As I turn to my notes regarding the series of incidents that occurred in the early summer of 1897, events that would have lasting impact on the criminal trade in London, it is the fog on the evening of June 18th that I recall most vividly. I was then making my way from my surgery to the rooms in Baker Street, which I shared with Mr. Sherlock Holmes, and forced to walk through a fetid, yellow miasma so dense that I began to doubt whether I was progressing in the correct direction. Yet penetrate it I did, only to be rewarded by opening the door of our first floor flat to find it equally clouded with billows of smoke!
“Great Scott, Holmes, is the place on fire?” I enquired.
“Open a window if you like,” his voice called from somewhere in the living room.
Unlike the fetor of the streets, this granite-hued haziness bore an all-too-familiar scent: Holmes’s shag pipe tobacco, the kind he resorted to when contemplating a baffling puzzle. Instead of opening a window (which would have done little good, in my judgment) I left the door open to allow the smoke to flow out into the hallway. Hopefully it would not unduly upset our landlady.
With the room cleared enough to see, I spotted Holmes on the floor, sitting cross-legged with a stack of newspapers in front of him, puffing away at his clay pipe with a fury that would make a locomotive envious. “How on earth can you see to read?” I asked him.
“Smoke travels upwards,” he replied. “Standing upright, you bear the brunt of it. Down here, the air is considerably more breathable.”