Victorian England, 1880—Sherlock Holmes is at it again! But this time, instead of his faithful chronicler Watson at the helm, his tales come from another source…Mrs. Hudson, the housekeeper. A new set of tales for a new generation, Sherlock Holmes is given to us in a whole new light: “The Great Detective” before he became great. From their first meeting to her place as a permanent resident of Baker Street, Mrs. Hudson helps us rediscover the ever-logical detective who has become a literary icon.
Some months into my employment with Mr. Holmes, though I had been warned of the certain dangers which might befall Baker Street, I attempted to keep the house as routine and ordinary as possible, drawing no attention to the fact that he was a private detective. I had grown accustomed to his want for quiet, though from time to time we would spend an evening by the fire discussing London and its troubles. I was also aware of Mr. Holmes coming and going often, and occasionally the serenade of his violin. On this particular morning, Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson had left early and without breakfast, as is their custom in times of difficulty. I was going about the upper rooms dusting, when I heard the front door open and close. Believing it to be my master, I made my way down the staircase. I called out his name, but there was no answer. Assuming he had not heard me, I called out again on the stairs. “Mr. Holmes?” I turned a corner near his study, for I had heard sounds there, and pushed open the door; no one appeared. I followed the sound into the front sitting room, but came too late before I heard the front door open and close again.
I went to the window, disconcerted. Instead of Mr. Holmes, there stood a man of unusual height, with a pale, sickly complexion, a wicked grin spread across his face. I came out to the porch as he turned away, halted by a pistol pointed directly at my heart.
“If you attempt to pursue me, I will kill you,” he whispered menacingly, his malicious stare boring into my very soul. I blinked, and in that moment he disappeared.
I raced back into the house and sent a messenger for Mr. Holmes at once. Shaken, I awaited my master’s return with a deep sense of dread. Within the hour Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson were back at Baker Street, anticipating my explanations.
“Are you well, Martha?” asked Mr. Holmes, looking at me closely.
“Yes, I am unharmed…but I fear that something has been stolen from the house.”
“Watson, please begin a thorough search of the house—I will join you presently,” my master directed, and then asked me to explain.
When I had done so, Mr. Holmes’s brows furrowed. Deep in thought, he said, “There are few things in this house that would be of consequence, but I can think of some. Would you be able to describe the intruder to me should it come to that?”
I nodded, thinking hard. Then an idea struck me. “Rupert Hudson… He is an artist. Call upon him, and perhaps from my description he can give you your man.”
Mr. Holmes nodded and once a messenger was sent to fetch Rupert, we all three began to search the lower rooms. After an hour of exhaustive investigation, Mr. Holmes sighed, saying, “I hope that your artist can work well and quickly. Some letters have been stolen which are quite precious to me.” My heart beat nervously, and I prayed that we were not too late.
“But how did he get in?” I asked.
“I’m not sure…but thieves do have their ways.” He bent down near the door, his nose nearly touching the floor.
“Is there something there, sir?”
“How very odd.” Mr. Holmes held up his hand, squinting in the lamplight. Resting in his fingers was a thin piece of steel.
“There is nothing so strange about that, Mr. Holmes,” I said, smiling. “It probably came from a loose nail hanging in the wall. See? That picture has fallen again.” I crossed the room and picked up one of the few landscape paintings we had in the old house; being near the door, it had a tendency to fall when the door opened on a blustery day.
“Perhaps,” he replied with a shrug of his shoulders, slipping the piece into his pocket.