A Touching CaseIT WAS a rainy day when I entered the main room of Holmes' apartment. The fire was lit and the room was much cosier than it usually feels.
"Ah Watson, just the man I needed to see," said Holmes. "I have received quite a sad telegram this morning. It is a case that needs to be handled by an expert. Since I cannot leave London while I am still pursuing the thief of the Lady Mortimer's jewels, and this case will take one all the way past Liverpool and beyond, I kindly request that you will see to its successful end."
Before I could politely decline, and tell Holmes my clinic kept me too busy these days, the bell downstairs chimed and we heard heavy footsteps.
"Doctor Smith all the way from northern England, we were just talking about you," said Holmes. "Pray sit down."
"Thank you," said Dr. Smith in a thick accent. "Please call me Henry. I haven't even told you where I am from. Once I talk people always know, but how could you know? And how would you know I am a doctor?"
"Please excuse my directness, but your accent is quite noticeable from your writing. And doctors have a specific handwriting. The question mark at the end of the letter can only be written by doctors, I'm afraid," said Holmes.
Being a doctor myself I had seen many letters by doctors. I must admit they are not easy to read, but I have never seen anything out of the ordinary about how we write our question marks.
The Doctor's StoryHomes started again: "It does not matter. Please retell your story, so that my assistant Dr. Watson can also follow."
The man's expression turned very serious as he started to tell:
"I have always had a difficult relationship with my father. He was a toy maker, you see, and wanted badly for me to take the profession as well and run the shop after him. I did not, I became a doctor. It has always been difficult to talk with him. The last few years his health had taken a turn for the worse, so I gave up my clinic to look after him permanently. Many days he just stayed in bed, but on good days he would go to the shed in the garden where he stored his tools and made his toys. He loved making children's toys in all the colours of the rainbow. Last week his heart gave out and he passed away.
I decided to look in the shed for the first time, and saw some unfinished toy blocks and mechanical gears and an elaborate drawing. Maybe that is just what it is, some unfinished toys. But the drawing has letters on it, you see, so I have this small hope that my father decided to leave a message. Will you go with me to investigate?"
I immediately stood up. "Worry not. I am a fellow doctor, and have recently solved quite a few mysteries with hidden messages. I will go with you, and if there is a message we will find it."
Thus it happened.
During the long train ride we had a lively conversation, but as we drew nearer his old family home his mood grew more sombre. In the shed I found some newly made wooden toy blocks and the drawing with many gears.
'Now,' I said to myself. 'What can I make of this?'