21st August. I return the ink of my pen to this journal more than three years after my last entry and our encounter with Dracula at Tower Bridge. In the interim, we have enjoyed a few interesting cases, all of which I will report upon at a different opportunity. Regarding this account, Quincey remains within the good care of 221B Baker Street. He is staying with us until we secure a place with a suitable family. However, I suspect the boy would want to remain with us indefinitely if he could.

The personal affairs of Jonathan and Mina have yet to be settled. From them, I hope it will deposit a good amount of funds in a trust for Quincey’s education and upkeep. In the meantime, we have mothballed the family property in Whitby until it can be disposed of.

Mrs. Hudson pampers the boy and his dog day and night. She cooks fresh breakfast each morning and keeps the fire at its best in the hearth, even though we are now in summer. The question is whether the coals are for anyone’s benefit other than the dog, as it is notable that Prince continues to curl into his usual place on the rug to receive the warmth.

 Although Quincey is safe and well cared for, it does not prevent him from waking most nights with the same vision washing through his mind. The replay of the action at the moment the tip of Quincey’s kukri dispatches Dracula as it pierces the vampire’s heart. On one particular night some days before and after hearing the most dreadful scream, I attended his room to find him upright in his bed and in a tepid sweat. Prince was standing at his side.

“My dear boy, what on earth causes such a nightmare?” I said as if I did not know what the reply would be.

“It is the same dream, Dr. Watson, but now the visions are caught as if part of one of those newfangled film projections. You know, the ones which are now touring London cinema theatres. The scenes flicker between light and dark like moths burning against a candle.” He said, sobbing for the first time since the incident that took them.

I could imagine the frames holding the essence of absolute evil as they passed through the boy’s mind. Deep recesses echoed the screams of the tormented, the images of his parents.

“Their faces drip into waxen disfigurement before they morph into an image of Dracula, then explode like spores disbursing into dust. I woke up with the sound of a scream in my throat. Tonight, I did not issue the call through fear but with a realization of joy. The happiness I enjoy from the fact that I removed the Count from this earth.”

The following nights were all broken by the same disturbance until tonight. All of 221B was quiet; we were all, for as much as I knew, sound asleep. For myself, I was dreaming of the sultry days that I spent in Afghanistan. Then, a sudden shock awakened me. The force of a bullet struck my shoulder.

My eyes opened to find a forceful tugging at my nightshirt, pulling me out of my slumber. It was Sherlock, his hand still shaking me as hard as he could. His bony thumb buried deep in the depressed scar of my now healed wound. A painful jab nonetheless. A candle in his other hand shone upon his tired, unshaven face and told me at a glance that something was amiss.

“I say old…” I attempted to speak, but the sentence held its completion as Holmes moved his hand to cover my mouth.

“Wake Quincy. Do it without delay and not a word!”

I dressed and made my way to the attic room where Quincey slept. Curled in his customary position at the foot of the bed, Prince jumped to his feet as I opened the door. First, patting the dog on his head, I gently woke the boy, but he did not murmur.

Seeing my attempt, Prince leaped onto the bed to assist and landed with all his weight on Quincey’s belly. The boy’s eyes flashed, and he shot upright with a gasp. The dog’s tongue issued a firm nose lick as he handed the pup off, and then, without conscious thought, Quincey rolled onto his shoulder and returned to sleep. Before the boy could drift off, I placed one hand on his shoulder and gave him a sharp shake; his eyes flickered open.

“Come, Quincey, come!” I cried. “Sherlock is in motion. He says that the game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!” Quincey stirred, now awake, and Prince leaped off the bed and onto the floor, issuing a brief gruff as he did so. Then, finally, they were both ready for action.

The night still had a good grip on the day. The dawn had yet to push aside the darkness, which would draw back later to reveal a clear sky. Ten minutes later, we were all seated in a hansom cab as it rumbled through the otherwise silent streets and on our way to Charing Cross Station.

As the first faint winter’s dawn washed against the slate rooftops, we could see the occasional scurrying figure of an early workman as we passed; silhouettes blurred and became indistinct from the swirling grey hue of the city streets. I nestled in silence, wrapped in the comfort of my heavy coat. Holmes and Quincy were glad of the same, for the air was bitter, and none of us had had breakfast, including Prince. I was sure Mrs. Hudson would make us regret that upon our return.

“What on earth is that on your head?” I asked Quincey. The boy raised a hand and tugged at the small peak of a scruffy dark gray cap.

“It’s only a woolen hat, Sir. Wiggins gave it to me.”

“It needs a good wash by the look of it; such a tatty thing to be going about in.”

“I wear it for good luck. It was on my head when I first claimed Prince.”

At that, Quincey placed a firm hand on the dog’s head, and the two exchanged a deep look of understanding. Then, a whirring and buzzing hit my senses as a yellow, horseless passenger cab sped by. Its interior illuminated two well-dressed passengers for all to see. Prince became agitated momentarily, then calmed the instant Quincey’s hand patted the rear of the dog’s head again. The foreign, high-pitched sound of the vehicle ebbed into the distance.

“One of those new-fangled ‘Hummingbird’ electric cabs, transporting the toffs after an evening of entertainment,” I said.

We arrived at Charing Cross station without further incident or conversation and headed for the main office. Sherlock bought tickets for the next available train to Chislehurst and Bickley Park. He led us to the empty, white-tiled waiting room that felt like a hospital clinic. Its walls echoed our footsteps as we paced back and forth to pass the few minutes before the train arrived. Holmes stopped and studied the train timetables in a glass-fronted cabinet on the waiting room wall.

In the meantime, I ventured out onto the platform, where I purchased a hot pie each for us all. The vendor welcomed my order, as he was the only one doing business at such an early hour. I returned to the waiting room and handed the pies to eager hands. Prince looked on, ready to assist with any crumb that may come his way.

Quincey took a part of the crust and passed it to the dog in the palm of his hand. The pup took it without hesitation and with the gentlest of motions. Sherlock turned from his contemplation and took a large bite of his pie. He then raised two fingers of his left hand to his cheek, pressing them into his jaw with a firm, circular motion. Holmes gave the room a once over and then turned to me.

“Do you remember the events that occurred at this location, Watson?”

“Can’t say that I do, Sherlock, should I?

“Yes, you should. The incident with Mathews, whom you may recall, knocked out my left canine in this very place.”

“Now you mention it, perhaps I do, but is it relevant to our journey and the case in hand, Sherlock?”

“Only to the toughness of this pie, it seems. Its crust may complete the job on my remaining teeth, which the knuckle failed to accomplish, my dear friends.” He said. And then followed the remark with a mischievous laugh. We all shared the action, and it was appropriate that we did. For it would prove to be the last moment of good humor that we would enjoy for the next few days.

We each threw the crumbled, but still robust pie crusts toward the pup, who gathered, crunched, and digested them with little effort. It was not until we consumed some pallid but at least hot tea and took our places on the train that we thawed and got ready for our adventure.

Sherlock motioned for us to concentrate our attention on him. We listened in anticipation as the comforting rhythm of the train rattled upon its tracks, providing a soft orchestral backing and rocking us all back and forth. Holmes drew a paper from his inside pocket, unfolded the scrap, and spoke aloud:

“This very morning, I received a communication from a recognized source, it says. Camden Place, Chislehurst. 5:15 a.m. Immediate help is required. Remarkable case. Remains undisturbed. Very Urgent. Rooms at Imperial Inn. Meet at 8 a.m. Inspector Hopkins.”

“A brief message, don’t you think? For a matter that you perceive to be most important?” I said.

“As you should recall, Watson, Stanley Hopkins has had cause to telegram me several times in the past, and on each occasion, his summons has been justified,” said Holmes.

“I fancy that every one of his cases has found its way into your collection, Watson. Their presence wouldn’t be worthwhile unless they passed through your power of selection. Notwithstanding your habit of narrating everything as a story, replacing any consideration of the evidence-based approach, which for detectives around England, and no doubt throughout the world, would be better compiled into a classic series of investigative demonstrations instead of a wad of fanciful pulp. Your concentration on the most sensational details cannot instruct the reader.”

“Pulp indeed! I’ll have you know, my good friend, that readers find my reporting most enlightening. Anyway, if the prose is of such distaste to your palette, then why don’t you write it yourself?” I said in a most disgruntled manner.

“I will, my dear Watson, as I have said frequently. Although I am currently engaged in live research into what appears to be a case of murder.”

“Homes, how on earth can you deduce such events from a simple telegram?”

“Except for the name of the victim.” Said Quincey.

“Most impressive, Quincey. You learn as fast as your pup. That and we are meeting away from the scene of the incident, and that the scene is still undisturbed. Using the word ‘remains’ in this case has a dual purpose. And, perhaps, of more importance, why otherwise would the message be delivered so early in the day?”

“Now you mention it, Holmes,” I said.

“So yes, I gather there was violence, and they left the remains for our inspection. A suicide alone would not have caused the inspector to send for me. I think that friend Hopkins will live up to his reputation, and we shall have an interesting morning. Someone committed the crime just after midnight last night.”

“How can you tell?”

“Elementary Watson. An inspection of the timetable of the trains, and by reckoning the schedule of events. On being called to the scene, the local police had first to establish the crime and secure the scene. They then had to communicate with Scotland Yard. Finally, Hopkins had to go out and send for me. All that makes a fair night’s work don’t you think?”

“The note says Camden Place, Holmes. You know of this place?”

“Only from a cursory knowledge of the most important buildings in London. I understand the house is an elegant piece of architecture.”

Sherlock glanced out the carriage window, noted the landmarks, and calculated the distance to our destination.

“Quincey, hold your dog should the sudden darkness and sounds disturb him as we approach the tunnel, which marks the entrance to Chislehurst village. Prepare yourselves. We shall soon rest from any doubt.”

We passed through the smoke-filled tunnel with the chug, chug of the steam engine bellowing throughout the carriage. Prince remained calm without intervention from Quincey. The train jerked to a halt. Finally, arriving after only a half-hour journey, we disembarked into the still dawning morning. A single cab stood alone outside the station, and we hailed it as soon as the driver paid us any regard. After securing our accommodation at the Imperial Arms and meeting with the inspector within the next two hours, we would visit Camden Place later that morning.