There were no cases anywhere above a four, and Mycroft had paid off all his usual suppliers to stay away from him, so there was nothing for it but either face down an interminable evening of boredom or invite the landlady up to share some of her "herbal soothers".
Hudder's stash wasn't quite as powerful as he was used to, but it was taking the edge off the supposedly hilarious story she had been recounting for what seemed like an eternity and a half... something about a hat? or a bird? A bird hat?
"Weren't there biscuits?" he asked, interrupting with not a little pleasure at a crucial juncture.
Hudders attempted a glare. "You finished them half an hour ago, dear. I told you this was good stuff. Now keep quiet," she said, waving her hand carelessly so some ash tumbled off the end of the cigarette. "I was just getting to the good part..."
"Watch out," said Sherlock, twisting away to the other end of the couch. "I'll never forgive you if you burn a hole in my second-best dressing gown."
"Your second-best wot?" Mrs Hudson cackled like a tortured owl. "Sherlock Holmes, have you ranked all your dressing gowns?"
"Should I not have?"
Mrs Hudson wiped her eyes.
"Oh, you dear old thing," she said, carefully balancing the roach on the lip of a saucer and pouring them both some tea. "What standard are you using? Comfort or looks?"
Sherlock scoffed. "I made a chart of the various tensile properties, of course. It's a complex calculation involving the relative measures and importance of tenacity, elasticity, inflammability--"
"Yes, that's enough, dear," she said, lifting her cup. "I'm already sorry I asked. Which one came in first?"
"The navy blue. It's got the ideal combination of--"
"Oh, no no no no." She replaced the cup with a jarring clink. "That's definitely not the best."
"No, it's... or rather... " She tapped her fingers against her temple as if to urge the synapses on. "Oh, drat, I can't remember them all. How many do you have?"
Sherlock ticked off on his fingers. "There's the burgundy, the mouse colored one, the purple... " He trailed off and stared over her shoulder, his eyes taking on a glazed look. "Do I have a purple dressing gown?"
Mrs Hudson frowned. "I don't think so. That'd be a bit much, even for you, dear."
"Hmm," agreed Sherlock. "Must have dreamed it. Anyway, the royal blue silk--"
"That's the one!" Mrs Hudson exclaimed. "Brings out your eyes."
Sherlock nodded thoughtfully. "Yes, I suppose I forgot to include that variable in my analysis."
"Go put it on, you'll see."
"Put it on? Now?"
"Why not? Go on, give us a little fashion show," she said with a mischievous grin.
Sherlock looked horrified, but Mrs Hudson only chuckled and took another drag. "You know you want to."
"I want no such thing," Sherlock replied primly, but he got up and went into the bedroom. When he came back, he was wearing the tartan gown.
"What happened to the blue silk?"
"I'm wearing it," said Sherlock. "I'm wearing them all. Seemed like the most efficient way to transport them."
Mrs Hudson clapped her hands and cooed with pleasure. "So it's to be a striptease, then? I'll get some music on the wireless." She fiddled with the dial and found something with a slow, suggestive beat. "But remember, dear, I'm a professional. Be prepared for a thorough critique."