lets talk about the adventure of the blanched soldier aka the queer love story holmes held onto. first off he wrote and published it himself though he made sure his readers knew he would've much rather have had watson, even with his flowery embellishment heavy style, write it but watson had selfishly left him years prior (but he does visit on weekends, per other case book stories).
this holmes is a lonely retired man aching for his companion, a man who carefully searched his vast collection of cases until he found one he could give a heart to as he could relate, who couldn't focus on the case enough to not think about or mention watson and how much he misses him, someone who is still hurt over being replaced 23 years ago).
there are many parallels between his client's relationship and his/watsons.
theme: love story + missing person
took place after watson's marriage (an event holmes sees as abandonment)
was never written or made public by watson (who, holmes seems to have forgotten, wasn't even present for this case)
is about losing someone you love unexpectedly and being unable to accept it
subtle familial homophobia and past bullying
loud subtext about seeing lgbt+ as a medical condition or crime towards the end
straight presenting soldiers in a relationship (victorian society saw lgbt+ men as effeminate and men with beards etc as straight)
multiple uses of the client using his other half's christian name
the clients partner suffers a shoulder wound
the missing partner leaving by choice
emphasis on the fact that the couple have saved one anothers lives many times and share a very deep bond because of it
holmes admitting it's not an exciting case by his standards but it is strange (it's the points of interest, holmes, the parallels that bring watson to mind mid writing)
leaving your partner because you aren't who you used to be and think it's best that he doesn't know; surely he wouldn't accept you and besides it's for his own good
a happy ending
Holmes writing: The ideas of my friend Watson, though limited, are exceedingly pertinacious.
Colonel Emsworth, the missing Godfrey's father, to his son's partner: —your infernal pertinacity
For a long time (Watson) has worried me to write an experience of my own. Perhaps I have rather invited this persecution, since I have often had occasion to point out to him how superficial are his own accounts and to accuse him of pandering to popular taste instead of confining himself rigidly to fact and figures. 'Try it yourself, Holmes!' he has retorted.
The following case can hardly fail to do so, as it is among the strangest happenings in my collection, though it chanced that Watson had no note of it in his collection.
Speaking of my old friend and biographer, I would take this opportunity to remark that if I burden myself with a companion in my various little inquiries it is not done out of sentiment or caprice, but it is that Watson has some remarkable characteristics of his own, to which in his modesty he has given small attention amid his exaggerated estimates of my own performances.
A confederate who foresees your conclusions and course of action is always dangerous, but one to whom each development comes as a perpetual surprise, and to whom the future is always a closed book, is, indeed, an ideal helpmate.
The good Watson had at that time deserted me for a wife, the only selfish action which I can recall in our association. I was alone.
When a gentleman of virile appearance enters my room—
James Dodd (the client) on his partner: There was not a finer lad in the regiment. We formed a friendship - the sort of friendship which can only be made when one lives the same life and shares the same joys and sorrows.
He was my mate - and that means a good deal in the Army. We took the rough and the smooth together for a year of hard fighting.
Since then not a word - not one word, Mr. Holmes, for six months and more, and he my closest pal.
It is only this week that I have been able to take up Godfrey's case again. But since I have taken it up I mean to drop everything in order to see it through.
James Dodd: "I was fond of your son Godfrey, sir. Many ties and memories united us. Is it not natural that I should wonder at his sudden silence and should wish to know what has become of him?"
"Many people, Mr. Dodd," said he, "would take offence at your infernal pertinacity and would think that this insistence had reached the point of damned impertinence." / "You must put it down, sir, to my real love for your son."
I could only pretend to accept the situation and register a vow inwardly that I would never rest until my friend's fate had been cleared up.
"There was no braver man in the regiment. He pulled me out once from under the rifles of the Boers, or maybe I should not be here."
"Listen," I said. "You are going to answer one question before you leave if I have to hold you all night. Is Godfrey dead?"
Clearly my poor friend had become involved in some criminal, or, at the least, disreputable, transaction which touched the family honour. That stern old man had sent his son away and hidden him from the world lest some scandal should come to light.
Even now it was my duty to hunt him out and see if I could aid him.
The window came down to the ground and I could see the whole length of it, but it was his face (Godfrey) which held my gaze.
It was more subtle than that-something slinking, something furtive, something guilty-something very unlike the frank, manly lad that I had known.
That was enough, Mr. Holmes, to assure me that what I had seen was not a vision. Godfrey had run away from me and he had shut a door behind him. Of that I was certain.
"What a pity that he should be away on his travels, for he would have so liked to see me," I continued.
A second man was seated with his back to the window, and I could swear that this second man was Godfrey. I could not see his face, but I knew the familiar slope of his shoulders.
"I warn you, Colonel Emsworth, that until I am assured as to the safety and well-being of my friend I shall never desist in my efforts to get to the bottom of the mystery, and I shall certainly not allow myself to be intimidated by anything which you may say or do."
Holmes writing: Still, elementary as it was, there were points of interest and novelty about it which may excuse my placing it upon record.
The narratives of Watson have accustomed the reader, no doubt, to the fact that I do not waste words or disclose my thoughts while a case is actually under consideration.
Alas, that I should have to show my hand so when I tell my own story! It was by concealing such links in the chain that Watson was enabled to produce his meretricious finales.
'I cannot leave here,' said my client firmly, 'until I hear from Godfrey's own lips that he is under no restraint.'
At the sight of him my client sprang forward with outstretched hand. 'Why, Godfrey, old man, this is fine!'
Godfrey: 'Don't touch me, Jimmie. Keep your distance. Yes, you may well stare! I don't quite look the smart Lance-Corporal Emsworth, of B Squadron, do I?'
His appearance was certainly extraordinary. One could see that he had indeed been a handsome man with clear-cut features sunburned by an African sun—
Godfrey to James Dodd: 'Old Ralph told me you were there, and I couldn't help taking a peep at you. I hoped you would not have seen me, and I had to run to my burrow when I heard the window go up.'
Meanwhile, Colonel Emsworth, we may perhaps assemble in your study, where I could give the necessary explanations.' And here it is that I miss my Watson. By cunning questions and ejaculations of wonder he could elevate my simple art, which is but systematized common sense, into a prodigy. When I tell my own story I have no such aid.
Holmes explaining theories: There was the explanation that he was in hiding for a crime or that he was mad and that they wished to avoid an asylum.
If it were some crime not yet discovered, then clearly it would be to the interest of the family to get rid of the delinquent and send him abroad rather than keep him concealed at home.
Why, then, all this desperate desire for secrecy? Once again I could not get the theory to fit the facts.
Great secrecy would be needed to prevent rumours from getting about and subsequent interference by the authorities.
Dermatologist that Holmes hired: Yes, Mr. Holmes, the coincidence is a remarkable one. But is it coincidence? Are there not subtle forces at work of which we know little?
in the end the missing godfrey didn't actually have the disease he (and everyone including holmes) thought he had and even so, james dodd accepted him and was simply happy he was alive.
as for holmes, well, he got one variable wrong and was surprised to find that godfrey didn't have leprosy. unknowns are unpredictable like that. he published the story anyway possibly as a way of showing how love perseveres despite all of the world working against it.
the sense of loss he carried 23 years prior and as he wrote was a heavy one and he obviously wanted john watson to know, more than anything, that happy endings were possible if you fought hard enough for them.
You must put it down to my real love for your son.
And here it is that I miss my Watson.
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