Sherlock Holmes,
Consulting Diplomat

by Graeme Ackland
Master Aenigmatist

The Case of the Remaining Border

Occasionally, a flash of inspiration comes and the solution to a problem becomes clear even to me. Holmes was still recovering from his fall at Reichenbach, and had delegated me to examine the reports from throughout Europe regarding Moriarty's movements.

My first plan had been to leave London and set up a trap for Moriarty in a Continental province. This had not been successful, and the information I'd collected showed why.

The papers in front of me were records of Moriarty's border crossings in Europe. Only land borders were available, and none of them were dated. Studying the map, I had carefully checked each border, and it seemed that since leaving Switzerland, Moriarty had crossed every land border exactly once, with the exception of those into the province where I thereupon decided to lie in wait for him. Somehow, I imagine, he had divined my plan, and was avoiding me!

But on a further check, however, I realised that one border remained uncrossed. I remembered Holmes telling me once that having eliminated all other possibilities, the one that remained, however improbable, must be true -- this remaining border was that truth!

Now Moriarty's pattern was clear to me. I raced from the hotel to obtain a ticket to the uncrossed border. Rather pleased with my own cleverness, I sent a telegram to Holmes in London, inviting him to join me if he felt able.

It took rather longer than I had hoped to buy the tickets, and on my return I found a reply from Holmes.

The matter has become most urgent Watson, and I have had to leave before Moriarty slips us again. Join me as soon as you can.
I was most annoyed that Holmes had been able to arrange his journey faster than I. But by the next day, I was ready to intercept Moriarty's final crossing. However, Holmes had yet to arrive.

It proved a fruitless wait, for neither Holmes nor Moriarty appeared. I re-examined my telegram, and realised that I had forgotten to mention either the location of my original trap or of the final border. I had simply assumed Holmes knew where I was awaiting Moriarty. After a few weeks, I returned to my hotel, where I was stunned to find Holmes waiting, furious.

"Where were you, Watson?" he stormed. "Having read your information as to Moriarty's whereabouts, I hastened there and lay in wait. After a few days, when you had still not arrived, I was forced to enlist the help of the local constabulary. They managed to capture a few of Moriarty's accomplices, but the Professor was warned by a informant among the police and had fled. The pattern is broken and our chance is gone. Let us return to Baker Street.'

On our way back to London, I explained where I'd been. Holmes groaned and explained the error in my reasoning.

In which province did Watson set his original trap? When Moriarty didn't appear there, to which border did Watson then travel and what was his second error in doing so? Finally, where did Holmes encounter Moriarty's gang? Mail your answers to The Pouch. (If you need a little help, the good doctor has made a couple hints available.)

-- Dr. John H. Watson

via Graeme Ackland
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