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Prelude 1

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[Narration by Mr. John Watson, Esquire]

These two sections covering those early years when, in the words of Holmes' quite unique mother (I just know that he is rolling his eyes at that appellation, the bastard!) we were what she later called T.N.T. - that is, 'together, not together'. For all her.... being her she was a shrewd observer of human nature; Holmes later told me that the frequent hints she had been dropping as to his possible marriage ('hints' as in 'having a wedding Order of Service printed including his name and a set of blanks where the bride should have been, then framed and presented to him'!) suddenly ceased after his brief return home subsequent to the events of the 'Gloria Scott' case.

I, supposedly skilled at diagnosing people, was rather slower off the mark. In the normal run of events a doctor is supposed to deduce what is wrong with a patient from the sometimes inadequate and often downright misleading information provided, and then recommend a suitable course of treatment. Looking back there were several signs that something had changed in my world, yet whether consciously or no I ignored them and continued with my life as before. I suppose that they are right when they say that doctors make the worst patients, although Sammy's remark that I was so far up a certain river in north-east Africa as to be in Ethiopia was pushing it.

Yes it was!

I was still angered after the way the case of the 'Gloria Scott' had ended. That the Bargate College authorities would wilfully ignore the actual facts of the case just to protect someone of the 'calibre' of Lord Rushcliffe was frankly depressing, made more so by the fact that it was equally unsurprising. Fortunately Stamford informed me within days that Sir Charles had wholeheartedly backed his son's decision to quit the place, so all Holmes had to suffer was some time at home during which his mother tried to make him feel better by reading him some of her stories. H elater mentioned to me that this was one of those rare times in his life when he drank copiously!

One particular incident in my life stood out, concerning one of several minor historical events that year. Not Mr. Clopton Winfield's invention of a new game that he called 'Sphairistike' (I cannot think why that term never caught on and it instead became known as lawn tennis) but the establishment of the London School of Medicine for Women, several of whose students undertook part of their course at St. Bartholomew's. One of them was a attractive young lady called Miss Cassandra Robinson and several of my fellow students had attempted to win her favours, all to no avail. It came as something of a surprise when she approached me and suggested a cup of tea together. She was both charming and beautiful, yet throughout our meeting I felt absolutely nothing for her. Evidently she got the message and our encounter was not repeated, to the surprise of my fellow students.

Stamford wrote to me again a few weeks after my arrival back in London with the most excellent news that his former room-mate had after some efforts on his father's behalf obtained a place on a similar course to the one he had been on up at Tarleton College in Cambridge. I had never heard of that particular establishment assuming (correctly as it turned out) that it was one of the newer ones. I had no idea how that name along with the blue-eyed scruffy little genius would come barrelling back into my life the following year, and in what tragic circumstances.

What did surprise me at that time was that Holmes himself continued writing to me. I had not thought that our brief encounter had merited such favouritism but I was more than happy to be proven wrong. He seemed to be settling in well to his new establishment and I only wished that it had been closer to London so that I might contrive to visit him. His quirky mannerisms were in retrospect rather endearing (except perhaps the one concerning throwing visitors to the floor in the middle of the night!) and I wondered if I might suggest meeting up in London when he came to visit his parents one time.

As it happened I did not need to. We met in Cambridge – over two dead bodies!

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