The Memoirs of Irene Adler: The Irene Adler Trilogy

San Cassimally

Green Okapi Press
Edinburgh & Liverpool

Text copyright © 2014 San Cassimally
All rights reserved.

ISBN-10: 1497383404
ISBN-13: 9781497383401
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014905360
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
North Charleston, South Carolina

For
Hakim, Karim and Katrina

My warm thanks to Mary O’Donnell who undertook the monumental task of editing the manuscript, and to (my son) Hakim for helping with the technology. And to Janie Kliever for the cover, which Enrico Harvey modified

— San Cassimally

Absence of Truth

Sherlock vs. Sherlock

Disappearing Daughters of England

The Anatomy of a Bank Robbery

The Assassination of Lloyd-George

My Friend Harriet

Customs of the Sea

am back! The time we spent in Australia was splendid. Algie, having been finally informed of my whereabouts, came to join me after a couple of months. He loved the great outdoors and the serene quietude of the place as much as I did, but he began missing London.

Whilst I was his prisoner, Moriarty promised that if anything happened to him, his ruthless associate Colonel Sebastian Moran, a man who had no fear of death, would come for us all guns blazing. The renegade military hero, he had told me, was completely deranged and would not rest until he and his many accomplices had destroyed us—he had told the professor that the voices in his head could not be denied. When in full possession of our faculties, physical and mental, Holmes and I would have been equal to any challenge, but the events at the Reichenbach Falls had left us much weakened. I therefore thought that we might seek rest and safety in the antipodes. To my surprise, after his convalescence in the Swiss mountains, when I suggested to Holmes that he might enjoy a few months away from the bustle of London, he took less than one minute to signify his enthusiasm for the idea. He had always entertained a wish to walk upside down, he said with barely a smile. We left with great despatch, not even informing Lord Clarihoe to whom I was legally married. Or Dr Watson, to who Holmes was not.

I hope one day to write an account of my time in Australia, but now that I am back in London, my priority is seeking the means of making an honest living.

Outside the fiercely loyal
Club des As
, only Sherlock Holmes knows the real identity of Lady Clarihoe. He tells me that he has not even told Dr Watson and has no plans to do so. Since the Uranian Algernon
Clarihoe with whom I had a
mariage blanc
had hardly any contact with his family, I hardly ever met them. Many of them do not even recognise me if they see me at Ascot or in Drury Lane. In any case, although we see each other often, my nominal husband and I do not live at the same address—which is probably why we are the best of friends. We are only married on paper to placate his father and I will not accept any financial succour from him. However, at his insistence, when we came back, we spent three weeks together in France. When we were down under we had missed the Parisian scene that we previously revelled in, and I certainly came back from across the Channel refreshed.

I sent word to Mr Holmes when we arrived and we met in Victoria Embankment Gardens. I remembered with great fondness the balmy nights in the limpid waters south of the equator off the Zanzibar coast where we spent many a night together on the deck of the
Horatio
as the fragrant Indian Ocean breeze wafted past us. I will treasure the memory of how we looked into each other’s eyes in the moonlight as he told me all about the monograph he meant to write on the correlation between the shapes of the heads of criminals and their specialities. Our ways parted once Algernon arrived. I gathered that he had returned to Baker Street a few months before us, much to the joy of the good doctor who had thought his great friend and mentor had died with Moriarty at the falls. It was cruel of Holmes to let him believe in his demise, but the great man does not feel in the same manner as us ordinary mortals. I have been told that I can act callously too, so who am I to say what is right or wrong?

He greeted me with great warmth although he tried not to show it. His whole face seemed illuminated the moment he caught sight of me and came towards me. He raised both arms, and for a moment I thought he was going to break his rule and actually wrap me in his arms and embrace me fondly, albeit in a brotherly fashion. I saw him change his mind and was grateful that he had at least been contemplating the notion. As a compromise he took both my arms in his. When he stopped a few paces away, he dropped his hands, stood rigidly to attention.‘Miss Adler, I hope I see you well,’ he said laconically. Although my arms were in readiness for a little Holmesian squeeze, I debated with myself for a
whole second about whether
I
should not take the initiative and seize his arms. But we’ve now been in this new century for a few years and nothing much seems to have changed. He raised his right arm and with it encircled my aura, with tactile contact at least one inch away. He guided me towards a bench opposite the pond where we seated ourselves.

‘Miss Adler, I hope I see you well,’ he repeated.

‘As well as can be Mr Holmes, and may I enquire if you share this happy state with me?’ He turned round and twitched his lips for almost twice the duration of his usual wan smile. After the usual exchanges about the doctor, Mycroft, the London crime wave and enquiries into what we had each been doing, he mentioned that with Moriarty dead, Moran was now making a name for himself, with a fresh crop of villains.

‘Whereas Moriarty was ruthless in the pursuit of his dastardly schemes, he had too logical a mind to waste his energies in gratuitous violence. This fellow Moran exults in the practice of terror for its own sake,’ my companion said, shaking his head wistfully. It was the closest he would come to admitting that he was already missing his old enemy.

‘What are your plans?’ he asked. I hesitated, unsure if I should be frank with him, but decided that within limits I would play a straight bat. After all we had saved each other’s lives. I owned to having met my old friends.

‘So you will be up to your old tricks?’

‘Old tricks? I don’t know what you mean, I’m sure, Mr Holmes, but if you are referring to our determination to fight injustice by any means, including unconventional ones, then the answer must be yes.’

‘I must warn you, Miss Adler. You and I have rather different views of the meaning of the word justice. Although I have much respect and...’ I knew the next word on his tongue was affection but he could not make himself say it, ‘eh...respect.’ He repeated this to make sure he repudiated himself for nearly using the dreaded word affection. ‘Should I be called upon to look into one of your misdemeanours, you must be in no doubt where my duty will lie.’

‘We hate the same things,’ I said.

‘You don’t execrate theft,’ he said turning away.

‘Mr Holmes, pray let us not argue. You know very well we never steal but from corrupt bankers and politicians, extortionate businessmen, insurance fraudsters, brokers—’

‘Miss Adler,’ he interrupted me, ‘who are we to say who is corrupt and who deserves our protection? It is my job to catch evildoers. That leaves me no time to ponder the grand philosophical questions.’ After a short pause he added, ‘Not that I pride myself on my inability to do so.’

‘In that case, knowing you are on our trail, we will have to be ever so vigilant,’ I said with a laugh. He turned towards me and gave me a double dose twitch of the lips and a nod.

‘Since you mentioned that new lot of villains operating in London, I daresay you will not see my entering the business of crime-fighting as unfair rivalry?’

‘Hmm, is that your plan?’ I nodded. Then looking at me in the eyes he said, as if to himself. ‘But you are a girl.’ I wondered whether I’d ever feel bold enough to call him “boy”.

‘I was aware of that, Mr Holmes,’ I laughed. ‘My mother reminded me of the fact often enough.’ I paused before asking, ‘Is that an impediment?’

I was surprised at the reasoned exposition of his views. He did not think I was ill-equipped to deal with any eventuality. He thought I had great instincts for deduction, was crafty, even devious, he was pleased to add. As such, I would be almost as good as him. He suggested, however, that people in need of the sort of help that he or I might provide would have as lief seek the help of some of the male charlatans purporting to offer the same services before coming to ‘... a person of the weaker sex.’ He shook his head. ‘No, Miss Adler, you won’t make a living by honest means. Of course it’s unfair, if you will allow me.’

I admitted to not having explored the economic aspect of my intended venture. So, you do not advise it, I asked wearily, but not ready to throw in the towel.

‘Oh no, dear Miss Adler, I didn’t say that.’ I stared at him and it took me ten seconds to guess what he was going to say.

‘You are obviously a mistress of disguise,’ he began, confirming my conjecture. I nodded, saying nothing. He placed his hands around my
face without touching it, twisting them round indicating that he wished me to turn my head and I acquiesced. He peered at it intensely as if I was a prospective exhibit at a cattle sale and nodded.

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