Chapter 113: Needle In A Haystack

Soon we were enjoying a most excellent meal.
Sherlock Holmes returned with a flourish, showing a hint of his usual energy. "I have made some arrangements," he said, "and I hope they will meet with your approval."

"What arrangements have you made?" asked Mycroft.

"I've ordered lunch for three," replied Sherlock. "Mrs. Hudson will be arriving shortly with homemade vegetable soup, roast beef sandwiches, and a garden salad."

"Sounds lovely," said Mycroft. "So far, I can hardly complain."

"I have also found you a quiet place to sleep," added his brother.

"How did you do that so quickly?" asked Mycroft.

"I simply asked Mrs. Hudson if she had any rooms available," replied Sherlock. "Fortunately for us, one of her other tenants has recently departed. She had just finished cleaning the flat, but had not begun to advertise it. So I've saved her the trouble of finding another tenant."

Mycroft looked puzzled. "You can stay there for the rest of the week, or a month, or indefinitely," said Sherlock. "Whatever suits you."

"I already have a flat," said Mycroft.

"And you can return to it whenever you're ready," said Sherlock. "But in the meantime, won't you let your brother and his friend look after you, at least until you've recovered from your shock?"

"Shock?" replied Mycroft with a glance in my direction. "Why, I suppose it is the right word. It has been a very difficult week."

"I cannot promise an end to the difficulties," said Sherlock. "Some of what we have to do will be taxing in the extreme. But I am sure that you will manage quite well, once you have recovered your strength."

"What is there for me to do?" asked Mycroft.

"I''ll give you an answer in a couple of days," replied Sherlock. "At present, you only need to eat and sleep."

"Dr. Watson was saying I can expect to have trouble with both," said Mycroft.

"I wouldn't be a bit surprised if you do," said Sherlock, "but only for a short while."

Mrs. Hudson appeared in the doorway with a tray of sandwiches. "I will return with the soup and salad," she said. "And perhaps you would like some more fruit for dessert?"

"Thank you very much, Mrs. Hudson," said Mycroft. "I am very grateful for all three of you," he added, looking around the room.

"It's a pleasure, sir," said the landlady, picking up the half-empty tray of fruit. "I'll return with the rest of your lunch in a few minutes."

Mrs. Hudson was as good as her word, and soon we were enjoying a most excellent meal. Mycroft ventured to ask a few questions, but Sherlock refused to answer any of them.

"Enjoy the food," he said. "We will have plenty of time for serious matters in the days to come."

When we had finished eating, Sherlock passed the humidor around, and we smoked some very fine cigars. Then Sherlock and I carried Mycroft's bags to the flat Sherlock had rented for him.

"Make yourself comfortable," said Sherlock to his brother. "Dr. Watson and I will be in our usual places, so don't hesitate to come to us if you need anything. But do try to sleep as much as you can. It will do you a world of good."

"It will do you some good to forget about the world, too," I added, and Mycroft nodded.

"Thank you, Sherlock," he said. "And thank you, too, Dr. Watson. I appreciate your very kind attention."

"You're most welcome," said Sherlock. "Sleep well."

Mycroft began to unpack a few things. We left him and returned to our flat.

"That was quite a turn of events, no?" said Sherlock with a hint of a smile. "This changes the dynamic considerably. He's not fond of physical exertion, but you won't find a better thinker anywhere.

"Give him a few days to recover, and then we'll find that adding Mycroft to our team has doubled our brain-power."

"Seriously?" I asked. "Do you really think he's as smart as you are?"

"No, Watson," replied Sherlock. "I think he's smarter than the two of us put together!"

"You're being modest, I take it," I said.

"On the contrary," replied the detective. "I do not count modesty as a virtue. It is as likely to warp the truth as conceit. I am telling you this because it's true."

I nodded and Sherlock continued. "How are you doing with your research on the Pat Tillman story?"

"I have made no progress whatsoever," I replied.

"I have made no progress on my current line of inquiry, either," said my friend. "So we're even."

"I was about to resume my work," I said, "unless you would like me to do something else."

"That will be fine," said Sherlock. "When Mycroft joins us, I may need to divert you for a while. But that won't happen until Wednesday at the earliest. In the meantime, I will leave you to it.

"What sort of needle are you looking for?"
"I need to step out for a while," he continued. "I wonder whether you would be good enough to keep an eye on my brother while I am gone?"

"Yes, of course," I said. "May I ask where you're going?"

"You may certainly ask," he replied. "But I can hardly tell you. I'm not quite sure, myself."

The grease-stained mechanic stepped into his bedroom and emerged a few minutes later in a completely different disguise. "You never cease to amaze me, Holmes," I said when I saw him.

"Good!" said he. "Let us see whether I can pull a needle from a haystack, and amaze you a second time."

"What sort of needle are you looking for?" I asked.

"Shh!" he replied, with a finger to his lips. And then he slipped quietly away.