Sherlock Holmes: The Confidant 1
After all the years of working with my dear friend, Sherlock Holmes, I grew quite content in my role as his confidant and biographer. My understanding and trust in the complex workings of his mind made for a sound partnership. I confess that most of my bravado stemmed from the implicit belief that Holmes could overcome and outsmart any impediment. Which is why on a dreary day in the fall of 1888, I was rather dumbstruck by the responsibility that fell upon my shoulders.
I awoke that morning to discover my companion absent, as was his way while pursuing the fresh trail of a case. He had yet to confide the details, only voicing that his client begged secrecy of him. Once all was well, the particulars would come to light, he assured me.
Much of the day carried on with no news until Mrs. Hudson escorted a young man up the stairs. Setting the paper aside I stood to greet him, though I was hardly prepared for visitors. No card had preceded his coming, and Mrs. Hudson had no name to offer. Only that the man had insisted on speaking with the head of the household, with much haste.
His suit was well-fitting, clearly tailored and must have cost a handsome fee. The black sweep of hair revealed upon the removal of his hat also indicated much personal grooming. Yet, beyond deducing his wealth and high status, my abilities fell short. The presence of my dear Holmes was sorely missed, as he would surely read the life story of this young chap before a word passed.
“I apologize for my impertinence,” the man said. “I assure you that I only cast away ceremony due to the urgency of my situation.”
I showed the young fellow a seat. “I am happy to assist you in any way I can, though I believe my friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, is the man you need, and he is away at present.”
“No, I have come to speak with you, Dr. Watson.”
This took me by some surprise. “How may I be of service? Has someone fallen ill?”
“Medicine is my field of expertise and anything beyond that would be better suited for Mr. Holmes.”
The young man crumpled the hat in his hand, sweat glistening on his brow, clearly agitated by an unseen stress. “I have already conversed with Mr. Holmes. He has been investigating a certain affair for me.”
“I apologize, but I have no details of his current case. If you seek an update, you will have to seek it in him.”
He bowed his head. “I respect his confidentiality for my sake, but the time for secrecy has now passed. I fear I have caused more harm than good by bringing this case to Mr. Holmes’ attention.”
“I speak on my friend’s behalf when I say that Mr. Holmes is much obliged to aid you in whatever way he can. He would never turn his back on someone in need.”
“I am no longer the one in need, as it stands, Dr. Watson. I am afraid that your friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, may be in need of you now.”
I stiffened in my seat. “If that is so, then please start from the beginning.”
The young man straightened his jacket. “As I told Mr. Holmes upon our first meeting, the details that I am about to relay must not leave this room.”
“You have my word.”
“My name is Mr. Franklin Elicott. Few know my face but many know my name.”
“I am aware of you,” I confessed.
“Then you see why this is a sensitive matter.”
“I would have treated it as such regardless of your name.”
“For that I thank you. You know of my business?”
I scribbled a few notes, as was my place when Holmes led the interrogation. “Your steel manufacturing has Carnegie working double time to keep ahead.”
“You flatter me with the comparison.”
“Do the concerns that bring you here have something to do with your profession or is this a personal matter?”
Mr. Elicott spotted our cigar box. “May I?”
After a swift light and puff, he answered, “Unfortunately I have stumbled upon an affair that mingles a bit of the personal and professional, which is why I needed someone of Mr. Holmes’ standing and ethics to clear it for me.”
“I will endeavor to fill his shoes, though his size exceeds mine.”
“You seem of the highest quality, Dr. Watson.”
“Then if I please you, regale your story.”
An exhale of smoke began his tale. “You may have heard that my father passed on two years ago now.”
“I was sorry to hear it.”
“The company fell to me and I took great pains to keep up the glory that my father had bestowed upon me. Yet I soon found our balances floundering, with no explanation as to where I went wrong. I delved into my late father’s life in the hopes of uncovering his secrets to success. That is where I discovered the foundation of our fortune, but it was not as honest as I would have liked.
“For many years my father had been recruiting the help of moles, skimming materials from our competitors, and selling the goods as his own for pure profit. I could never condone such behavior, and yet we would turn bankrupt without it. The downfall of Elicott Steel would not only ruin me, but ruin the lives of all my employees.
“I made a dangerous decision, one that I very much regret. I contacted the traitors within the other companies and continued the operation for a time. Yet I couldn’t bear the outbursts of my own conscience.
“After only a few months, I ended the treachery. Mr. Holmes has helped me free my neck from the noose."
"Then all is well?"
"I regret to say that it is not, and I truly believe that only an associate of Mr. Sherlock Holmes will be able to resolve the rest of this issue.”
“If I may ask, has Mr. Holmes encountered a problem in the case? Has he sent for me?”
“No, Dr. Watson, I send for you, because I have word that your friend is in peril, and I am to blame.”
To be continued in Sherlock Holmes: The Confidant 2...
© 2021 by Kelsey Garber