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Holmes had recently returned from a visit to the Continent, about which he remained close-lipped, which in my experience betokened a commission executed for some powerful patron, when Mrs. Hudson brought up a telegram.

“ It’s reply-paid, sir,” she said to Holmes. “ Will there be an answer ? ” She waited patiently as Holmes ripped open the envelope and perused the contents.

“ There will be an answer, Mrs. Hudson,” he informed her, scribbling a few words on a sheet of notepaper and handing it to her. “ Thank you.”

“ What was that ? ” I asked, as our landlady made her way downstairs. “ Are you at liberty to provide me with details ? ”

“ I suppose that I am free to tell you all I know of the business, which is virtually nothing.” He passed the telegram over to me, and I read the words, “ WISH TO RETAIN YOUR SERVICES ON BIZARRE MATTER. TRAGIC CONSEQUENCES IF MISHANDLED. ALFRED DARLINGTON.”

“ The use of the term ‘bizarre’ within a telegraphic communication is in itself somewhat bizarre, I feel,” I commented. “ What was your answer ? ”

He smiled. “ How could I resist such an appeal ? Naturally, I accepted. The reply was addressed to his club, so I would expect to see him here in person in a very short space of time.”

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