"When we met, I should have seen
you were the one~"
30th of January, 1894
Watson had just been back in 221B for a few weeks when I was in for the next surprise, if for one with far more consequences than I could have imagined.
It had been a dull morning, and after lunch I had retired to my room and upon finding there was nothing pressing I could do, I had resolved to spend some time with a good book. Now I stood before my shelf wondering until I spotted a yet unread volume. I could not prevent my fingers from slightly shaking as I hesitated to take the book. But then I told myself not to be silly and almost defiantly pulled it out between a volume of 'Selected German Poems' and a collection of Poe's short stories. Heavily weighed the book in my hand.
In silver letters the title was printed upon the hard-cover: 'THE FINAL PROBLEM'. The volume was bound in linen, and the binding felt warm and familiar on my skin as my fingers absent-mindedly stroked along the smaller inscription below the title: 'by John H. Watson.' I had been given this book by Watson already some time ago, but I never had been able to bring myself to actually read it. The events described still did smart considerably when I thought about them. I opened the volume, and prepared for the inevitable reaction which I had to expect from myself upon reading about the last case that Sherlock Holmes had ever taken up.
"It is with a heavy heart that I take up my pen to write these the last words in which I shall ever record the singular gifts by which my friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes was distinguished."
The finality of these words already brought tears to my eyes. Never have I been affected so much by a story: a story which I knew only too well, a story depicting events which were, as I was sure, true. And when I closed the book after reading the last lines in which Watson referred to Holmes as "him whom I shall ever regard as the best and wisest man whom I have ever known.", I was helplessly sobbing.
In my misery triggered by the re-narration I almost didn't notice the discreet knock on my door. "Yes?", I answered, doing my best to hide my sadness and to sound as light-hearted as possible. I did not want it to be discernible in my voice that I had been crying. But I could not help to sound feeble and frail.
The door slowly opened, and Watson looked into the room: "May I come in?" He looked at me, and in a worried voice he said: "Uhm... Are you alright?" His eyes fell onto the volume placed on my lap with my fingers tightly folded around it. He obviously realized at once why I had been crying; Holmes had really sometimes done injustice to Watson's deductive powers.
"Oh. That bad?" He asked me, and I, even managing to form a smile, corrected him: "No. That good. It's admirably well written." He also allowed a smile, but an instant later put on a serious expression. He was still standing in the doorway, and when he was now looking from me to the floor and then back to me, the situation started to seem a little awkward.
Finally he spoke up again: "Rebecca- may I have a word with you?"
A little insecure I replied: "Well, of course- but whatever might the matter be?" He cautiously closed the door behind him, and came over, sitting down in the other armchair. His voice had an almost pleading tinge in it as he said:
"Something... serious. I beg you will listen to me, Rebecca, and not interrupt me. Please, let me finish- even if what I am about to say would be unacceptable, offending, or- God forbid- appalling to you."
I gave a shy, nervous laugh: "Why, Doctor, I cannot think of anything you could say which could be 'appalling'. But be assured that I will hear you."
Watson took a deep breath which almost seemed like a sigh, and mumbled rather to himself: "I have resolved to do this- so I will not shrink now." I silently wondered what this fuss was all about. Before I came to a conclusion he continued loudly but still hesitating: "Rebecca, I want you to know that I am deeply indepted to you for your always being there for me- when I returned from Switzerland... and when I came to you last June, when you kindly let me move in again, without ever even questioning my motives or the actual background of my demand.
I want you to know that you are... important to me."
Astonished, I tried to say anything, but my lips would not let any words pass. So I remained silent as the doctor resumed a little irresolutely:
"I hope that you feel at least some sort of... uhm, softer emotion towards me too..."
Watson reached out and gently took my hand into his. His fingers were warm on my somewhat cold skin. Suddenly I felt self-conscious and insecure. I couldn't make head nor tail of what was just happening.
"Dr. Watson? What-..." I had expected anything but the following sentence and so it could not fail to evoke blank astonishment in me:
"Rebecca, I... I love you, and I am asking you... to be my wife."
I was stunned. Everything seemed like a dream which I expected to awake from in the very next instant. I could see nothing but Watson's handsome face- his bright blue eyes full of emotion, his ravishing yet shy smile. All the world blurred round me, and nothing was important but this. My amazement slowly turned into radiant happiness as soon as I dared to believe what I had just heard. The tender feeling which had slowly blossomed over the years now stood in full bloom, and the gentle intuitiveness now became a certainty. Still I was slightly wavering but I collected myself to answer:
"Oh... Uhm, Dr. Wat- I mean, John- I think I... love you, too."
"So you will... accept my hand in marriage?"
Instead of an answer, I closed my eyes and felt how he drew me into an embrace which I had never dared to hope for. "My dear Rebecca..."
As I listened to his soft, endearing voice whispering pledges of troth into my ear, I finally was able for once- if just for this moment- to completely forget about 'The Final Problem'.