Holmes was far less particular about his sleep than I. He kept irregular hours. I was the one with the medical practice (admittedly, one more feeble than even my least-thriving patients). A visitor so late on a Saturday evening troubled him not at all.
Mrs. Hudson, our landlady, left him in our care with an indignant slam of the door behind her.
Holmes and I had both quickly donned robes. His own, which had a dark red oriental pattern, hardly seemed different from the tattered dressing gown he sported by day. Ignoring our visitor for the moment, he married a pipe to a plug of tobacco. “I say, Watson, there’s no need for you to put yourself out.”
Sitting down in my own chair, I shrugged. “I am up from my bed,” I replied. “Might do well to see what is the matter.”
Our visitor, to his credit, was mortified. “I beg your pardons, gentlemen, both of you! Were it not for the urgency of the matter, I would never have troubled you so.”
He was a thin man, still wrapped in a heavy coat, and with a broad-brimmed hat leaving little more than a pair of spectacles and a bushy beard which disappeared under the collar of his coat.
Holmes gestured for our visitor to sit. He took a babe’s succor in the mother’s-milk of his tobacco. Then, tilting his head to one side to waken his sleeping neck muscles, he said: