Holmes stood next to the door, murmuring and occasionally frowning, his brows knitted and his eyes tightly closed. All of his manner displayed the known signs of his introspection. That put me again in a situation I had experienced so many times before: I was anxious to follow his train of thought, to know what currently was on that mastermind of his, to understand what he was brooding over, now seated motionless on his bed and staring onto the floor. But I could not venture to ask. I waited patiently until he would decide on his own to tell me about the subject of his contemplation. I knew that sooner or later he would present the results of his reasoning to me.
And I was not disappointed: Suddenly he looked up and indicated that I should sit down beside him. I came over, still not saying a word, supressing my anticipation. "Watson, the first thing that we will need is experience. Unfortunately, we don't know enough about this institution and its daily routine. Once we have acquired more knowledge of these- and a ground plan of this building, at best- we can take further steps. We gain the experience we need by staying on alert and being attentive to the smallest details- as I always advise to be. But what puzzles me is how to lay our hands on this plan."
Holmes glanced at me as I asked: "You think we should try to flee then?" He nodded.
"Alright. I suppose that sooner or later we will be supplied with food. Maybe we can get something out of the warden then?", I suggested. He suddenly smiled.
"Yes, Watson. I think we can try."
After the first pride that rose in me for having a good idea had faded a little, I started to wonder how it should help us on to talk to that terrible and annoying person. But if Holmes thought that it would, then I was not in the position to object to this plan. Thankfully we did not have to wait long until the jingling sound of the keys reappeared. Holmes looked out the window again, all attention.
And then... The lock gave a click. With a creek the door slowly opened and more light from the corridor flooded the cell. A figure stepped in. I was glad as I realized that this time it was not the unfriendly warden whose acquaintance we had already made but a woman who stood in the ray of light.
Since when do women work in prisons?
She was wearing the same outfit as the male warden.
But anyway, she looked at us in an almost friendly way, and said: "It's 12 o'clock now. Lunch time. Come along please."
I wondered how such a woman, polite and seeming gentle-natured, came to work for an evil mastermind like Moriarty was. Holmes gave me a warning glance, then we followed the lady out of the cell. I tried to pay attention to everything we came along, but the only things I saw were white walls, of which each looked like the other. We had not walked for long, when Holmes spoke up:
"Excuse me, Miss- where exactly are we at the moment?"
She looked at him in surprise, but then she smiled: "Ah, Seb told me about you. You're both new here, right?" After we had confirmed that, she continued: "So, we have three main corridors here. Your compartment is in the 'B' tract. But in 'A' there are no inhabitants, only offices and so on. In 'C' is also the hall where the leisure activities are held. We're going there now. You don't have to have lunch in your cell... unlike some others..."
I wanted to ask about these 'others', but Holmes motioned me to keep quiet. I understood it would not be wise to inquire farther or we would probably arouse suspicions. So we both did not say anything and followed her until we reached a large barred door. We watched as the woman pulled out a key she wore on a thin necklace and which she had hidden under her shirt. She unlocked the door and ushered us in, carefully closing it behind us.
Inside there were many tables, all lined up and also positioned in a way that made it easier to view them all from a single point. We were led to one on the left, and sat down.
Stealthily I looked around the faces of the others sitting there. No one returned my glance, some were staring to the ceiling, some at the floor or the table and a few had either closed her eyes or were busy with something else. I watched some individuals and then whispered to Holmes: "The Professor seems to have some of them being drugged! We should be careful with the food..." He gave me a short glance. "Thanks, Watson."
Soon we all had before us a dish and as I had advised, we were extremely wary. Apparently, there was nothing in the food this time though. We were led back to our cell, and I could see in Holmes' face that he was brooding over something. All the way his keenly observing eyes darted over everything that was visible.
I wonder whether we have any chance to get through with our plan.
As much as I trusted Holmes and his mental powers, I could hardly be optimistic. We were not dealing with some common criminal this time, after all...