Monday, March 15, 2010

Correcting Afghanistan

I used to have so much trust in Watson that I accepted anything he said as true, until it became clear that his incoherent muddle of dates meant that he must be lying. I should have thought to question his geography, though. In STUD, Holmes deduces that Watson was in Afghanistan, and he claims that it's in the tropics. Watson doesn't correct him, and so I never doubted him. But when you look at the map, both the modern one and the historical one, Afghanistan is not in the tropics at all.

So here I have written a new scene in which Watson does correct Holmes's blunder, while also angsting a bit about his war wound. I've also decided to arbitrarily correct STUD's chronology problem by saying that Holmes and Watson had the "Book of Life" conversation on Friday, March 4, 1881, but did not start the Brixton Mystery (Jefferson Hope case) until Monday the 7th. I mean, after all, it's a little convenient for a case to drop into Holmes's lap right after he told Watson about his profession, isn't it?

Remember that in my novel Watson has a dog, and his name is Murray, (unlike the adorable Gladstone in the movie).

Fandom: Sherlock Holmes
Story: partial Chapter 4 of DIM
Pairing: Holmes/Watson
Warnings: pre-slash, G

"...I knew you came from Afghanistan through a simple train of thought. From long habit the train of thoughts ran so swiftly through my mind that I arrived at the conclusion without being conscious of intermediate steps. There were such steps, however. The train of reasoning ran, 'Here is a gentleman of the medical type, but with the air of a military man. Clearly an army doctor, then. He has just come from the tropics, for his face is dark, and that is not the natural tint of his skin, for his wrists are fair. He has undergone hardship and sickness, as his haggard face says clearly. His left arm has been injured. He holds it in a stiff and unnatural manner. Where in the tropics could an English army doctor have seen much hardship and got his arm wounded? Clearly in Afghanistan.' The whole train of thought did not occupy a second. I then remarked that you came from Afghanistan, and you were astonished."

"I see." Watson felt uncomfortable to hear his wound described in such an offhand way. He had not thought that his injury was quite so noticeable before, especially since Stamford had principally remarked on Watson's thinness and brownness. To cover up his embarrassment, Watson cleared his throat and decided to try unnerving Holmes in return. "My shoulder," Watson corrected him. "My wound is in my shoulder."

"Ah, yes of course, Doctor. I apologise, but I was unable to be fully accurate when I first met you."

Watson shrugged carelessly. "One further point--Afghanistan is not in the tropics."

"What?" Holmes blinked and raised an eyebrow.

"Afghanistan lies north of the Tropic of Cancer, and thus is not in the tropics. I well knew it, for it was too dry there, and the winters could be quite cold. Perhaps you are thinking of India instead, parts of which lie in the tropics."

Holmes didn't look quite so smug now, but he soon pointed out with a smile, "It must be one of those facts which I have excluded from my brain attic."

Watson added, "I did travel through India as well, but after landing in Bombay, I remained mostly north of that city, and so again, not in the tropics."

"I see. I suppose all those eastern colonies tend to blend together to me. I had a friend once who went to Terai."

"Terai is in Nepal, I believe."

"Yes," Holmes agreed, trying to show some confidence. "You are a veritable gazetteer, doctor."

"I would have to be, after all the travelling I have done."

"Indeed." For a moment he regarded Watson and wondered if he had travelled to other places besides India and Afghanistan. Could he read any clues on him at all?

Watson ventured, "I should recommend that you do study geography, Holmes. Unlike astronomy, I do think world geography may be of some use to you in your detective work, since you shall meet other travellers in the future, and should not want to embarrass yourself with a wrong deduction."

That remark certainly cut Holmes, who bit his lip, then mumbled, "Hmm, well, I suppose..." He glanced away and squirmed slightly, as if resistant to the idea. He already had committed such a detailed geography of London in his head! How could he fit more? Finally, Holmes decided, "Blast it! I shall have to supplement my brain attic with some encyclopedia, to keep such information handy."

"Oh certainly! That is an excellent idea. There is a bookshop not far from here, and you could purchase a second-hand set."

Holmes nodded. "I know where it is." With a sigh, he rose and went to get his hat and coat.

"Shall I go with you to help you carry it?" Watson offered.

Holmes grunted in assent, then put on his coat. As he waited for Watson to do the same, he added quietly, "Perhaps we should take your dog for a walk as well?"

Watson blinked and considered it. "Oh, perhaps we should." He called to his puppy, "Murray! Murray, boy! Come here."

Holmes handed to Watson a leash, and soon the three of them walked out of the flat together.

Perhaps Holmes spends all weekend reading up things, and perhaps purchases a globe as well. Watson shows him the equator as well as the Tropic of Cancer. Looking up that line of latitude in the encyclopedia, Holmes's curiosity is awakened about astronomy.

No comments: