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Lost Souls

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Anne wrung out the cloth again and gently wiped the brow of the feverish man lying prone in the bed. He’d been there since yesterday; brought in with a nasty stab wound in his left side. They’d been doing their best since then to keep the infection at bay.

No one knew the man’s name as he’d been unconscious since his arrival. While it was a blessing while the doctor was cleaning and stitching up his injury, his comatose state was becoming more of a concern by the hour.

"Hol…" the man groaned softly. She leaned closer hoping for a clue to his identity but the man fell silent. She resumed her ministrations and her worrying. Surely he had a wife or a family who must be searching for him.

Finishing her work, she was about to pick up the bowl and exit the room when the door suddenly slammed opened. A ragged looking man with dark hair, wrinkled clothing, and several days growth of beard burst in. Anne instinctively positioned herself between the intruder and her patient, holding the empty container in front of her as a shield.

"Who are you? You can't come in here and disturb the patient. He must rest."

The man ignored her, quickly pushing past and kneeling by the bed. She was about to scream for help when she heard him say softly, "Watson… Oh my dearest one, I am so sorry."

She watched as the stranger gently stroked the injured man's cheek and continued in the same gentle voice, "I found you as soon as could."

"Holmes?" The voice was weak but clear.

"I'm here Watson. Lestrade has the men who hurt you in custody. You're safe now."

Watson opened his eyes. "Home?"

"Not yet, but as soon as you're able." Holmes moved his hand down to hold Watson's. "I promise."

Convinced by the wild-eyed stranger's calming words and beginning to feel like she was eavesdropping on something very private, Anne quietly slipped from the room to find the doctor. She had been right, Watson did have someone frantically looking for him. Clearly, the best healing for her patient now would be to leave him in the care of his friend.