Thursday, January 03, 2008
Walking With Sherlock Holmes
Once again, it is I, John Watson, M.D. For several years now, I have had the immeasurable privilege of friendship with the World's Greatest Consulting Detective, Mr. Sherlock Holmes. As our friendship deepens and grows, I have found myself examining his methods. Although the adage asseverates that "familiarity breeds contempt," to the contrary I have found that continual observation of Holmes' methodology only increases my respect for his inhumanly keen detection skills.
I refer particularly to an incident that occurred just the other day. Holmes and I were walking the streets together. I find I often have to lengthen my stride, and his preferred pace is half again as fast as my natural saunter. The wind was quite brisk, needling its chill through the good wool of my suit, but the sun was bright, and the combined effect of the chill weather and gleaming snow was felicitous. I was admiring the trim and well maintained gardens which lay to our left, when Holmes suddenly stopped.
Often, on such occasions, Holmes will emit a sharp, barking laugh, as if to say "Oh ho, my good Watson! The game is afoot, and we shall challenge danger yet this night!" On this day, however, I was brought up short, realizing that Holmes remained several paces behind me.
As I turned, I found him fascinated by an initially unremarkable snowbank. He had lowered his head to examine the item more closely, his nose all but buried in the frozen stuff. Yet the position was not yet close enough, or perhaps the bright sunlight had created a brittle crust that obscured that which he sought.
I saw him scratch with the most delicate gesture, removing the offending obstruction without disturbing the fragile substance itself. This seemed to give him the access he sought, for after a few moments only of close observation, he leapt to attention and started off eagerly. And once again, we were off!