From the Diary of Doctor Watson
At the sight of Lestrade’s grinning visage, it was clear there was only one course of action open to me – I smacked him in the mouth.
Lestrade barely flinched. He reached up and touched his lower lip. “That right hook of yours is improving, Watty.” His voice had dropped an octave and the familiar Baker Street drawl took me completely by surprise.
“Holmes!” I cried. “What on earth…?”
My old pal peeled the rubber mask from his face and rolled it up carefully. “Only way I could evade Lestrade and his poncy peelers – they’re all over the station like a dose of clap.”
“But, but, but…” I tried.
“Don’t but me no buts, Watson.” Holmes held onto the luggage rack as the train began to pull away. “Now, tell me what you know…”
Hannay and I sketched out the details of our adventure so far. When the sketch was finished, we added cartoon-type balloons containing the text. I could tell Holmes was, on the whole, fascinated, but after an hour, his attention began to wander.
“Might I ask what you are currently working on, Mr Hannay?”
“Oh, well, as you can see from the sketch here…”
“No, no, no, just tell me in your own words.”
Hannay was clearly overawed by the presence of the great detective, but he managed to explain the basic plot of ‘The 39 Steps’, its barely-concealed subtext and the underlying themes.
“Very interesting,” said Holmes, adopting that ‘yes-but-you’re-hiding-something’ tone I knew so well. “I wonder if I might expand on a theory of my own…?” He smiled winsomely and touched Hannay’s knee, making the other man visibly tremble with excitement.
“Of course, Mr Holmes, of course,” gushed Hannay like a simpering girl. “I’m all ears.” He shuffled forward in his seat, so his knees were almost touching those of my companion.
I began to feel a little put out. I tapped Hannay on the leg. “I say, old man, would you mind swapping seats with me – travel sickness, you know?” He acquiesced at once and I was again able to command the full attention of my detecting friend.
“On second thoughts,”said Holmes, giving me a sly wink. “I’d prefer to keep my theory close to my chest for the moment, if you don’t mind? However, I am looking forward to visiting Newton Stewart.”
“You think we’re right to go there, Holmes?” said I.
He nodded. “I do, Watson, and I think within a few minutes or arriving, we shall know all there is to know about this affair.”
And with that, he curled up and went to sleep.
To be continued.