"I should do so," Sherlock Holmes remarked impatiently.
I believe that I am one of the most long-suffering of mortals; but I'll
admit that I was annoyed at the sardonic interruption. "Really, Holmes,"
said I severely, "you are a little trying at times."
He was too much absorbed with his own thoughts to give any immediate
answer to my remonstrance. He leaned upon his hand, with his untasted
breakfast before him, and he stared at the slip of paper which he had
just drawn from its envelope. Then he took the envelope itself, held it
up to the light, and very carefully studied both the exterior and the
"It is Porlock's writing," said he thoughtfully. "I can hardly doubt
that it is Porlock's writing, though I have seen it only twice before.
The Greek e with the peculiar top flourish is distinctive. But if it is
Porlock, then it must be something of the very first importance."
He was speaking to himself rather than to me; but my vexation
disappeared in the interest which the words awakened.
"Who then is Porlock?" I asked.
"Porlock, Watson, is a nom-de-plume, a mere identification mark; but
behind it lies a shifty and evasive personality. In a former letter he
frankly informed me that the name was not his own, and defied me ever
to trace him among the teeming millions of this great city. Porlock is
important, not for himself, but for the great man with whom he is in
touch. Picture to yourself the pilot fish with the shark, the jackal
with the lion--anything that is insignificant in companionship with what
is formidable: not only formidable, Watson, but sinister--in the highest
degree sinister. That is where he comes within my purview. You have
heard me speak of Professor Moriarty?"