Chapter 49: Another Letter From Anglesey

"Place them here, side-by-side, will you?"
"For the counter top experiment," Sherlock Holmes suggested, "we may as well start with the items one would normally use for cleaning kitchens and bathrooms. We can certainly try the dish and laundry detergents, but it makes sense to work with the cleansers and general-purpose cleaners first, doesn't it?"

I agreed and Holmes began to clear space on his work table. "You've collected some fine samples, Watson," he said. "Place them here, side-by-side, will you? We'll swab them with a sponge, and we can reach them all at once if we arrange them properly."

"Do you think we should protect the table top somehow?" I asked. "Surely some cleaning products will seep through the gaps. We have a sheet of heavy plastic somewhere. Shall I go look for it?"

"I wouldn't bother," replied the detective. "After the spills this table has suffered -- various acids, blood, all manner of solvents and the occasional poison -- a drip of cleanser may come as a pleasant surprise.

"The most likely candidate for leaving a powdery residue," Holmes continued, "would be a powdered cleanser, such as -- What did you buy? Comet?"

"What did you buy? Comet?"
I handed him the tin I had bought and he continued, "I've borrowed a bucket and a sponge from Mrs. Hudson. She probably thinks we're crazy, but --"

I could barely suppress a chuckle. "She probably thinks you're crazy," I thought, but I said nothing. Instead I took the bucket to the sink and filled it with warm water.

No sooner had I brought it back to Holmes' table than Mrs. Hudson appeared. "Good heavens, Mr. Holmes!" she exclaimed when she saw the samples, "You're not thinking of redecorating the flat, are you, sir?"

"Don't worry," Holmes replied. "We're just conducting a small experiment in support of an investigation."

"I'm glad to hear it, sir," said our landlady. "I've come to ask whether you will both be here for dinner this evening."

"Indeed we will, thank you," replied Holmes.

"One more thing, sir," Mrs. Hudson continued. "This letter just arrived. It's for you. It appears to be from Wales, sir."

"Thank you, Mrs. Hudson," said my friend and our landlady withdrew quietly.

Holmes cut open the envelope and removed a single sheet of paper.

William Hughes
"It's from William Hughes," he said, "and it's addressed to both of us. Will you be so kind as to read it aloud?"

He handed me the letter and I read:
Trefor near Bodedern
Anglesey, Wales
Tuesday, 28 September

Dear Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson,

Thank you once again for your interest in our Gareth, and for your presence here these last few days. You have lifted many spirits, not least those of Ellen and Ian, and I am most grateful for that and for your many expressions of support for our family.

After some confusion, I have finally made contact with Dr. Terry Hewitt, Gareth's former advisor at Manchester University. I had been led to believe that he had moved to Bangor and I was looking for him there; in fact he is teaching at Bangor now but still living near Manchester.

In any case, I finally reached Dr. Hewitt and he told me he would be happy to speak with you regarding Gareth. Unfortunately he is extremely busy and it is almost always difficult to arrange meetings with him.

However, he will be in London this Friday and will visit you at four o'clock in the afternoon if you will be available then. You can contact him yourselves to make arrangements; I will include the necessary information below.

Thank you both once again on behalf of myself and the entire family. You have already done us more good than you can imagine, and we're hoping and praying that you'll be able to solve the case as well.

Please let me know if I can be of any assistance. I would be happy to help you in any way possible.

Yours sincerely,
William Hughes
"This is excellent!" I exclaimed when I had finished reading the letter.

"Indeed," replied Holmes. "The chips seem to be falling in our direction at the moment. We can never know how long such a run of luck will last, but we're fools if we don't take as much advantage of it as we can.

"You have the bucket, no? Here's the sponge. If you'll wipe down the counter tops with some Comet, I will confirm our appointment with Dr. Hewitt immediately."