A Break in the Chain
It was late in the afternoon before I woke, strengthened and refreshed. Sherlock Holmes still sat exactly as I had left him, save that he had laid aside his violin and was deep in a book. He looked across at me as I stirred, and I noticed that his face was dark and troubled.
You have slept soundly, he said. I feared that our talk would wake you.
I heard nothing, I answered. Have you had fresh news, then?
Unfortunately, no. I confess that I am surprised and disappointed. I expected something definite by this time. Wiggins has just been up to report. He says that no trace can be found of the launch. It is a provoking check, for every hour is of importance.
Can I do anything? I am perfectly fresh now, and quite ready for another nights outing.
No; we can do nothing. We can only wait. If we go ourselves the message might come in our absence and delay be caused. You can do what you will, but I must remain on guard.
Then I shall run over to Camberwell and call upon Mrs. Cecil Forrester. She asked me to, yesterday.
On Mrs. Cecil Forrester? asked Holmes with the twinkle of a smile in his eyes.
Well, of course on Miss Morstan, too. They were anxious to hear what happened.
I would not tell them too much, said Holmes. Women are never to be entirely trustednot the best of them.
I did not pause to argue over this atrocious sentiment.
I shall be back in an hour or two, I remarked.
All right! Good luck! But, I say, if you are crossing the river you may as well return Toby, for I dont think it is at all likely that we shall have any use for him now.
I took our mongrel accordingly and left him, together with a half-sovereign, at the old naturalists in Pinchin Lane. At Camberwell I found Miss Morstan a little weary after her nights adventures but very eager to hear the news. Mrs. Forrester, too, was full of curiosity. I told them all that we had done, suppressing, however, the more dreadful parts of the tragedy. Thus, although I spoke of Mr. Sholtos death, I said nothing of the exact manner and method of it. With all my omissions, however, there was enough to startle and amaze them.
It is a romance! cried Mrs. Forrester. An injured lady, half a million in treasure, a black cannibal, and a wooden-legged ruffian. They take the place of the conventional dragon or wicked earl.
And two knight-errants to the rescue, added Miss Morstan with a bright glance at me.
Why, Mary, your fortune depends upon the issue of this search. I dont think that you are nearly excited enough. Just imagine what it must be to be so rich and to have the world at your feet!
It sent a little thrill of joy to my heart to notice that she showed no sign of elation at the prospect. On the contrary, she gave a toss of her proud head, as though the matter were one in which she took small interest.
It is for Mr. Thaddeus Sholto that I am anxious, she said. Nothing else is of any consequence; but I think that he has behaved most kindly and honourably throughout. It is our duty to clear him of this dreadful and unfounded charge.
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