have never known my friend to be in better form, both mental and physical, than
in the year '95. His increasing fame had brought with it an immense practice,
and I should be guilty of an indiscretion if I were even to hint at the identity
of some of the illustrious clients who crossed our humble threshold in Baker Street.
Holmes, however, like all great artists, lived for his art's sake, and, save in
the case of the Duke of Holdernesse, I have seldom known him claim any large reward
for his inestimable services. So unworldly was he -- or so capricious -- that
he frequently refused his help to the powerful and wealthy where the problem made
no appeal to his sympathies, while he would devote weeks of most intense application
to the affairs of some humble client whose case presented those strange and dramatic
qualities which appealed to his imagination and challenged his ingenuity.|
this memorable year '95, a curious and incongruous succession of cases had engaged
his attention, ranging from his famous investigation of the sudden death of Cardinal
Tosca -- an inquiry which was carried out by him at the express desire of His
Holiness the Pope -- down to his arrest of Wilson, the notorious canary-trainer,
which removed a plague-spot from the East End of London. Close on the heels of
these two famous cases came the tragedy of Woodman's Lee, and the very obscure
circumstances which surrounded the death of Captain Peter Carey. No record of
the doings of Mr. Sherlock Holmes would be complete which did not include some
account of this very unusual affair.
the first week of July, my friend had been absent so often and so long from our
lodgings that I knew he had something on hand. The fact that several rough-looking
men called during that time and inquired for Captain Basil made me understand
that Holmes was working somewhere under one of the numerous disguises and names
with which he concealed his own formidable identity. He had at least five small
refuges in different parts of London, in which he was able to change his personality.
He said nothing of his business to me, and it was not my habit to force a confidence.
The first positive sign which he gave me of the direction which his investigation
was taking was an extraordinary one. He had gone out before breakfast, and I had
sat down to mine when he strode into the room, his hat upon his head and a huge
barbed-headed spear tucked like an umbrella under his arm.