Watson escorts Mary Morstan home, and places her on a pedastel in his mind, in a way which just right out puzzles me:
After the angelic fashion of women, she had borne trouble with a calm face as long as there was someone weaker than herself to support, and I had found her bright and placid by the side of the frightened housekeeper.
That doesn’t sound like a purely womanly characteristic, or even mostly womanly. Both men and women do this—being supportive of someone in need, in spite of one’s own fears and trauma, really comes quite naturally and may not necessarily be purely Samaratin in nature. Confusing at best, sexist at worst, but I suppose some like the romantic element.
Truly, I feel for Watson when he compares himself as a half-pay surgeon to Morstan’s possible level-up to Ultimate Heiress. He holds back because he doesn’t want to take advantage of her emotional state—which is a far nobler tact than most people would have were they in his place. Definitely no creepy stalking Edward Cullen antics here, and let’s hope it stays that way.
And as for Mrs. Cecil Forrester… well, it’s quite a warm scene when Morstan returns home:
She opened the door herself, a middle-aged, graceful woman, and it gave me joy to see how tenderly her arm stole round the other’s waist and how motherly was the voice in which she greeted her. She was clearly no mere paid dependant but an honoured friend.
Awww. The world surely needs Morstan and Forrester stories.
Now we get to the obtaining of Toby, the mongrel bloodhound, from Pinchin Lane. Mr. Sherman’s house is lovely beyond belief, and reminds me again of a Terry Pratchett character (Red Crescent, I think, from Feet of Clay, though Crescent speaks rather differently than Sherman):
“Step in, sir. Keep clear of the badger, for he bites. Ah, naughty, naughty; would you take a nip at the gentlemen?” This to a stoat which thrust its wicked head and red eyes between the bars of its cage. “Don’t mind that, sir; it’s only a slowworm. It hain’t got no fangs, so I gives it the run o’ the room, for it keeps the beetles down.”
I am amused and in love with the previous chapter and this one.
Meanwhile, Sergeant Colon has arrested everybody save for Holmes.
I’m not sure what the card hanging from Holmes’ neck is for, but watching him spryly climb up and around the roof is real entertainment, especially when he comes to a rather high point where the murdererous assistant leapt down, wonders if he’ll make it, and then goes down the rainpipe anyways.
Doyle doesn’t completely ignore Watson’s game leg or pretend it doesn’t exist, I notice. This is good and relatively realistic: the pain when the weather’s bad. This is weird: a six-mile trudge presents no problems, although it’s implied that it merely presents no problems at that time and he still limps. At another time, Watson might well have been incapacitated. But Watson wants adventure, is my impression, so he’ll ignore and not write about any pain.
Toby follows the scent of the creosote one of the murderous team accidentally stepped in, Holmes gives an accounting of what must have happened with Jonathan Small, Arthur Morstan, Sholto Sr. There must have been someone else too, else why “the sign of the four”?
And then Toby leads them to a barrel of creosote, instead of continuing down the scent of the murderers, and Holmes and Watson have a good laugh.
This and the previous chapter are quintessential Holmes fiction. Lovely when it works. Let’s hope this keeps up, and I suspect it will, though there’s probably some misrepresentation trouble at the end, given how the titles of the chapters are laid out (“The Death of the Islander” is the one I’m eyeing).