Chapter 25: A Gift Of Logic

Gareth Williams had a gift of logic,
the abstract core of mathematics
Shortly after dinner, Hughes announced the arrival of Geraint Williams, who had taught Gareth mathematics in secondary school at nearby Bodedern.

"It's an honour to meet you, Mr. Holmes -- and you, Dr. Watson," said the teacher. "I'll be happy to help you however I can, although I cannot imagine what I might be able to tell you that would be of any use. It has been many years since I last saw Gareth, and I have no idea who could have killed him."

"But you knew Gareth, yes? You taught him?" Holmes asked. "We're simply interested in what you observed. Anything you tell us now could potentially be very useful later."

"I'm glad to hear that, Mr. Holmes," said Geraint Williams. "I shall certainly tell you whatever I can."

"What were your first impressions of Gareth Williams?" asked the detective.

"We heard about him before we met him, sir," replied the teacher. "He had done his GCSE in mathematics at primary school and got a B at intermediate level. He took the higher level GCSE a couple of months later, and got an A!"

"So he was proficient at secondary school maths before he even left primary school?" asked Holmes.

 "Indeed," said Geraint Williams. "When he came to us -- a year earlier than normal -- he had already completed the curriculum formerly known as O-levels. We got him to follow A-levels, and he finished A-level maths and computer science in the third form, earning As in both. We had nothing left to offer him, sir. So we contacted Bangor University and Gareth started going there, doing university maths at the age of 13!"

"He must have had a very powerful gift," said Holmes.

"He certainly did," said Geraint Williams. "He had the fastest brain I have ever met."

"I am very interested in the nature of his gift," said Holmes. "Was is exclusively or primarily mathematical?"

"No, sir," replied the teacher. "It showed itself very powerfully in maths, but I think it was more a gift of logic. Gareth may not have been the best mathematician I have ever taught, but I've never seen a better logician, Mr. Holmes."

"Logic being the essence of mathematics," said Holmes, "it is no wonder that he excelled in maths."

"Indeed, sir," said Geraint Williams, "just as he excelled in computer science. He was bound to do very well in any subject with a logical base."

"It must have been a joy to teach him," suggested Holmes.

"It was," said the teacher. "He understood everything so quickly. You never had to explain anything twice to Gareth. And he always remembered what he had learned.

"Because he was so advanced, especially for his age," Williams continued, "teaching him was an enormous challenge. But it's always delightful to have a student who can learn as fast as you can teach, sir."

"If I understand you correctly," said Holmes, "in addition to his gift for logic, he must have had an excellent memory."

"Indeed," agreed Mr. Williams. "He also had very good pattern-recognition skills. If I showed him something once, he would immediately grasp the underlying principle and see how it could be applied to similar situations."

"He might have made a fine detective," suggested my friend.

"And perhaps he did, sir" said his former teacher. "We've all read that he was a code-breaker, and I'm not surprised. It didn't surprise me that he became interested in ciphers, and it didn't surprise me that he was recruited by GCHQ. I've read recently that he was a hero in the war against terror, and I wouldn't doubt that, either. He was an exceptionally bright young man."

"What do you remember about his personality?" Sherlock Holmes asked.

"Gareth was a very nice lad," said Geraint Williams, "quiet and unassuming. What a shame!"

"Can you think of any reason why somebody would want to kill him?" asked Holmes.

"Well, sir," said his former teacher, "any war hero is bound to have made enemies."