The Adventure of the two Collaborators
In bringing to a close the adventures of my friend Sherlock Holmes I am perforce reminded that he never, save on the occasion which, as you will now hear, brought his singular career to an end, consented to act in any mystery which was concerned with persons who made a livelihood by their pen. I am not particular about the people I mix among for business purposes, he would say, but at literary characters I draw the line.
We were in our rooms in Baker Street one evening. I was (I remember) by the centre table writing out The Adventure of the Man without a Cork Leg (which had so puzzled the Royal Society and all the other scientific bodies of Europe), and Holmes was amusing himself with a little revolver practice. It was his custom of a summer evening to fire round my head, just shaving my face, until he had made a photograph of me on the opposite wall, and it is a slight proof of his skill that many of these portraits in pistol shots are considered admirable likenesses.
I happened to look out of the window, and perceiving two gentlemen advancing rapidly along Baker Street asked him who they were. He immediately lit his pipe, and, twisting himself on a chair into the figure 8, replied: They are two collaborators in comic opera, and their play has not been a triumph.
I sprang from my chair to the ceiling in amazement, and he then explained: My dear Watson, they are obviously men who follow some low calling. That much even you should be able to read in their faces. Those little pieces of blue paper which they fling angrily from them are Durrants Press Notices. Of these they have obviously hundreds about their person (see how their pockets bulge). They would not dance on them if they were pleasant reading.
I again sprang to the ceiling (which is much dented), and shouted: Amazing! but they may be mere authors.
No, said Holmes, for mere authors only get one press notice a week. Only criminals, dramatists and actors get them by the hundred.
Then they may be actors.
No, actors would come in a carriage.
Can you tell me anything else about them?
A great deal. From the mud on the boots of the tall one I perceive that he comes from South Norwood. The other is as obviously a Scotch author.
How can you tell that?
He is carrying in his pocket a book called (I clearly see) Auld Licht Something. Would any one but the author be likely to carry about a book with such a title?
I had to confess that this was improbable.
It was now evident that the two men (if such they can be called) were seeking our lodgings. I have said (often) that my friend Holmes seldom gave way to emotion of any kind, but he now turned livid with passion. Presently this gave place to a strange look of triumph.
Watson, he said, that big fellow has for years taken the credit for my most remarkable doings, but at last I have himat last!
Up I went to the ceiling, and when I returned the strangers were in the room.
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