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“I DON’T comprehend how slaves can be brought into England. There are rules. Customs officials take a most dim view of abusing the law.” Mycroft Holmes had finished eating and was sitting, sprawled in a posture most unlike himself, on the small divan under the window.

“I have heard tales of bribery,” said Mister Kerem cautiously.

“Bribery, poppycock!” Mycroft Holmes protested. “It’s one thing to look the other way for a handful of gems or to plate gold in brass in order to pay a lower duty on it. But human beings are not such objects. They act. They speak. They must have food and shelter.”

“All this can be managed with planning,” said Mister Kerem, dismissing Holmes’ protestation with a wave of his hand.

“But you cannot be accusing Customs officials of overlooking something so egregious as this,” Mycroft Holmes exclaimed.

Listening to him, I began to wonder why my employer had roused me so early. Surely this discussion, as upsetting as it was, could have waited until morning. Then I thought of the courier in the back of the flat and I knew there was more at stake here than was readily apparent. I was puzzled by the two events, for they had no apparent connection, yet from my work with Mycroft Holmes I had learned to be suspicious of anything presented as a coincidence. And that unfortunate young officer was proof that whatever lay behind these events was extremely serious. So I made myself listen to Halil Kerem, paying close attention to all I heard, certain that he would reveal the nature of his connection to the courier, no matter how tenuous it might be.

“So I was determined to find my brother,” Mister Kerem said as he neared the end of his account. “I booked passage to London and arrived to discover he had disappeared.”

Mycroft Holmes frowned. “You must have been aware that something of the sort could happen,” he said, leaning forward as if implying his sympathy was colored by his opinion of the Turks—which it was, but not in the way Holmes’ behavior would give one to assume.

“When searching for my brother,” said Mister Kerem with great feeling, “I cannot be turned back by complications or disappointments.”

“No; no of course not,” said Mycroft Holmes, and looked up at the sound of the bell. “Tyers is still out, I suppose?” He looked at me. “Guthrie, would you be good enough ...”

I put the remains of my breakfast aside and rose, saying, “Of course.”

“I apologize for this interruption, Mister Kerem. The Admiralty has some business that needs my prompt attention.” He motioned me away as the doorbell summoned me again.

I left the study and went down the hallway, hoping as I went that this early caller would be Doctor Watson returning. But as I opened the door, I saw I had been mistaken. There, in full evening dress and with a shining German order blazing on a scarlet sash, stood Edmund Sutton. All I could do was open the door and say, “Good morning, sir.”

He stepped inside and said to me in very good German, “Good morning to you, my good man. Is Mister Holmes available?”

I answered in the same language. “He is with someone just now. If you would like to wait in the sitting room?” I indicated the way as if Sutton did not know it. “Whom shall I say is calling?” I was curious to hear the answer; I nodded toward the settee near the fire where a few embers still burned, making little headway against the morning chill.

“Say that Graf von Mutigheit is here,” he told me without so much as the hint of a smile. “I will have a brandy, if you will.”

I had to bite back a retort. “Of course, sir,” I said, pretending to be Tyers, and left him. Before I fetched the brandy, I stopped in the study. “Graf von Mutigheit is here, sir,” I told Mycroft Holmes. “He asked for a brandy.”

“Then by all means get him one,” said Mycroft Holmes with a kind of fussiness I might expect of a minor official, not a man who was near the apex of power in Britain.

“At once,” I said, and was about to withdraw when Holmes stopped me.

‘Tell the Graf that I will be with him in twenty minutes,” he said, and glanced at Mister Kerem. “That will be sufficient for now, will it not?”

“Most certainly,” said Mister Kerem with an expression that conveyed the opposite. “I am grateful that you have heard me at all.”

“Oh, no need for that,” said Mycroft Holmes with every show of modesty. “I’m a public servant don’t you know. It is my duty to listen to all complaints.”

With this fulsome sentiment ringing in my ears, I went to get Sutton his brandy. I did not linger in the kitchen, but poured out some of the best into a snifter, put it on a tray, and took it to the sitting room at the front of the flat. “With Mister Holmes’ compliments and his assurance he will be with you in twenty minutes,” I said in English.

“Very good,” Sutton said, using a heavy German accent as he took the snifter. I saw he had flung his cloak over the back of the high-backed arm-chair in the corner, and although he must have been cold, seemed to be very much at his ease. If anyone were watching, they would be wholly persuaded by his performance. “You may go.”

I bowed slightly and withdrew, thinking as I did that as recently as a year ago, I would have found his manner offensive and would have asked for an apology. But now I appreciated the value of these personae he invented; I no longer bristled at Sutton, for it now was obvious to me that the roles he played were the same as those he played in the theatre, but without the benefit of direction or script.

Once again I entered the study and once again I saw Mycroft Holmes doing his utmost to seem self-effacing and perhaps a bit ineffectual. I went and took up my portfolio again, beginning to write on the foolscap pad I kept in it.

“I can’t think of anything more I can do, Mister Kerem,” Mycroft Holmes was saying. “I will, of course, request that a finding be sent to the Turkish government when we have completed our investigation, but until then, I fear I am not going to be much assistance to you.” He opened his hands to show how helpless he was; I did my best to stifle a laugh. “Bless you, dear boy,” Holmes said, as if I had sneezed.

“Thank you, sir,” I mumbled. I should not have had such a lapse, I realized. Sutton would be very disappointed in me.

“I fear I must soon give the Graf his assigned hour,” said Mycroft Holmes. “I apologize for any inconvenience this may give you, but you see, the Graft’s appointment is of long-standing.”

“No, no. You need make no excuses. I understand perfectly,” said Mister Kerem. “I am grateful to have had so much of your time, and I thank you for it.” He paused. “Do you think there is any chance my brother might be found?”

“Early days yet, Mister Kerem,” said Holmes with a shake of his head. “Still, something must be done.”

“Allah is great,” said Mister Kerem.

“Make a memo, Guthrie, to the effect that Mister Kerem’s claims must be investigated, and as quickly as may be. If he is right, and there are slaves coming into England, Her Majesty’s government must not tolerate it.” He sounded more bluster than intention, but I duly made the note and kept my eye on Halil Kerem.

“Well, it is the best I can hope for,” Mister Kerem said heavily. “I suppose I must content myself with your assurances.”

“I will do as much as any man in my position can,” said Mycroft Holmes, in a voice I knew was genuine, no matter how overwhelmed his manner suggested he was.

“For that I thank you,” said Mister Kerem, beginning to pull on his shoes. “And thank you for your kindness. I did not know how hard walking would be.” His laughter was brittle. When he finished buttoning his shoes, he got to his feet. “And thank you for this early morning meal. I had not realized how hungry I had become.”

“Feeding the hungry is a virtue,” Mycroft Holmes said with a piety I knew he did not feel.

Mister Kerem did not notice, for he said in perfect seriousness, “In both our faiths.”

Mycroft Holmes rose. “If you wish reports on the progress of the Admiralty’s investigation, you will learn more from that office than in applying to me. I can but put the gears in motion,” he said.

“Thank you. I will,” said Mister Kerem. “Now I will leave you to your German visitor.”

“You are very good,” said Mycroft Holmes in a manner that was as enigmatic as it was correct. He signaled me with a quick, covert sign.

I rose to escort the Turk to the door. “You may find a cab at the corner,” I told him as I opened the front door.

Mister Kerem craned his neck in an attempt to look into the sitting room, and in that instant I was aware of the wisdom of Edmund Sutton’s maintaining his German character. Had he made himself as comfortable as he was wont to do, Mister Kerem might well question the story he had been told only a few minutes ago. Finally he gave up, having had little more than a glimpse of Sutton. “The corner, you say?”

“Yes. You can spare yourself more discomfort if you don’t walk too far on that blister,” I said, feeling nervous, remembering how the courier came to be shot on the rear steps.

“True enough,” said Halil Kerem, and put on his hat. In the first morning light, he cast a very long shadow.

For some reason I could not define, I was relieved to close the door on him.

Mycroft Holmes emerged from the study with an expression of aggravation on his powerful visage. There was now no trace of the timorous functionary about him. He put his hand on the doorframe and leaned on it. “What do you suppose that was all about?” he asked me.

“A Turk wanting to bring something to the government’s attention?” I said, knowing it was not the answer my employer had in mind.

“Don’t be daft, my boy. This was far more subtle than it appeared. That man sought me out, not the government, not the Admiralty: me. He had a purpose of his own.” He stared at the framed maps on the wall opposite the door. “Most perplexing.”

“No matter what the truth may be,” I agreed; I could not rid myself of the sinister impression I had of Mister Halil Kerem. “And your behavior was also a bit ... misleading.”

“Misleading in what sense?” asked Holmes with the innocence of a babe.

“One would have thought you could not free a cur from the dogcatcher, as the saying has it,” I said, a bit curtly.

Holmes smiled. “Well, do you know, Guthrie, when someone tries as hard as Mister Kerem to manipulate me, I want to reduce his hopes of any success in such matters.”

I nodded. “Yes. And yet, I cannot help but suppose that there is more to it than you have intimated; your suspicions are roused, and you are on guard.”

“How perceptive you are,” said Mycroft Holmes, then straightened up. “How is the courier?”

“I have not checked him in the last several minutes,” I admitted. “I did not like the look of him when I went to see him.” I sighed. “He said something very strange: That’s the other Holmes. He claims he heard it just before he was shot.” I stopped, then offered my theory. “It strikes me the reference was to your brother. If he, indeed, heard anything.”

“An odd phrase to imagine; still, it may or may not have any bearing on his misfortune,” said Mycroft Holmes, coming into the hallway. “I assume Sutton has arrived?”

“Grand as a Hapsburg and as gaudy,” I said, smiling my appreciation. “Mister Kerem had a brief look at him. I think he was impressed at such a splendid fellow.”

“The Graf von Mutigheit?” Holmes surged past me, his hand out in welcome. “Good morning, Sutton. Or should I say Graf?” He gave the actor a quick perusal. “Very good.”

“For an improvisation, superior,” said Sutton in the manner of the Graf. “I was nonplused when I saw the cock, I can tell you,” he added in his own forthcoming way. “There has been some trouble, has there?”

“An Admiralty courier was shot coming up the rear steps last night,” said Mycroft Holmes, looking tired as he spoke.

“Gracious!” Sutton exclaimed, no trace of the Graf left in him. “Seriously?”

“I am afraid so. Tyers fetched Watson.” Holmes went toward the window and looked down at the early morning activity in Pall Mall. “I am not at all sanguine about it,” he said. “Not with the Brotherhood trying to establish itself in Britain again.”

“You have proof?” Sutton was alarmed, but he also sounded intrigued.

“I believe so,” he said, and looked around as he heard a door slam at the rear of the flat. “If you will excuse me—” He swung around and started for the kitchen.

Perforce, Sutton and I followed after him.

Tyers met us in the kitchen. “Doctor Watson returned,” he said without preamble. “He is with the courier now.”

“Very good,” Mycroft Holmes approved. “Have you been to the Admiralty yet?”

“No. I want to give them a report on the courier.” Tyers went to the sink and refilled the kettle with water. “I am in need of tea. May I make some for you gentlemen?”

Mycroft Holmes nodded, and I was relieved, for I could feel myself begin to slump. “What did Watson say?”

“Only that he should not be disturbed while he is working on the lad.” Tyers poked up the firebox and added more fuel to it. “This should not be long.”

Sutton occupied himself by unpinning the order and sash from his evening clothes. “I think I had best change into something less conspicuous.” He glanced at Mycroft Holmes. “If you will not need me for twenty minutes?”

“Go ahead. And you, Guthrie. Take Tyers’ razor and shave; you might consider purchasing a second kit and leaving it here, as you do your change of clothes. You are beginning to look quite disreputable.” He smiled to show he was joking.

“An excellent notion,” I said, rubbing my stubbled chin. “I had nearly forgot.”

“You know where I keep my razors, sir,” said Tyers, a bit preoccupied; I realized that he wanted a word alone with Mycroft Holmes and did not want to say so directly. Had I been fully awake, I would have seen this at once.

“That I do, and thank you, Tyers.” I swung around and started out of the kitchen, Sutton right behind me.

We were both bound for the dressing room that connected Mycroft Holmes’ bedroom with the bathroom. Sutton shrugged out of his coat and began working the studs out of his shirt before we reached it; I had come to see this skill at rapid changing of clothes as one of the unusual benefits of his profession.

“He’s worried,” Sutton remarked as he entered the dressing room.

I opened the drawer that contained Tyers’ grooming and toilet items. There were three razors and I chose the one with the horn handle. “Yes. He is.”

“He doesn’t want us to worry,” Sutton went on, his voice muffled as he continued undressing.

I went back to the bathroom, leaving the adjoining door open so that Sutton and I could continue our conversation. “That’s obvious,” I said as I got the lather-mug and the brush and started to stir.

“Is it just the Brotherhood, or is there more to it?” Sutton asked.

“I don’t know,” I replied, annoyed at myself for not being more on the qui vive.

“Then there is,” said Sutton. A shoe clumped to the floor; a moment later so did the second.

“I suppose you’re right,” I said as I began to lather my face while staring in the mirror. There were circles under my eyes, seeming to be different shades because my left eye is blue and my right eye is green. I was vaguely aware that there was a touch of grey at my temples, hardly more than a few strands, but still, I thought. I had turned thirty-four in May; my mother had been far greyer when she was my age. This notion did not console me, for I knew I still had much to do in my life, and wanted no reminders of my mortality: gunshots and assassins took care of that only too well. I put the mug down, opened the razor, and set to work.

“Who is the Turk?” Sutton asked a bit later.

I was doing the short strokes under my nose, and so did not answer at once. “He claims his brother was brought to England, the victim of reverse white slavery,” I said as I rinsed the razor and went to work on the area at the corner of my mouth.

“That sounds a bit far-fetched,” said Sutton.

“So it does,” I agreed when I could speak safely.

“Do you believe him?” Sutton asked.

“I suppose so—to the extent that I believe his brother is missing and may have been taken for immoral purposes,” I said, tipping my head back and scraping at my under-jaw and neck.

“What does Holmes think?” Sutton waited for my answer, which was just as well, as I had to consider it while I shaved.

“He hasn’t confided in me,” I said. “But he was playing a role for Mister Kerem—you would have been proud of him—and I am convinced he had an excellent reason for doing so; he explained his intention to me after Kerem departed.”

“What kind of role?” Sutton asked, emerging from the dressing room in golfing breeches and a roll-top pull-over as if he had just come in from the country and would soon be going back.

I had become somewhat accustomed to his periodic transformations and so I only glanced at him briefly before finishing my shave. “You would have thought he spent every day in an office, dealing with nothing but paperwork.”

“Well,” said Sutton with a hint of a smile. “That is what he intends people to think generally. That is why he hired me.”

“Yes, and established the appearance of a monotonously regular life,” I conceded. “This was more than his usual illusion. He seemed reckless, even timorous, incapable of any real action.”

“And you think he did it deliberately?” Sutton handed a towel to me.

I used it on my face and neck. “Yes. I do. As you would have done had you seen him.” I put the towel into the hamper and closed my collar-button once again, then went to work on my tie.

“I wonder why,” Sutton mused aloud.

Anything I might have said was lost; Tyers rapped on the outer bathroom door. “If you please, gentlemen, Mister Holmes would like you to join him in the withdrawing room.”

That very formal chamber at the front of the flat was rarely used for any discussion among us, so I supposed we were to expect a visitor. I reached for my suit-coat and pulled it on as I went out into the hall, Sutton close behind me.

“Whom do you think is coming?” Sutton pondered aloud. “I was told nothing about a visitor.”

“Nor I,” I said as we reached the withdrawing room.

Although I had half-suspected an August Personage, I saw that we had a fastidious man of late middle-age seated on the sopha. This was not Doctor John Watson, who was no stranger to any of us, but another man, who also had the look of the medical professional. He did not rise as we entered the room, but instead subjected us to a swift, intense scrutiny.

“Gentlemen,” said Mycroft Holmes, as if he had only just become aware of our presence, “if you would be good enough: this is Sir Marmion Hazeltine, come to offer his researches to us.”

Sir Marmion’s name was not unknown to me, given all Mycroft Holmes had told me. I nodded my respects to him. “I have long admired your work, Sir Marmion,” I said, hoping Holmes did not mind my speaking up in this way.

The answer accorded me by Sir Marmion was a terse, “Most kind,” before he turned to study Mycroft Holmes’ face. “You have a most extraordinary skull, Mister Holmes, if you will permit me to say it.” He did not smile, but there was a lessening of the severity of his features, which seemed to be the most he would permit himself to demonstrate.

“From an expert of your reputation, Sir Marmion, what can I be but flattered?” said Holmes as he sat back in his chair. He indicated that Sutton and I should both be seated. “As to the matter before us, I must hope your researches have produced results?”

“In time, Mister Holmes. In time. For the nonce, I am gathering data—and I thank you for your efforts in that regard—and hoping to have reached useful conclusions before the end of next year.” He coughed delicately. “I have been trying some of the techniques of Doktor Breuer of Vienna on the more difficult of my patients, and I have reason to think they may prove most useful in the future in alleviating the compulsion to commit crimes.”

“That is a goal worth achieving,” said Mycroft Holmes with very real sincerity.

“I hope in time we may end all crime and insanity from the human race,” said Sir Marmion.

“Hear, hear,” said Mycroft Holmes. “No doubt such a laudable goal cannot be achieved overnight, but in generations to come, we might improve ourselves to the point where we will not have those unhappy beings in such number as we seem to have now.” He folded his hands. “The new century is but eight years away. The twentieth century! The promise of it astounds me.”

“And I,” said Sir Marmion. “When we see what science has accomplished in the last fifty years, I wish I might be alive to see the next fifty.” He coughed delicately to show he was moved. “Still, that is not to the point.” He picked up a leather portfolio and opened it. “Here is the information I was asked to provide you, Mister Holmes, with citations for the material appended.”

Mycroft Holmes took the expandable folder with marbled covers Sir Marmion held out to him. “There is a deal of work in here, Sir Marmion.”

“Alas, not nearly enough. We have so little information on the nature of the human mind,” he said. “Doktor Breuer’s work leads me to believe that there is much more to be discovered in regard to how the mind shapes behavior. I think you will be especially interested in the third case described in those pages.”

“Very good. I shall study it with interest,” said Holmes.

“I know you will hold all that you read in strictest confidence,” Sir Marmion said fussily.

“Naturally. If I must discuss any of this with my colleagues here, you may rely on their discretion as surely as you may rely on mine.” He put the file down on the table behind him. “It shall not leave this flat. You have my word on that.”

“Most appreciated,” said Sir Marmion, rising abruptly. “I will not stay. You have work to do, as have I.” He went toward the door, Mycroft Holmes behind him.

Sutton and I rose as he departed.

“Works with criminals, does he?” Sutton asked quietly.

“And the mad,” I said.

Sutton cocked his head. “Um.”


The courier has just been removed from the flat, taken out by Admiralty men who arrived in a drayage wagon and brought the poor lad down in what looked like a steamer trunk, to confound any watchers that may be posted in the alley or the street. Watson is escorting him to hospital, and has agreed to monitor the young man’s case. He has said it is not a sure thing that the courier will survive, but he will make it mandatory that all efforts are made to help him. The Admiralty will keep him under guard while he recovers.

MH is most pleased, but it is not untrammeled pleasure. After his meeting with HRHE last night, this visit from Sir Marmion Hazeltine has provided the very material he has sought. MH has decided to spend the day perusing the cases Sir Marmion has brought him, although it means a slight delay in commencing the investigation of the slaving the Turkish gentleman reported; HRHE would expect MH to address the material promptly. And Sir Cameron is due in London tomorrow at noon.

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