Chapter 484 I’m Glad You’ve Introduced Yourselves
Zhang Heng and Holmes shook hands. The latter didn’t let go right away, though. “You’ve lived at sea for a long time. Seaman? Nomore likely someone who makes decisions on board… the captain or the chief mate? But that was probably a long time ago. Hmm… Interesting. You shouldn’t have been occupying such a high position at your age.
Forgive me—I don’t know much about the politics of the East… You’ve experienced war, more than once, and have seen blood. But you’re not a soldier. This is starting to get interesting. You’re trained in archery. I must say, you are quite the jack-of-all-trades, you’ve been to many places before… Are you a traveler? Last but not least, I hope that I would have a chance to hear you play the piano!”
“Wow! That’s very impressive. Did you just deduce all of that?” Zhang Heng asked. “just a little parlor trick. If I told you, it wouldn’t be impressive anymore. Also, do pardon me, if I should have offended you,” Holmes smiled amiably. Despite the friendly gesture, Zhang Heng could sense the underlying smugness and condescension in his tone, qualities he was so famously associated with. Chronicling someone’s entire life in the first meeting was in itself not a very polite thing to do.
Even though he did ask for Zhang Heng’s pardon at the end, it sounded more like an appropriacy rather than an apology. It was probably a common fault in all geniuses since time immemorial. They often placed themselves in the center, acting recklessly, and almost never taking the feelings of others into consideration.
Sherlock made a move to withdraw his hand but Zhang Heng didn’t let go. “Lacks knowledge in literature, philosophy, and astronomy, and extremely limited understanding of politics, but profoundly knowledgeable in chemistry, a serious bias in botany, knows nothing about gardening, but is extremely well-versed with all kinds of taboos, which you, unfortunately, happen to subscribe to. You should stay away from them…. With your willpower, I believe it is possible. You are good at identifying soil, possess a wealth of but unsystematic knowledge of anatomy, and you’re skilled in boxing, fencing, and Bartitsu.
You have a brother who is a government official; he is smarter than you, but you hate admitting it. Your grandfather was a country squire, but the family fortune declined. By the way, I also hope to hear you play the violin, on the premise that you play it properly, of course. Otherwise it would just sound like an animal howling.” Zhang Heng said all that in one breath. This time it was his new flatmate’s turn to stare. The detective turned to the landlady.
“Did you tell him everything about me?” he asked Mrs. Hudson. The latter shook her head. “I have no idea what is it that you do all day in your room, Mr. Holmes, but I only hope that you do not turn the room into a mess again.”
“Ha!” Holmes frowned as if pondering on a problem. After a minute, he said, “… about my knowledge in chemistry—you were able to tell from the reagents on my hands. As for the violin, you felt the callouses on the tip of my fingers when we shook hands, and I just mentioned that I’ve just been to a concert, so it’s not that difficult to tell. As for my fencing skills, my épée is on the balcony.
You must’ve seen it when you were downstairs. The boxing, on the other hand… I used to do it but some of the habits remained. That’s not too surprising. The Bartitsu aside… how were you able to deduce my accomplishments in various disciplines? It’s no secret, and after we’ve lived together for a while, you’d be able to tell. But this is our first time meeting each other. And my brother-I almost never mention him. Even Mrs. Hudson doesn’t know he exists. What about my late grandfather? How did you know?”
“Arthur Conan Doyle told me. Don’t take it to heart.” Zhang Heng smiled and finally withdrew his hand. “Arthur Conan Doyle? Who is he?” A look of confusion crossed Holmes’ face. “I don’t remember having such a friend.”
Mrs. Hudson, who had been listening by the side, said, “I’m glad you’ve introduced yourselves. Although, it is but slightly strange, because most people introduce themselves, not… But, oh, never mind, what’s important is that you’ve gotten to know each other. I’ll bring some refreshments so you can continue your conversation!” “That’ll be wonderful!” Holmes had clearly taken an interest in Zhang Heng. He removed his hat and coat, hung them on the rack, then settled down on the sofa where he produced a pipe and began filling in the tobacco.
“Mr. Zhang Heng, I must admit that you’re far more fascinating than I imagined. I hold certain old-fashioned stereotypes about Orientals. In fact, I was worried that you would move out within two days like my previous roommates, but now I am sure that we will get along very well.” “Mr. Holmes, I also find your observation and deduction skills absolutely intriguing, and I hope to learn from you.” Zhang Heng made himself comfortable on the sofa opposite the detective. “Onteresting. There are indeed many people who come to my doorstep for help—whether it be a private detective or the police officers in Scotland Yard—whenever they encounter difficult and complicated cases which they cannot solve by themselves, seeking for my counsel on the evidence they’ve collected. But they only want to eat the fish… you’re the first one who actually wants to learn how to fish.”
Holmes paused for a moment. “I don’t mind sharing the skills I’ve unearthed, but some things are easier said than done. It would take a lot of practice. There had been people who had shown interest in learning from me but they always end up giving up in the end. But you’re different. You already possess excellent observation skills. Very well, perhaps you’ll be a quick study.”
“I know I have made it very clear on the advertisement, but for the caution, I feel it best that I go through everything again. The two of us will be renting the flat, and we’ll be splitting the rent. We’ll each have a bedroom to ourselves, and since I was the first to move in, I have already selected my room. But I can assure you that your room is just as comfortable. We’ll share the sitting room, but I have precedence when I need to work. Sometimes I will conduct experiments in my room, and maybe play the violin-I hope you don’t mind. Oh, you can inform me in advance if you have any habits or hobbies.”
“Just one-I hope that you don’t play your violin in the wee hours of the morning.”
“A reasonable request. I will do my best to keep that from happening.” Holmes sounded sincere but noncommittal. He obviously did not trust himself to keep the promise and was prepared to renege.
“Then I have nothing else.”
“Very well, then let us toast to our co-living.” Holmes then shouted into the kitchen, “Mrs. Hudson, we changed our minds! We won’t be having an afternoon tea—it’s time to drink! Could you please bring my treasured bottle of Port to entertain our mysterious Oriental guest?”