Unfortunately we did not get far. Lestrade caught up with us before we got entirely out of the alley, and we were obliged to give him the information.
"Are we still going?" I asked.
"No," Holmes sighed, looking disappointed at having been cheated out of the thrill of the chase. "I will let Lestrade have this one. If they find him, there should be sufficient evidence to send him to prison for the assault of that woman… Miss Kelly, I think they said her name was. If not, we will see to it."
"All right then." I had my hands in my pockets so he wouldn't see them shaking.
The following morning Lestrade returned to our lodgings, in a temper that rivaled Holmes.
"We caught him and had to let him go." He growled, throwing his hat at the wall. "Traced him back to his boat, and all his friends jumped all over each other to assure us that he'd been with them all evening. Of course they were all lying. They knew it, too, but it didn't seem to bother 'em that they could be letting a murderer run free. And we can't prove anything."
"I saw him," I pointed out.
"At a distance, though, and they claimed to have been with him all night."
"Can't mistake those eyes, though," I said amiably.
"No," Lestrade said, seemingly chagrinned to be in agreement with me. "They gave me the creeps."
We both looked at Holmes, who had his own eyes closed, and his hands folded behind his head. I shrugged. Lestrade muttered something and left. I picked his hat up off the floor and followed him downstairs to return it. Holmes remained in his thoughts for about fifteen minutes or so before sitting bolt upright and putting a question to me.
"How do you think last night's events affected Jacoby? Emotionally?"
I leaned against the doorway to my room, folding my arms. "He's probably angry that I spoiled his fun, and he might be scared that he came that close to being arrested."
"Undoubtedly," he replied, lighting a cigarette. "You have learned a great deal about the criminal mind lately. Delve into it, and tell me what you find."
I stared at the ceiling in thought. "He might skip out on us, or he might do something really stupid that'll get him caught. Something rash."
"Excellent. I do not think that he will see flight as an option, though of course, however unlikely, I could be mistaken." He picked up his violin.
Always humble, I thought. "So you're fiddling while Rome burns?"
"No, I merely lie in wait. Have you read Colonel Moran's book on tiger hunting? We are the hunter waiting for the tiger to appear, and Captain Walter Jacoby is our tiger."
That was all well and good, but he was neglecting the most essential piece of the Colonel's tiger trap: a goat, the bait.
The next few days were very quiet. I felt that they were too quiet; had I been back in the United States I would have been sure of an imminent Indian attack, but in London, there were none to be found, unless you counted those on my few remaining American coins.
The weather turned nasty, too. It warmed up enough to rain, and for days on end the sky dumped buckets upon buckets of water on us. Holmes and I were not afraid of getting wet, and often took walks in the rain, without much protection from the elements, something that Watson frowned upon, he told me. Finally the rain ceased and the sun hazarded a look out at the world below. We went out again for a bit of air, and we had not gotten far before Holmes was besieged by a feeble-looking man whom he addressed as Musgrave.
They went back apparently, for I had seldom seen Holmes that pleased to see someone. Perhaps had the circumstances of their meeting been different, he might have reacted that way to Watson's appearance, but as it was the situation was quite awkward. Anyway, I was introduced to Reginald Musgrave, and then I drifted away, sensing that I was not wanted. There was a flower vendor nearby; normally I am not keen on bouquets, but for lack of anything better to do, I could look at dried roses.
I just had time to register a shocked look on the vendor's face before I was grabbed from behind and slammed up against the brick wall of the nearby building. Then I found myself looking into Jacoby's spooky eyes.
"You ruined it last time," he said. "She didn't even die."
There was the knife at my throat, making me leery of replying, but as no one was rushing to my aid, I took that chance. "She still might. You did a lot of damage."
"Not enough. If you hadn't made all that noise I would have painted the street with her. But I'll do that with you, and take your kidneys."
There were some exclamations from the people who were watching, and the flower vendor dropped a bucket on Jacoby's head. Off balance, he flailed his hands in the air, taking me out of immediate danger, but narrowly missing my nose. Hearing the commotion, Holmes and Musgrave reappeared. I kicked Jacoby's knee, sending him back. Holmes rushed over and grabbed his knife arm, causing some of the men to remember that they could move and offer much-needed help.
Crazy people have unusual strength, and he was a strong person anyway. I didn't see Musgrave, but suddenly he reappeared with police, and finally the fiend was apprehended. I leaned back against the building I had been held against to take a breath. The flower seller handed me my Christmas hat.
"Thank you," I said. "But more for the bucket than the hat."
She eyed the rest of the bystanders with distaste. "Men… can't trust them for anything."
I shook my head. "No you can't. Oh, but we've ruined your flowers. Let me give you money."
"You almost murdered, and now you want to pay me for me flowers? Never mind about that! What the world is coming to, when a woman can't even shop in broad daylight…."
I at last managed to push probably about half of what the destroyed flowers were worth, and by then some of the adrenaline rush I had been on was beginning to wear off. By the time Holmes and I were finished with the police I felt I would be content if I never had to move again.
The next morning I felt better, but Holmes was looking down again. We'd caught our man, and now there was no problem to intrigue his mind. I looked out the window and saw Inspector Lestrade… what could he want, I wondered.
"Lestrade," I told Holmes, who immediately perked up.
"Jacoby's dead," Lestrade announced before he'd even come through the door. "Hanged himself."
"Did he leave behind a confession?" Holmes asked, now sounding only vaguely interested.
Lestrade shook his head then upon realizing that Holmes was not looking at him said aloud, "no."
"Bastard," I said, causing Lestrade to give me a shocked look.
Holmes didn't say another word for hours but that evening, out of the blue, he asked me a question.
"What were you and the flower vendor discussing while you tried to pay her back for the destroyed flowers?"
I grinned and then covered my mouth with my hand, "we were talking about how men are useless and not to be trusted."
He sat up and looked at me as if I had just announced that I intended to start ritually sacrificing dogs to Anubis ever Saturday night. "What?"
"Most of the onlookers were men, and who was it who came to my aid? The woman couldn't have been much over 5'2" and less than sixty."
"Unfortunately that sort of behavior is not uncommon for both genders," Holmes admitted. "But take my fiancée."
I gave him a curious look.
"She was the daughter of my former violin instructor. We were engaged to be married, the invitations were out, I was being fitted for a tailcoat, and then she died of influenza. Typical female unreliability."
Oh, the ultimate crime to die before one's wedding.
"Well," I replied. "I can one up you there, my dear Holmes. You of course know that I was engaged before I came to Great Britain. I never told you much about my fiancé, did I? He was an officer in the navy. My dress was made… white satin with sequins and frills. We had a church picked out, and the jeweler was holding our rings. Then he noticed something funny about the payroll books and realized that his immediate superior was skimming some off the top. He confronted the man about it, and the next morning he woke up kissing the gutter with the back of his head missing."
As blasé as I had sounded recounting the story to Holmes, it was still painful to me, but solving Quint's murder was my first taste of the art of deduction, and ultimately, what had led me to Holmes.
We stared at each other for a minute, trying to get the other person to blink, but at the same instant we both burst out laughing. Staring in the face we couldn't see eye-to-eye, but we were certain enough in our own opinions that we were willing to indulge the other. That was probably the reason why I was still living at 221B Baker Street.
Because Jacoby hadn't had the courtesy to confess before his suicide, Scotland Yard felt that the case had never been fully solved, but having found the guilty party, Holmes and I were satisfied.