Dr Watson laid aside his diary and read out aloud what he had written to himself to confirm that everything was as he had remembered of the case.
On glancing over my notes of the seventy odd cases in which I have during the last eight years studied the methods of my friend Sherlock Holmes, I find many tragic, some comic, a large number merely strange, but none commonplace; for, working as he did rather for the love of his art than for the acquirement of wealth, he refused to associate himself with any investigation which did not tend towards the unusual, and even the fantastic. Of all these varied cases, however, I cannot recall any which presented more singular features than The Case of the Nun’s Disease.
That my dear Watson is the crux of the matter on which everything hangs. Without that explanation, our efforts will have been in vain. It is obviously the same question that those of your profession will have asked but have failed to find the answer. With that he sat silent for a few minutes with his finger-tips still pressed together, his legs stretched out in front of him, and his gaze directed upward to the ceiling. Then he took down from the mantle piece the old and oily clay pipe, which was to him as a counsellor, and, having lit it once again, he leaned back in his chair, with the thick blue cloud-wreaths spinning up from him, and a look of infinite languor in his face. I imagined the chemicals that were pouring into his lungs, and the damage that it would be doing as he contemplated in silence the matter at hand.
I had had so many reasons to believe in my friend’s subtle powers of reasoning and extraordinary energy in action that I felt that it would only be a matter of time before he would have some solid grounds for the assured and easy demeanour with which he treated the singular mystery which he had been called upon to fathom.
So we sat, in silence, lost in our thoughts. Then all of a sudden he exclaimed, My dear fellow. says he, as we sat on either side of the fire in his lodgings at Baker Street, life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generation, and leading to the most outr results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable. A big smile now crossed his face and he laughed.
Holmes! What is it that you have discovered that sheds light on this most perplexing and singular of mysteries for I am completely at a loss as to find a it’s solution?
Never mind, said Holmes, laughing; it is my business to know such things. Perhaps I have trained myself to see what others overlook. The solution here is so simple that words almost fail me. He looked across to me, his face beaming with delight and mysterious countenance. Tell me Watson, what did nuns do?
Now I was completely lost! Everyone knew what nuns did. I collected together my thoughts and answered, The life in the convent was almost identical those of the male gender who lived and worked in monstestories.
Can you be more explicit my friend, and tell me what occupations the nuns were involved in? .
Well Holmes, I ventured to add. Convents were basically self-sufficient in all they did. Besides spending time in prayer, the nuns worked in their garden growing vegetables, harvested what they grew, baked bread, did all the manual tasks associated in keeping the convent in good order. Much of what they did was very physical, and they all did this in the habit that they wore.
True, Watson, but this was no more that what the peasants did in Medieval times, and they wore long flowing garments much the same as the nun’s habit and correct me if I am wrong but there is little or no evidence that they suffered from the disease. Granted peasants breasts were not bound like those of nuns which may explain why they may have been protected from the disease due to the unrestricted movement of their breasts, and also that they suckled their young, but this explanation is inadequate in determining why nuns were more susceptible to the disease that other women.
They made candles which the sold or bartered, I hastened to add.
Holmes smiled at this and he did not need to say anything, for I knew what he was thinking. Candle making was not confined to nuns but was a common trade, and as far as I knew, women of that trade did not suffer from breast cancer or any other cancer for that matter.
Think Watson, think!
For once I found myself unable to come up with anything more than that I had already said. My dear friend, please put this bumbling fool out of his misery and tell me what it is that I have overlooked. says I. ==============
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