"I think not. At this point I have no idea why he's here or what happened to him, and I'd not want to invite an attacker to join us. Although by the appearance of his overcoat, I should say this happened far from here."
It was true. Ali's incongruous city suit had been stiff with dried blood, his shirt collar saturated to the shoulders. Whatever had brought him here, desperation might well follow on his heels.
When the doctor had gone and Mrs. Hudson was tut-tutting over the ruined clothing, Holmes picked up his hastily abandoned pipe, knocked it out, and began to tamp fresh tobacco into the bowl. I went through the house to secure the doors and windows and draw the curtains, just in case.
"It has to be something to do with Mahmoud," I said when I came back. "Ali would not have come to England without him, and would not have come to us for help except if Mahmoud were in grave danger."
"It is difficult to imagine the one Hazr without the other," Holmes agreed. He got the pipe going, then resumed his three-week-old newspaper.
"But, shouldn't we do something? He may sleep for hours."
"What do you propose?"
"We could telephone to Mycroft."
He did lower the paper a fraction to consider the proposition, then shook his head.
"My brother is in London, unless he's left since this morning. If Ali wanted Mycroft, he'd have stopped there. He wanted us, which meant that either he thought we would not respond to a mere telegraph or telephone message, or secrecy was foremost. No, Ali came from Berkshire to see us, not to speak with Mycroft. We shall have to be patient."
Excerpted from Justice Hall by Laurie R. King Copyright 2002 by Laurie R. King. Excerpted by permission of Bantam, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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