Sherlock Holmes: The Confidant 3
“Whenever I turned the profits for the stolen goods, forty percent would be returned to my conspirators. The sixty percent into my own pocket was still a hefty sum. I dropped their cut at the secret address and it would always be gone when I returned.
“With each shipment, a note with a drawing would help me track which man from the ledger had supplied me. A sketch of a redbird, or of a church to denote the Priest. There was also a drawing of a monocle that stood for Spectacles in the ledger, now I recall. As I mentioned, there were many names and always a picture to accompany them.
“My principles began to interfere long before I actually stopped the proceedings. I sat across from my wife and daughter every night knowing that I was not being the man they wanted me to be. I finally left a last correspondence at the house detailing my cancellation of the project.
“I checked everyday for a fortnight and no response came. Then finally I returned to find more stolen steel for the picking, with another note:
3355 Elm Row
“No more explanation was needed.”
I piped up, “I would like a bit more, if you don’t mind. Is this another secret meeting place?”
Mr. Elicott shook his head. “This is my home address. The moles knew where I lived.”
“Can you move house?”
“I did, Dr. Watson. Twice. Each time I would receive another letter with the new address. These men clearly had eyes on me though I had no eyes on them.
“The last straw came when I arrived at the ledger address one day to drop off the money to my partners in crime. As I stepped over the threshold, my young daughter, only ten years of age, Isabelle, met me at the door. She had been inside the house. In horror, I searched the place up and down but she was, in fact, alone.
“‘What are you doing here, darling?’ I asked her.
“She showed me a letter of the same nature as the mole correspondence with the secret address across it, asking her to come at once. She said she found it folded within the covers of her bed. The men blackmailing me had been in my home, in my daughters bedroom, and lured her to the meeting place. I shudder to think what might have befallen her had I not shown.
“‘I assumed it came from you,’ she told me.
“I rushed her out as quickly as I could and dropped her off with trusted friends, where she still remains. I didn’t disclose the exact residence with Mr. Holmes and I apologize that I will not tell you of it either. My trust is sorely lacking as of late and, when it comes to my daughter, I have to ensure her safety. Her current whereabouts should not have any bearing on the case.”
“I understand,” I said. “I have no need of that information. I would rather hear what occurred after this incident, leading up to your meeting with Mr. Sherlock Holmes.”
“There is not much else to tell. Once Isabelle was in safe hands, the next part of my journey brought me here. That is when I relayed this tale to Mr. Holmes and he commandeered the rest of it. I knew I needed outside help once my daughter came so close to danger.”
“What did Mr. Holmes say once he heard all?”
“He accepted the case,” Mr. Elicott said in disbelief. “After all my confessions, he assured me that all would be well soon. He would make sure of it.
“Mr. Holmes required the use of the ledger, and every letter written from the moles, and I gladly obliged. He instructed me not to return to the secret meeting place until given clearance by him, so I went about my business and entrusted everything to him. This was five days ago.
“Impatience eventually got the better of me, when I failed to receive any updates from your friend. I peeked into the secret house this morning to find one more letter from my blackmailers. I have it here now.”
Mr. Elicott handed a fine parchment over to me with a concise message scrolled across the center:
221B Baker Street
“I should never have contacted Mr. Holmes,” Mr. Elicott went on. “I knew they were watching me. I have only offered them more leverage, and put you and your companion at risk.”
“This truly is ominous,” I admitted with a shaking voice. “However, we have not had any threats on us yet, that I am aware of, and there is no reason to think that Holmes is not out pursuing the case as we speak, as is his way. He may very well have the situation handled.”
Mr. Elicott searched in the inner pocket of his jacket. “I have known your friend for a short time, but he does not seem like the sort of man that would part with this willingly.” He presented Holmes’ favorite pipe, the one remained on his person at all times.
“Where was this found?” I asked.
“Set on the foyer table beside this note. I believe it was proof that they intend to act on their threats, though I never doubted it for a moment.”
“You suspect Mr. Holmes was taken by these fiends?”
“Do you not?”
“Surely, all these details send a foreboding through me. Yet I also know Holmes rather well. There have been many occasions where things were not what they appeared.”
“I hope for Mr. Holmes’ sake that is the case,” Mr. Elicott said. “But I fear the worst. I want to help your friend in whatever way I can, and I will continue the criminal operation to keep him safe, for now. But I am out of my depth when it comes to identifying these masterminds and putting a stop to them. I’m hoping, as Mr. Holmes’ companion, your expertise will be enough to carry you through.”
“My companion is possibly in peril and though I appreciate your trust in me, I cannot risk his life on my limited knowledge of the criminal world. This needs to be taken to the police before anyone else is hurt.”
“They are watching me and there is a chance they are watching you, Dr. Watson. If Mr. Holmes is currently unharmed, and I pray that he is, involving the police could change that fate for the worse.”
Reluctant and shaken to the bone, I pushed to my feet, attempting to stand as tall as my six-foot detective friend. “Please show me to this secret meeting place so that I can judge further.”
To be continued in Sherlock Holmes: The Confidant 4...
© 2021 by Kelsey Garber