Authors: Kara L. Barney
“I had to prove my theory,” Mr. Holmes replied with a grin.
I sighed, tears nearly coming to my eyes. I took the necklace from my neck and placed it in my master’s hands. “But I have…had a fiancé. I remain true to him; if he had not lied, this would not have happened. If you will excuse me, I would like to rest before I resume my duties for the evening.”
When silence met my request, I curtsied and went out. Once in my room, I let my tears flow freely until I had only enough energy to finish my evening duties and come back again to my quarters. I remember that night as one of the longest and loneliest nights of my life.
The next day, as I was preparing the morning meal, Mr. Holmes came into the kitchen and without further ceremony handed me a small wooden box. When I opened it, I could feel my eyes widen in surprise.
“Where did you find it?” I asked.
“The woman you glimpsed yesterday is the one who is to blame.”
“Thank you,” I said, but with little conviction; I set it on the table, for I could not bear to put it on.
Mr. Holmes looked at me steadily. “There are worse things than rings to be upset about.”
“Oh Mr. Holmes,” I cried, my eyes brimming with tears. “But what is love without trust? Surely you must agree with me on that account.”
“I will grant his deception was unwise,” he said resolutely. “But if I can prove he still loves you, and loves you deeply, will you receive him and be reconciled?”
I nodded and he left. Shortly thereafter, I heard footsteps walking up to the porch, and Rupert stood in the doorway.
It was some moments before either of us moved. Then, all at once, we were embracing and he kissed me. “These days and nights without you have been the loneliest of my life,” he told me. “Can you ever forgive me?”
Unable to speak, I merely nodded, and after he had brushed my cheek affectionately, he took up the ring box and knelt again.
“Will you, Martha Beauregard, be my wife?”
“No deceptions?” I asked, fighting to look stern.
“Never again,” he promised, and I knew it was true.
“Then yes, I will!” I laughed and we kissed until I sensed we were being watched.
I turned to see Mr. Holmes leaning on the doorpost smiling to himself.
“Mr. Holmes,” I asked, hoping to encourage his moment of triumph, “would you care to tell us who caused this rift between us?”
He was happy to oblige. “The chief cause of all this trouble is Irene Adler, a woman of infinite mystery and an impeccable jewel thief when the need to bargain arises. She often works under the guise of others, but in this case she worked alone. I suspect she must have been watching the shop your Mr. Hudson walked into, and when he bought a ring of such worth she followed him, believing him to be a wealthy man. You, once he placed it on your finger, were the target. Her one mistake, however, was committing her crime in the dark. Not knowing who you or Watson were, when I made up the same scheme against her, she only realized her folly after she was caught in the trap. ”
“Do you know much about her?” I asked.
When he fell silent and grew pale, I decided not to press him. Since that time, when I have asked after Miss Adler in other cases, he still would not divulge much about her. To this day I fear that he might have had affections for her, but alas, I can do nothing more than conjecture on this matter. And so I must cease my speculation and, at least in the case of Miss Irene Adler, let Mr. Holmes alone.
Wedding Bells and Warnings
In the summer months that followed the diamond investigation, my wedding plans came to the forefront, and although Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson later admitted that all went well during those months, they were largely left to themselves, for which I later felt the pangs of friendly penitence. During that time, I was constantly moving back and forth between Baker Street and Charing Cross, gathering material for my wedding dress—which was sewn late at night by the fire at Baker Street. I have never since heard Mr. Holmes utter more words in one sitting than on those nights—forming guest lists, and the overall preparations for my upcoming nuptials. My relief, in a large part, also came from Rupert’s mother, my soon to be mother-in-law, who not only helped in my preparations, but also treated me as one of her own children in times of particular strain. Thus, though my own parents had passed away, I had others to take part in the great event.
At last the wedding day arrived, and I arose wishing to remain calm, though it was nearly impossible. I began to prepare a meal, as I always had done at Baker Street. A few minutes later, Mr. Holmes came into the kitchen; when he saw me his expression clouded.
“What are you doing here?” he said roughly.
Somewhat astonished by his treatment of me, I said carefully, “Preparing a meal, sir.”
“You have a wedding to prepare for,” he answered. “You should be in Charing Cross this very moment.”
“I have neglected you long enough,” I said, fighting to keep my voice even.
“Of all the days…” Mr. Holmes mumbled to himself, then said aloud to me, “one more day of neglect will kill no one.”
“Can I do this, Mr. Holmes?” The truth was out; I wrung my hands and could not focus properly on any one object in the room.
Mr. Holmes met my eyes and took me squarely by the shoulders. “You do love him, don’t you?”
“More than anything in the world.”
“Then it is time to show the world who you love the most. Now go, before the entire town decides to hunt me down.”
I breathed deeply, relieved by this encouragement. As I opened the door to depart, Mr. Holmes called after me. “Watson will bring your dress in a couple hours’ time.”
I ran down the porch steps, but just before the cab arrived, I did the unthinkable—I ran back into the house, embraced Mr. Holmes where he stood, whispered a quick “thank you” and rushed out again. I believe I heard something like “silly girl” muttered in my wake.
The next few hours were spent in the hands of my mother’s friends, who insisted that my face and hair be primped and polished until I could bear it no longer. My fingers suffered the same fate. The ladies positively howled when Dr. Watson arrived with my dress, appalled that a man should be carrying a woman’s apparel, especially on her wedding day.
“May I speak with the bride for a minute or two?” asked Dr. Watson cordially.
I left the ladies to surmise and gossip as they pleased, and stepped into the hallway.
“What is it, sir?” I asked with some concern.
“If you ask me, I’d say you needed a breather.” He smiled slightly, and I could not suppress a laugh.
“But I also… Ah…” He fidgeted and quickly handed me a small blue handkerchief. “There,” Dr. Watson said hurriedly. “I hope I got it right. Something about having blue on your wedding day.” He shrugged, interlocking his fingers nervously.
I smiled, and could not resist embracing him also. “It’s perfect.”
“Baker Street will not be the same without you, Miss Beauregard… But I should call you Mrs. Hudson now,” he admitted shyly.
“To you I shall always be Martha,” I said before the door opened and I was drawn in by insistent, busy hands.
Eventually, when all was ready concerning my person, I was left alone. I could not be still, and so I wandered the halls of the church for a time, pondering on the many events that had led me to the present moment. In my wanderings I found myself in front of the chapel doors, and after a moment’s pause, slowly opened them.
As I entered, the sun streamed beautifully through the stained-glass windows, filling the room with beams of color. To my surprise, I discovered someone sitting alone in the pews near the center. As I rustled lightly down the aisle, he turned, and I smiled.
“You’re early,” I said, sitting down next to him.
“I wouldn’t miss an occasion like this for all the world.” said Mr. Holmes tentatively. Knowing that it was difficult for him to enjoy such social gatherings, that was a very high compliment indeed.
“Surely sir, an extra half-hour, rather than a whole one, would have been sufficient.”
He chuckled and tapped his fingers together, pondering.
“Are you well, Mr. Holmes?” I asked.
“Yes. I only wish that I had been more prepared for a day such as this one…a day I knew would come too quickly for me.”
It was my turn to laugh now. “Worry not, you shall never lose me as a friend.”
“You, and Rupert as well, are always welcome at Baker Street,” said Mr. Holmes, smiling slightly. “I am sure Watson will be glad for the merrier company, for I am not always the best of companions.”
I giggled, and for a while we sat in peaceful silence. Realizing the time for the ceremony was at hand, I rose, saying, “I had better see that all is in order before the wedding begins,” and I turned away.
“Martha,” Mr. Holmes called, and I turned back. He took me by the shoulders, smiled once more and sighed. “You look beautiful,” he said—then he kissed me lightly on the cheek.
Taken aback by this show of affection, I paused before leaving the chapel, watching my former employer sitting alone, and hoping in my heart that he could find such happiness as I had found in Rupert.
The ceremony went perfectly—Dr. Watson did quite well in giving me away, though he might say otherwise—the day was fine and joy abounded.
A few times I caught Mr. Holmes looking about suspiciously, as was his way, for few were trustworthy, and all were thrust beneath his interrogative stare. As is generally expected, however, I was distracted by the music, dancing, and the many well-wishers who congratulated us as we passed them. William Hughes, Mary Moore and Thomas Gray, along with many of our friends from childhood, came to wish us well, and I could not have been happier.
As the sun was slowly sinking over the park, Rupert and I were bidding farewell to many of the guests as Mr. Holmes approached stealthily. He smiled and went to embrace me, but as he did so he whispered in my ear, “Beware, you are being watched.” He squeezed me tightly, and gave me such an earnest look that I dared not question it.
“Mr. Holmes…” I started to say, but he shook hands with Rupert, turned away and was gone.
I turned about nervously and saw a pair of eyes I knew well, surrounded by dank, dark hair. The shadow moved off slowly, then disappeared from sight.
At last, when all the guests had departed and we retired to our rooms, Rupert sighed in relief. “At last we can be alone together.” He came up behind me, and I stared at our reflection in the full-length mirror. Mr. Holmes’s warning came quickly to my mind. I turned to Rupert, worried.
“Mr. Holmes told me that we were being watched this evening,” I said nervously.
Rupert then did something unexpected; he laughed aloud. Seeing my look of consternation, he said, “Come now, Martha. You know how suspicious he becomes at social functions. Besides,
,” he smiled slyly, “we were being watched by everyone.”
Sensing my lingering fear, Rupert kissed me reassuringly and whispered, “Worry not, my dearest Martha; I shall protect you now and for ever after.”
I smiled and soon felt at peace again, falling asleep in Rupert’s arms. But oh, how I wish now that I had heeded that warning given so long ago!
Two Fatal Wounds
In a few short months upon my marriage to Rupert, and ending my employment with Mr. Holmes, we were settled in a comfortable, modest home. This particular evening, Rupert had not yet returned home from his work, and I was making supper. The rain poured heavily, and as the afternoon waned into twilight, Rupert opened the door.
“Rupert, my love,” said I, “I feared that you might have been swept away by some creature of the night.”
“No, my dear,” he answered as he took me up in his arms. “I shall always find my way back to you.” We began to dance, and as we laughed and twirled again and again, I suddenly remembered supper.
“Oh, the supper is burning!” I cried, and ran to fetch it.
Rupert took my hand and said, smiling, “Then we shall fast, for love is all the food we shall need tonight. Dance with me still, my darling!” We continued to do so, all else forgotten, until suddenly there was the sound of breaking glass and Rupert halted. “Martha,” he said as if strained; then a second shot rang out.
“Rupert?” I asked. Struck by this sudden change, I touched his back and realized he was bleeding. “Rupert? No!” He fell into my arms, and as I lowered him to the floor, he whispered “Martha,” once more and was gone. I sobbed over his lifeless form for what seemed like an age, unable to move or think. At last I collected myself enough to get to Baker Street.
Upon my arrival, Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson greeted me warmly, Mr. Holmes saying, “My dear Mrs. Hudson, how very good of you to call upon us this evening. What brings you here this hour?”
I cannot recollect how long I stood there in silence, but at last I said, “Rupert is… Rupert is…” and was in the next moment awakened by the pungent smell of salts.
“What has befallen your husband?” asked Mr. Holmes. “Is he ill?” His brow creased in worry.
“He is dead, Mr. Holmes—dead!” I wept continually for the next hour, while Mr. Holmes called on Inspector Lestrade from Scotland Yard and begged me to explain.
“We were dancing in the kitchen—I had let the supper burn—and then through the window two shots were fired… We have no enemies that I know of. Who would do this, Mr. Holmes?”
He shook his head, confused and disgusted, and began pacing the room. “The two shots hit Rupert in the back, I presume?”
I nodded, feeling the room spin around me. Dr. Watson held tight to my arm and I was glad he did so. Mr. Holmes continued, “Did he say anything to you before he…died?”
I sobbed anew at this, for hearing the news from someone else’s lips felt to me as though I had never heard it until that moment. A heavy silence pervaded the room and, except for my weeping, there was no other noise for a time. Mr. Holmes asked again, more gently, “Martha, did he say anything?”
“My name,” I attempted to breathe steadily, “twice. And then he was gone. Ah, my dearest Rupert is gone!” I cried out in agony. I still had not the faintest idea who would wish to murder my husband. Just then the inspector knocked at the door. He gave Mr. Holmes something, told him some particulars and said that he believed Mr. Holmes should inspect the area himself to see if he could discover anything. He nodded, closed the door and asked Dr. Watson for a private conference. After a few minutes Mr. Holmes returned, saying, “I shall be back shortly. Dr. Watson will take care of you until my return.” He must have seen my face, for he then said, “We will find him Martha, I promise.”