all just a theory, what if there was no murder? What if it was actual suicide?” I held out my hands. “Think of reality.”
“I am Watson. Would you rather have the world as we know it be in the middle of war with neighboring countries?”
“Why did Castlereagh even get involved in the alliance if he wanted Britain out of affairs?” I asked, changing the subject.
“Because France needed Britain’s aid if anything happened. Moriarty is clever for doing that, but I still can’t figure what he will gain from this war, and why he waited eight years to begin it.”
I shrugged. I didn’t have the answers either. Holmes insisted we visit Castlereagh’s grave though, to find any evidence. The clouds had begun to envelop the sky. I shivered softly. Sitting opposite from Holmes I smiled as he took out his pipe and began lighting it. He took a few puffs then smiled at me. The carriage rolled and jolted across the cobblestone street.
“So where is Castlereagh’s grave?” I asked, trying to initiate conversation.
“In Glorious dawn’s cemetery.” Holmes pointed out the window to a row of forbidding iron fences that enclosed an acre of tombstones. The carriage slowed to a stop and he and I climbed out.
The caretaker of the place was an elderly man by the name of Mr. Mortician. It was not surprising to find he had inherited his father’s business. He unlocked the gate and wished us good luck with a voice that sounded like moving gravel. The gate screamed at us and Holmes chuckled.
I followed Holmes as we trudged through the gravel paths, up hills and across small streams. I never realized how large the cemetery was. Trees grew here and there. A few people knelt at the graves, saying goodbye to loved ones. Holmes kept walking.
“Keep your eyes peeled for anyone who looks suspicious. Moriarty is watching us.” I nodded
Finally we reached the back corner of the cemetery. Here, in between two large fir trees was Lord Castlereagh’s tombstone. It was small and polished marble. The engraving on it however, did not make any sense:
“Posterity will ne’er survey
A nobler grave than this,
Here lie the bones of Castlereagh,
Stop traveler and piss.” –Lord Byron
I crinkled my nose in disgust. The whole grave was so paradoxical. Here was a nice polished stone that held the most disgusting eulogy on it.
“Lord Byron wrote those words after Castlereagh’s death; no doubt he loved the foreign minister.” Holmes remarked with a smile and a voice dripping with sarcasm. “As unusual as the circumstance may seem the words give more of a clue than anything else in this grave yard could.”
“What the deuce do you mean?” I exclaimed in shock, “To me it seems disgusting and vulgar, why on earth would anyone write something so crude?”
“Watson, Byron is telling us how to open Castlereagh’s tombstone.” Holmes raised his eyebrows. I shrugged; as usual he would probably be right on this one.
“But wouldn’t the evidence be with his body?” I asked, hoping that I wasn’t completely off.
“Of course not, that would be too easy for Moriarty to dig up. The evidence had to be important for him to seal into stone.”
“Holmes you don’t mean you’re going to…” I trailed off. Holmes grinned. My eyes became as wide a tea saucers. In the past Holmes had stolen things, trespassed, and worked outside the legal realm, but it didn’t seem like him to urinate on a tombstone, especially the tombstone of Britain’s foreign minister.
“Watson, have you ever heard of something called Urea nitrate?”
“I didn’t think you would. Urea nitrate is an explosive made out of urine. In the case of Castlereagh’s tombstone, that is exactly what Lord Byron was mentioning would break it.” Inwardly I breathed a sigh of relief. It would have been completely humiliating to be seen next to Holmes urinating on the tombstone, but instead there was another, more complex method. I should have assumed there would be.
“So the stone would not break open to anything else but urea nitrate?”
“Exactly. There must a certain chemical compound on the stone that only reacts with urea nitrate, hence Lord Byron’s clue. I’m glad I brought it.” Holmes groaned as he fished for it in his coat pocket.
“And you just happen to have some urea nitrate Holmes, is this just coincidence?” I already knew the answer.
“Of course not Watson, remember I took the Castlereagh case. I was there at the funeral, I saw the tombstone eight years ago, and I knew how to open it, I just waited for the right moment.”
“And now this is it?” I asked. Holmes nodded as he poured a small vial of urea nitrate onto the tombstone.
“Stand back.” He stood up and walked behind one of the trees as I did the other. The tombstone began smoking and then with a loud bang, burst into flames. After about three minutes the flames burned out. Holmes cried out in glee to find a metal box inside the hollow rock. He gingerly pulled it out, carefully avoiding burning his fingers; thankfully the box was not very hot. I sat on the ground next to him as he opened it. Holmes then began rapidly looking over his shoulders.
“It’s a map.” I exclaimed quietly. Holmes shushed me loudly and glanced over his shoulder again. I followed his gaze. My heart sunk into my stomach in fear for there, standing only a hundred feet from us, was Moriarty’s right hand man, Sebastian Morale. He nodded at us, smiling.
Sebastian Morale was a ratty looking character, with a mousey nose and beady, piercing eyes. He was cunning, but not as much as his master. Yet he used violence in lack of any brains, which made him a dangerous mercenary. I had never actually met either him or Moriarty, but from the descriptions Holmes had given me earlier, I could tell it was him right away.
“Moriarty wants us to the dirty work I see.” I exclaimed as Morale strode over to us.
“Why do you think Moriarty sent us that note?” Holmes muttered under his breath. We stood up to face the approaching Morale.
“Good morning gentlemen. Out for a stroll in a cemetery are we?” He asked nonchalantly. I eyed him with suspicion. Undoubtedly he was here for the map, but thankfully, Holmes had hid it back into the box.
“Actually yes.” Holmes replied with a larger than usual smile, before punching Morale in the face. Morale bent over clutching his mousey nose. I was caught off guard. Holmes pulled me and together we sprinted back to the carriage.
“Do you think he’s moved it?” I yelled. Holmes shook his head. We could see the carriage through the iron fence.
“Mr. Mortician, could you please shut the gates!” Holmes shouted as we speedily came to the elderly caretaker. I glanced over my shoulder to see Morale chasing after us, holding his nose. There was little time. Morale was so close that it would be a futile effort to close the gates before he got there. But Mr. Mortician did as he was told and proceeded to shut the gates just as Morale reached them. Morale growled at the man and proceeded to pull out his pistol. At the sight of the weapon, Mr. Mortician unlocked the gates and Morale sped after us, losing only a few seconds. Holmes leaped into the carriage, and I only seconds after. Morale aimed the pistol and fired, narrowly missing Holmes’ head as the bullet went through the carriage door. The horse, spooked by the pistol, burst into a gallop, and the carriage sped away from the cemetery. Morale ran after it for a while, firing his gun but missing, since Holmes and I ducked to the floor of the carriage.
“Why didn’t you tell me about Morale earlier?” I panted as soon as the carriage had lost Morale.
“Because I wanted you to judge for yourself what type of man Morale is. By giving you a hint of what was to come, you would not have reacted in the same way.” I sighed. I was exhausted. It was noon and already I was ready to go to bed. Holmes looked weary as well.
We soon arrived back at the house. Mrs. Hudson greeted us merrily. Holmes smiled at her before retreating into his own lair. I followed him.
Holmes set the map on the table and proceeded to take out a magnified glass to examine it. I too gazed curiously at the paper.
The map was an old one to be sure. It had been folded numerous amount of times and the creases were inscribed into the very paper. The ink was almost too faded to read, thankfully most of the map was drawings that could be easily deciphered. The pictures on the map were of what seemed like looming fortresses in the middle of vast prairies. These drawn fortresses were connected by heavy black lines that seemed to represent railroad tracks. The lines wove across the paper, dodging drawn trees and crossing sketched streams.
Holmes was elated after examining the map for some time. I had retired in my usual chair by Holmes’ fireplace, the only thing in the room left alone by its owner.
“Watson,” Holmes wheeled about to face me, a smiled protruding from his face, “do you know what this map is for?”
“A map…of fortresses?” I guessed. Holmes shook his head, still grinning from ear to ear.
“It’s a map of Moriarty’s warehouses. These are his supply houses that he will use in the war, I am absolutely sure. As to what they hold I am not certain. It is written in a type of code and I need my tools to decipher it. This could take a few minutes.”
“I do not mind waiting.” I replied, for I was curious to be sure. I reclined in my usual chair and proceeded to take a nap.
I had no idea how long I had slept, but when I awoke Holmes was smoking his pipe and peering over the map on a table. I grunted and stood up cautiously.
“I’m glad you’re awake Watson.” He remarked without turning to face me. I strolled over to the table and took a seat opposite of Holmes. He puffed on his pipe and I knew that whatever was puzzling him was harder than it looked.
“Where is the code you are trying to solve?” I asked. Holmes pointed.
The code looked like this:
NZWU MLQVJCZOP BW UIVKPMABMZ BW JIBP BW TWVLWV. ABWX JG JISMZ ABZMMB.
“How cryptic.” I remarked. Holmes grunted in response.
“Watson, it’s not that I cannot solve it, I just can’t figure out what it means. It says: ‘from Edinburgh to Manchester to Bath to London. Stop by Baker Street.’ Why here? We live on Baker Street and I have seen no shipments arrive.”
“Could it be a play on words?” I suggested, “Baker does have more than one meaning.”
“Watson you’re a genius! Of course!” Holmes leapt from his chair in excitement. I had no idea what was going on. “Watson, the warehouses store food for the soldiers. That is why he wrote Baker Street, because there are quite a few bakers on this street who Moriarty might have employed; but also because they would meet here and keep an eye on us.” Holmes was ecstatic. “Moriarty is going to use his warehouses to supply the French soldiers with food in exchange for something… that is the part I haven’t figured out.”
“I’m glad you at least cracked the code Holmes.” I smiled, trying to join in on my friend’s success.
“And now Watson, the only lead left is for you to go to France.” My smiled suddenly vanished and was replaced with a look of puzzlement.
“Got to France? Holmes what the deuce are you talking about?”
“Watson,” He leaned in close, taking my hands in his, “I need you to go to France and talk to Talleyrand. Ask him if he knew Castlereagh, say that you are a cousin of the family visiting France on holiday and wanted to stop by. Please Watson.” I shook my head.
“No Holmes, you canceled all my appointments for today I can’t walk out on my profession. I cannot meet Talleyrand; I cannot do what you ask.”
“Watson, I will pay for this. I will not cancel your appointments again, I promise…Please.” Holmes pleaded. I sighed. I really was curious, I was burning with curiosity. I wanted to see how this case turned out, but at the same time reality struck me. What if I could no longer afford to live at 221 Baker Street? I would be kicked out of house and home. I would have no patients visit me, remarking that I was that fellow who had discarded his profession to help his friend. But yet, looking into Holmes’ eyes, hearing his pleading voice and above all, my curiosity, I knew that reality would not stop me.
I was going to France.
? ? ?
Whenever one goes on a trip, there always seems to be a feeling of regret, a twinge of loss or abandonment. This feeling increased even more so after saying goodbye to Holmes. We shook hands and afterwards I boarded the ship.
She was a small, sleek vessel, with white sails and a merry crew. I shared my tiny quarters with one of the sailors, named Barnacle. It was obviously a nickname given to him by the rest of the crew because of his scaly skin. He was a friendly man and invited me to play cards with the rest of the crew. In the end, I ended up losing more money on that voyage than any other trip I had taken.
I arrived in France around lunchtime. Stopping for a bite to eat at the local café, I picked up a newspaper to read while eating my lunch. There still seemed to be an uprising in Poland and I tried to think how Moriarty would be involved in such a desolate country.
By the time I was satisfied it was one o’clock and I hurried to Versailles, taking a carriage.
Versailles looked exactly how it had been described in the past. It was a looming, beautiful palace, with every embellishment possible adorned in its features. I could not stop starring, for it was more luxury than I had ever seen in my lifetime.
I walked inside, cautiously, not knowing what to expect. I had only heard of Talleyrand by his reputation, and of course, what Holmes had described him as. Holmes had written an old colleague of his who lived in France to schedule an appointment for me to speak with Talleyrand. I walked past a large mirror, and stopped to verify that my apparel seemed best. Then I walked on.
Versailles was a large palace indoors as well as out. I walked through hallway after hallway, corridor after corridor, walking past the hall of mirrors and other famous rooms in the palace, before finally reaching Talleyrand’s office. I took a deep breath and knocked on the door.
“Come een.” A voice called warily from inside. I slowly turned the knob and the door creaked open.
To my surprise I found Talleyrand reclining on a window seat, reading a book. He looked older than I had expected, I guessed he was in his late fifties. He wore a long moustache that curled around his lips. His hair was combed into a clean style and his attire seemed formal at the very least.
“Bonjour, you must bee doctor Vatson nu?” I nodded, still trying to decipher his heavy French accent. “I am Monsieur Talleyrand, advisier to ze king and to ze countray. Please valk vith me.” At this he stood up and led me out of his office. We began backtracking the very steps I had taken to find his office.
“Vhat do yu think? Is it not gorgeous? Zis palace vas built for ze king himself, and as such it is magnificent. Do you not agree?”
“Indeed.” I replied, trying not to accidentally mimic his accent. We walked down one hallway after another, passing only a few people, including a few maids and an elderly butler.
“Now, my secretary said zat zis vas an appointment for you to talk to me? Vhy?”
“I just wanted to know if you knew my Uncle Castlereagh. He was Britain’s foreign minister for a while.” I asked, trying not to seem conspicuous. Talleyrand nodded.
“I deed know heem for a vhile oui. It vas a long time ago to be sure. But ve vere not wery close friends. He did not agree vith me on certain ideas. I might have told him one zing or anozer and he ze same to me. I vas sorry to hear he died, but not inside. Ve never got along.”
“What started it all?”
“Oh just zis and zat. He thought ze vorld vas fine if Britain vas not involved, but I zought differently. I knew ve needed Britain’s help to stop Napoleon. I used to vork vith Napoleon you know.” I nodded. “He called me a sneaky mouse, but C’est la vie. Now I vork vith Louis Philippe, ze most glorious king I have vorked vith in my entire life.”
“That’s very interesting.” I commented, trying to sound interested.
“Vhat is doctor Vatson? Oui I know of vho yu are. You didn’t mention your name earlier, so I took ze liberty of filling it in myself.” I knitted my eyebrows, Talleyrand chuckled at my reaction, “Zhey told me yu vould be here, to talk to me. Vhy?” Talleyrand twirled his moustache, grinning. I fumed.
“Tell me who told you and I will answer the question.” I hissed, annoyed that my cover had been blown.
“A man by ze name of Sebastian Morale called yesterday. He is quite familiar to me, so don’t vorry. I believe him more zan I believe you. But now tell me vhy you vanted to talk to me?”
“I wanted to know your opinions on Castlereagh. That is all.”
“And you vouldn’t by chance be in possession of anything zat vas his vould you?” Talleyrand grinned like a Cheshire cat. I shook my head. “Pity, zat is a shame. During our Congress of Wienna he took somezing of mine and never returned it. Oh vell, I zink I have done all zat I can for you. If you vant to talk to Morale zat is fine by me. He vas staying at the King’s inn last I heard. Au Revior Monsieur Vatson.” With that I was walking back out of the palace, the long way.
I was more than disappointed to find that Talleyrand knew who I was, but thankfully, I hoped that he didn’t know who I was working with. I tried to think like Holmes about what to do. Would Holmes have gone after Morale?
Talleyrand had given me more than motivation to see Morale. But it seemed very suspicious, because Talleyrand was pointing me to him, seeming to lead me into a trap. I shook my head, I couldn’t die. Holmes would have to finish the case himself, but on the other hand, if it was only Morale in that hotel room, I could easily overtake him, seeing what Holmes demonstrated in the cemetery as an example. I was curious again, to see what he was up to and why he had been watching me. I hoped I wasn’t a target.
I arrived at the King’s inn by nightfall. When I had heard Morale had not actually been residing there, my hopes for finding him were shattered, until I heard from the desk clerk that Morale was actually residing in an apartment across the Seine. I thanked him most graciously. Upon realizing that it was much too late to actually go after Morale, I instead went to a house which was owned by one of Holmes’ old colleague’s, a man by the name of David.
After dinner I immediately went to bed. Sitting up I contemplated the situation for hours. Wasn’t it strange that Morale wasn’t residing in the inn Talleyrand told me? Obviously Talleyrand had lied to me, but that wasn’t the curious part. The curious part was that he was pointing me to Morale, but pointing me in the wrong direction. Because Talleyrand was working with Morale, there could have been a miscommunication. That was most likely it, I thought to myself, before quelling the small candle’s flame and falling into a great slumber.
I woke up to the sun peering through the window. Remembering where I was and why I was here, I quickly got dressed and scrambled downstairs.
There was no time to lose.
I engulfed my breakfast and dashed out the door. If I arrived at the apartment while Morale was out, I could peruse his possessions and find out exactly what he was up to.
I arrived as driven by a carriage, to an old French building, with cream colored shutters and an old iron balcony above the front door. I paid the driver before opening the old gate that enclosed the residence. Thankfully all the windows had the curtains drawn across them. I breathed a sigh of relief. I could sneak around as I pleased without Morale seeing me.
However, I didn’t know if he was home or not, therefore I pulled my small pistol out of my coat pocket and cocked it, in case of emergency purposes. Since Morale was a dangerous mercenary, I could not be too prepared if fate was so inclined that we meet.
I crept around to the back of the residence and looked for a way in. The back door was bolted shut. That would have been too conspicuous anyway. If Morale was home, he probably would have been waiting for me to come in through the back door. But maybe not I speculated, basing my reasoning off what miniscule information I had about him.
I scanned the building again. There were vines growing up the north wall. I smiled as the ivy stretched past a north window with drawn curtains. This method hopefully would work. I un-cocked my pistol as so it wouldn’t fire on accident, and I began my ascent. The vines had been growing there for quite some time because they were strongly attached to the wall of the apartment.
I grasped one vine after the other, pulling myself farther from the ground at increasing intervals. It is quite a quandary to pull oneself up a building using nothing but shrubbery. However, I reached my destination within approximately twenty minutes. The window appeared to be a second floor one, with long heavy green curtains closing the inside of the apartment from the outside world.
Thankfully the window was an old one and the window frame was quite large and easily accommodated my weight. I crouched down to inspect the sash that held the window shut. Because of its age the technology that closed the window was obsolete and therefore broken. I smiled as I pulled the sash toward myself and opened the window. I jumped inside and pulled the sash closed behind me, as so to give the appearance that I had never entered by window in the first place.
I crept out into the hallway. The apartment’s second floor was nothing more than a generous size hallway with several rooms branching off of it. The ceiling was painted in a most aesthetic manner, with pictures of stories from the Bible along with cherubim and flowers.
Hearing a noise that seemed to be traveling down the hallway with great momentum, I jumped behind one of the heavy green curtains and held my breath. The sound of footsteps became louder, more definite. They stopped right in front of the curtain.
“Francis!” A voice cried and I stifled a feeling of fear. For standing no more than three feet from me was the very person I was trying to avoid. I winced and tried not to move. Footsteps from the other direction were rapidly approaching.
“Yes sir?” A voice asked.
“Is my coach ready?” Morale’s voice was brusque and sharp; he seemed in an impatient humor.
“Yes sir. I will get your coat for you.”
“Thank you.” And the footsteps went away together.
As soon as they were out of earshot I exhaled a large quantity of air. That was extremely close. But now I knew the very news I was hoping to hear somehow: Morale would be out, and I could peruse wherever I pleased.
I cautiously exited the curtain and strode down the hallway opposite the direction that Morale and Francis, whom I assumed was the butler of the residence, went. I walked until I found myself at the south wall, a staircase led to the floor below and I turned around. Most likely Morale’s quarters resided on this very floor. I crept to the first room, the one on the left.
The door was ornately carved into a picture of an angel holding a trumpet. I shrugged and pushed it open. The door swung to the wall, revealing a quaint lavatory, containing a toilet, sink, bath, and window. I sighed. That definitely wasn’t Morale’s quarters.
I searched room after room, trying to find something that would show me that Morale resided there. Finally, I found it. The seventh door on the left led to a large room that was juxtaposition to the balcony. I closed the door behind me and crept around the room.
What I found startled me. There were maps of both France and Britain, a disguise kit, two different pairs of pants hanging up in the closet, and finally the newspaper Holmes showed me about the November uprising in Poland. Morale knew what he was doing. I peered over the contents of the nightstand drawer. There was nothing worthwhile except for a notebook with scribbles that contained Holmes’ name in them. However, I couldn’t read Morale’s handwriting except for Holmes’ name. I stood up to inspect the armoire in the corner, when a strong hand clasped me in a choke hold.
Sorry, but my typewriter just jammed, let me fix the ribbon… There…… all is well again. Where was I? Oh yes, the unknown attacker.
I struggled to breathe and viciously kicked my attacker in every way I could. He still wouldn’t budge.
“Hello Doctor Watson, it’s nice to see you again.” Morale’s voice rasped in my ear. I stiffened. I thought he had left. “Did you think I was actually going to leave you here to look through all my things? As soon as I saw you walking up the drive I knew what you were here for.” He chuckled and let me go. I dropped to the floor like a rock in water. I coughed and looked up at him.
My eyes widened as I realized my unseen attacker was none other than Holmes. He smiled at me. I knitted my eyebrows and stood up.
“Holmes…how on earth did you…” I trailed off. Holmes continued grinning. Then I understood. I had only heard Morale in the house, I had never seen him. Holmes had been Morale all along, knowing I was coming to “spy” on him. But I didn’t understand the connection between Talleyrand and Morale. Where was the real Morale?
“Watson you seem perplexed, come let’s talk over a cigar.” Holmes led me down the stairs into the parlor. A large fire had already been burning for some time for the room was quite warm. Holmes took a seat in a large leather armchair and proceeded to light his pipe. I took the seat opposite and watched him in anticipation as he successfully set the pipe alight.
“So Watson, how are you?” Holmes smiled, placing the pipe in between his teeth. I sputtered.
“Holmes I am in a quandary. How the deuce did you follow me here? Were you Morale all this time? What about Talleyrand?”
“Calm down old boy. I’ll tell you,” Holmes proceeded to take a puff on his pipe before beginning; “before you left for France I sent Talleyrand a telegram saying that Morale would arrive in France the day before you left. However, I told Talleyrand where Morale would be staying but that he could not meet Talleyrand, for I myself would be posing as him. The real Morale was still in London. On the day you left for France, I snuck on the ship after you. I pretended to be your cabin mate named Barnacle. Once arriving in France however, I immediately took a noon train to Poland. The trip was quite tedious and long, but I finally arrived.
‘I was looking for a man named Pytor Wysocki, who was the leader of the uprising. I found him upon my arrival and took him into my