It was early January, and I had been married for two and a half years. Finally being used to running my own household, my wife and I had decided to have children. My first born was six months at this time. I hadn’t visited, or even heard from my friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes since a few weeks after the birth of my boy. I was determined, since I hadn’t any family, and neither did Mary, to make Holmes a sort of uncle to my child, whether he liked it or not. And I had a fear that he would not. He was all right with his seven-to-fourteen year old Baker Street Irregulars, but I wasn’t sure what he would think of my little baby. It was unusually warm for the time of year, and I thought it would be a good time to take my little one to see Holmes. I bundled him up the best I could, took leave of Mary, and got into a cab. The moment I entered the cab, the boy began to weep in the most profuse bitterness, and he kept it up the entire way to Baker Street. I felt very red-faced as I got out of the cab, paid the surprised cabby, and gave a light rap at the door. My arms were full with my bundle, and I hadn’t a hand to open it. I will never forget the glances I got as I stood at the door of 221b, my little child still weeping at the top of his lungs. A moment later Mrs. Hudson was at the door, and ushered me in with the warmest regards and a kiss upon the cheek of myself and my baby. She did her best to quiet the boy, but to no avail, and I marched shamefacedly up the steps to Holmes’ rooms. I needed not to introduce myself, for as I came to the steps, I heard a cried, “Come in, Watson!” I smiled to myself; somehow, he always knew.
“Good morning, Holmes,” said I as I entered the rooms that had once been home to me. “How did you know it was me?”
“Watson, I heard your baby from nearly a mile away. What human would come to me with a baby, if it were not you?”
“I see. Well, yes, this is my boy,” I smiled holding out the bundle of cloth to the sinewy arms and chemical-stained hands of the man who had so long been my closest companion. He hesitated a moment. “Come on, Holmes. It is just a baby; it’s not going to eat you.”
“I pray profusely that his bark is worse than his bite,” he said wryly as he held the wailing child at arm’s length. He turned him about a few times, as if he were studying an inert and lifeless object, still keeping it away from his body, as if it would contaminate him. As he studied my baby I turned about and took off my coat. Just as I turned back, I caught a glimpse of Holmes face, only an inch away from the baby’s, fixed in undeniable pride. Just as he did this, the baby gasped, and stopped crying.
“Why, you’ve done it, Holmes!” I cried.
He laughed nervously. “Yes,” he said as the corners of his thin lips turned inevitably up, “I suppose I have. I’ve never held a baby before. It is quite a new experience.”
“And I hope not a bad one?”
“No, no not at all.” And with that, he placed the baby balanced on one hip, his hand steadying him, and began to introduce the little chap to the entire room, from the jackknife and VR, to the violin and a clay pipe. Suddenly, a thought seemed to hit him. “Watson, what is his name?”
“John Sherlock Watson,” I smiled. “After his father, and the best man his father knows.”
A rosy red mounted the cheekbones and ears of my companion, and he tried dreadfully unsuccessfully to hide the smile that showed his teeth. “May I take him into my room?” he asked.
“If you have the notion,” responded I. He did, apparently, have the notion, and he walked off with my child. As far as I could remember, I had never been in Holmes’ room, and I thought it rather amusing that my child should be the first outsider, perhaps aside from Mrs. Hudson, to enter it. I made myself comfortable on the settee and waited, hearing the high-pitched echo of Holmes’ voice ring through the walls. Some little time later, Holmes reappeared into the room, with my child arrayed in a deerstalker cap, about ten sizes too big for him, and a bear with button eyes clutched in his hands.
“He liked the woman, Watson. He laughed for half a minute when I showed him her photograph on the wall.” I raised my eyebrows in surprise. So that’s where he kept her photo! I had often wondered. Holmes and I talked pleasantries for half an hour, the whole time little John Sherlock on his knee, or napping with his head on Holmes’ chest, under a fold of his dressing gown. At long last I thought it would be time for me to make my adieu; Mary was probably anxious. Holmes’ face fell visibly when I told him I must go.
“You will bring him back to see me, will you not?” he asked as I put on my overcoat.
“I will, very often.” Then I realized that my child still had the bear with button eyes clutched in his hands. “Oh, Holmes, this is not his.” Then a wry smile played its way about my lips. “Is, is it yours?”
He returned the wry smile sarcastically, and blinked twice. “Was, is the word, Watson; now it’s his.” Just before I turned to go, Holmes put his hand on my arm. He bent his face down to my child, and touched his hawkish nose to his. John Sherlock burst into uproarious laughter.
“Why!” said I. “What an extraordinary sight.”
“Only to the simple-minded, Watson. Yes, perhaps, and very pleasant.”