Earlier that day, Holmes had just finished up the case of Baron Tundra, who suffered from both cyanosis and an abscess—if ever I commit the tale to paper, I shall call it ‘The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle.’ Later that evening, we sat down to dinner with his brother Mycroft, at a local grand restaurant, Mycroft having agreed to leave the Diogenes Club, where conversation was disallowed. The two brothers began by catching up each other in the recent events in their lives, in their own unique way.
“I see you’ve lost weight, Mycroft, half a stone, give or take a few dozen grams. Sticking to watercress sandwiches and water at lunch has done wonders for you.”
“On the subject of abstinence,” Mycroft replied, “I observe that the Persian slipper you keep over the fireplace developed a hole, and you lost your tobacco, and you do not expect another shipment to your supplier for three more days.”
“Since you have mentioned a fireplace, my condolences over the temporary loss of your domicile, due to the damage caused by the carelessness of the left-handed bank vice-president who occupied the flat above you. I surmise the conflagration took place in his front room, specifically from a Turkish cigarette. As a result, you have had to seek temporary quarters in Kensington, and must now hire a hansom for your daily excursions to the Diogenes club. Deciding to disembark two blocks before your destination for the added exercise has benefited your weight loss—and I assume the horses appreciate it as well.”
“While we are discussing benefiting others, I note that you have lost the D string on your violin, and are thus unable to practice the ‘Flight of the Bumble Bee,’ to the benefit of Mrs. Hudson. The association with this piece of music has also rekindled your interest in owning an apiary, and I agree with your decision to seek out a location in Cornwall for this.”
As Holmes prepared a further response, I felt like a spectator at Wimbledon, my head swiveling from side to side, with each volley stronger than the one before. “Gentlemen, this is most spectacular. I can perhaps see how Holmes has determined the amount of weight Mycroft has lost, but the rest of the deductions are beyond my understanding. Please enlighten me.”
Holmes and Mycroft turned towards me as one, and said “no.”
Two hours later, the meal was nearing its satisfying conclusion, when the waiter bent down and whispered in Mycroft’s ear. He stood up, muttered his apologies, and hurried off (hurried being a relative term, given his girth), with the waiter.
“How extraordinary!” I said to Holmes. “What do you suppose that was all about?”
“I would have thought it obvious, Watson. It relates to Lady Finger and her imminent childbirth.”
“The Lady is pregnant? Impossible; she’s not even married.”
“As a medical man, you should know better than to assume it was impossible.”
“Dash it all, Holmes, that’s not what I meant,” I remonstrated. “But what could lead you to conclude that she was with child?”
“It’s elementary. She is on the society pages for months on end, attending this party on the arms of that beau, and then she disappears from view for the past six months. What else could have occasioned that?”
His reasoning was sound, but I quickly spotted the flaw in his argument, and was happy for once to have gotten the better of him.
“But surely it could have been an acute situation, arising elsewhere, that arose to summon Mycroft away? That must be at least equally plausible.”
“You forget about our server. Did you not notice anything unexpected there?”
“He did serve our soup from the right side, now that you mention it. But of what significance could that possibly be?”
“There were other faux pas committed during the meal. What trained waiter nowadays would not inflict his first name upon us the moment he greeted us? What trained waiter would not interrupt us every five minutes to ask how everything was going? Surely Watson, the person attending upon us was not accustomed to waiting tables.”
“Brilliant Holmes, I see it all now.”