"Pshaw, my dear fellow, what do the public, the great unobservant public, who hardly tell a weaver by his tooth or a compositor by his left thumb, care about the finer shades of analysis and deduction! But, indeed, if you are trivial. I cannot blame you, for the days of the great cases are past. Man, or at least criminal man, has lost all enterprise and originality. As to my own little practice, it seems to be degenerating into an agency for recovering lost lead pencils and giving advice to young ladies from boarding-schools. I think that I have touched bottom at last, however. This note I had this morning marks my zero-point, I fancy. Read it!" He tossed a crumpled letter across to me.
It was dated from Montague Place upon the preceding evening, and ran thus:
DEAR MR. HOLMES:-I am very anxious to consult as to whether I should or should not accept a situation which has been offered to me as governess. I shall call at half-past ten to-morrow if I do not inconvenience you.
"I begin to think, Watson," said Holmes, "that I make a mistake in explaining. 'Omne ignotum pro magnifico,' you know, and my poor little reputation, such as it is, will suffer shipwreck if I am so candid."
"We sat in silence for some minutes, Holmes more depressed and
shaken than I had ever seen him.
"That hurts my pride, Watson," he said at last. "It is a petty feeling, no
doubt, but it hurts my pride. It becomes a personal matter with me now,
and, if God sends me health, I shall set my hand upon this gang. That he
should come to me for help, and that I should send him away to his
death—!" He sprang from his chair and paced about the room in uncontrollable
agitation, with a flush upon his sallow cheeks and a nervous
clasping and unclasping of his long thin hands."