Sherlock Holmes: The Confidant 2
If you missed part 1, find it here.
“No, Dr. Watson, I send for you, because I have word that your friend is in peril, and I am to blame.”
In this moment worry clouded my sensibilities and I regret to say that my etiquette faltered. “What have you done to cause such a blunder? Mr. Holmes rarely faces an issue in his workings. He plans too far ahead for mistakes to occur.”
“His mistake was involving himself at all,” Mr. Elicott admitted. “My predicament was less of a mystery and more of a dilemma. A detective is hardly what I needed, yet I knew not where to turn.
“Once I decided to abandon the double-dealings of my father, many of the men involved in the scandalous operation disapproved of my moral high ground. Mr. Elicott Sr. had bestowed quite a lot of money on them and it was not the sort of income they were prepared to lose. I was contacted with threats and blackmail that would be put into effect unless I proceeded with the criminal enterprise.
“This is when I sought Mr. Sherlock Holmes. My previous visit to these quarters I sat where you sit now, Dr. Watson. You had travelled to Cambridge on business, according to your flat mate. I described my plight to Mr. Holmes and for a time he seemed less than interested. I cannot blame him for this. It could be argued that this mess of my own making is exactly what I deserve after dealing in such duplicity. This was the opinion of Mr. Holmes.
“‘I do not condone such careless behavior,’ he said.
“‘Nor do I, which is why I endeavor to clear myself of it.’ I told him.
“Mr. Holmes was hardly impressed with my desperation. “‘If you would truly like my counsel, Mr. Elicott, I would advise you to come forward to the public about your wrongdoing and your intentions to rectify it. Your deceptive cohorts will then have no means of extorting your cooperation and Elicott Steel will sustain its upstanding reputation.’
“‘This may mend the rift within my company, but these men have strategies in place for such a bold move. They know my life and my family. There is much more at stake than the loss of industry. If I seek an alternative other than continuing the treachery, I fear the worst may occur.’
“‘The worst already has. You entangled yourself in a web of transgression and expected little consequence. I have collaborated with a wide array of clientele and the ones with wavering principles are generally the ones I escort to Scotland Yard.’
“His candor struck me to the bone, yet I could not dispute his nobility. ‘Do you plan to have me arrested, Mr. Holmes?’ I asked.
“He pressed his fingers to his chin, appearing to be in an attitude of prayer. I thought he must be conferring with God in order to lay appropriate judgement on me.”
I briefly interjected into Mr. Elicott’s story. “Holmes is the sort of man to only look to his own ideals for guidance, not to the divine intervention of a higher power. What you witnessed was deliberation, not reverence.”
“Even so,” Mr. Elicott went on, “your companion achieved a more elevated state of mind than any of which I have ever been attuned. His disinterest washed away and left only an eager gleam in his eye.
“‘Start from the beginning again,’ he urged me. ‘This time spare no detail and worry not about the time. Even the most insignificant feature could be of interest to me.’”
I interrupted Mr. Elicott once more. “May I have the details exactly as you imparted them to Mr. Holmes?”
“That was my intention. I started with the discovery of my father’s dealings. While filing through his records, I came upon a ledger with many odd names and numbers scrolled across its pages. I spent considerable time deciphering the meanings, and eventually interpreted the columns of numbers as quantities matched with prices and payoffs. It soon became clear that these profits were outside of the official books. Yet my father used aliases for the men involved, making it impossible to track down the guilty parties.”
“Then how did you find out that these men were employees at rival companies?” I asked.
Mr. Elicott chuckled. “Your companion Mr. Holmes put a very similar question to me the first time around. You are a worthy replacement after all.”
“Hardly, but I will do what I can.”
My visitor went on, “I deduced their connection with my opponents once I aligned with them. I still only know them by coded names, such as Priest, Redbird, and Rome. There were more that fade from memory now, but at the time I listed every one for Mr. Holmes and he logged them to mind with the highest captivation.”
“Do you not still have the ledger to which you can refer?” I asked.
“Mr. Holmes commandeered it for his investigation. He took possession of all my belongings relating to the case.
“After studying this ledger to its fullest, I found an address tucked at the back of the book. A meeting place, it seemed, since the resident was vacant when I approached it. For a time I ignored all this, wishing not to tarnish my father’s memory and wanting no part in uncouth affairs. Yet when my company fell into decline, I had to attempt any course of action to save it.
“I composed a letter explaining my needs and left it at the mysterious, empty house from the ledger. For all I knew, the envelope would spend years gathering dust on the foyer table. Yet within three days, my paranoia got the better of me and I returned to the house with the intent to take my letter back, but on the table, my missive had been removed and a new correspondence rested in its place.
“Within this letter, only a short message resided.
“At that time the tenth of October was only two days away. I awaited the date with heightened nerves, unsure what would come. When that fateful day arrived and I returned to the house, the goods from my competitors were there for the taking. Temptation got the better of me and my second life as a criminal began.”
To be continued in Sherlock Holmes: The Confidant 3...
© 2021 by Kelsey Garber