When Sherlock Holmes informed me, toward the end of his long and brilliant career as a consulting detective in London and its environs, of his intention to remove himself to the countryside and devote his declining years to the study of bees and to the compilation of a casebook which would at once illustrate and expound his justly famous methods of criminal detection, I in my turn informed him of my desire to spend the rest of my life in the city.

“Country air and country food are certainly better for one’s constitution, Holmes. I’ll grant you that. But old age is dull enough without adding the enforced dullness of the countryside. No, I think I shall prefer the bustle of London to the end.”

He shook his head and sighed. “Well, old friend, there may be more than ordinary health involved. But we shall see what we shall see.”

This conversation took place shortly before Holmes removed himself permanently from the city. In the years that followed, our contacts were perforce limited. The necessity of obtaining supplies having to do with the study of bees—supplies not available in rural areas, due to the abstruse nature of his scientific studies—occasionally brought Sherlock Holmes back to town, despite his recently acquired and frequently expressed aversion for London. Then, too, his work on a book about crime detection, a book which depended heavily upon his own past cases for the elucidation of various points, required that he consult my notebooks, which provide, if anything, an even more complete record of Sherlock Holmes’ career than do the notebooks of Mr. Sherlock Holmes himself.

The years passed, and on each of his trips to London, I observed how relentlessly and unceasingly Nature worked to destroy even so vigorous and active a man as Sherlock Holmes. On every visit, my old friend was thinner, more wrinkled, and his hair, if anything, even whiter than on the previous visit. That parallel changes were taking place in myself, I was well aware; but since I saw myself every morning in the shaving mirror, the steady, gradual effects of age were not so striking in my own case.

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