Here is an excerpt from the book Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-Dragon Sigil by Tim Symonds.
It’s the year 1907 Rumours abound that a deadly plot is hatching – not in the fog-ridden back-alleys of London’s Limehouse district or the sinister Devon moors of the Hound of the Baskervilles but in faraway Peking. Holmes’s task – discover whether such a plot exists and if so, foil…
Watson Sets Off For the Forbidden City
The day of departure arrived. A two-horse Hansom carriage dropped me at the boat-train platform for Southampton. The same high excitement coursed through me as thirty years earlier when I set off from exactly the same platform to catch a troop-ship for Bombay to begin my life as an Army doctor. This time a second Hansom accompanied me with the overflow of baggage.
The elderly porter ran an inquiring eye over the assemblage of trunks, bags, leather valises, battered tin-box and packages crowding the platform at my feet. He took off his cap, scratched his head, peered at me and asked waggishly, ‘Away for the entire weekend, are we, Sir?’
I handed him a half-crown – a handsome gratuity – and advised him to keep it to place on a horse called The White Knight at the next Ascot Gold Cup. Exhaust steam vented upwards into the atmosphere through the monster chimney, giving rise to the familiar chuffing sound at the start of many an adventure. The seat opposite me was vacant, empty of a Sherlock Holmes clad in his Poshteen Long Coat with its many flaps and pockets. I wondered what Holmes would make of it when eventually I was able to let him into the secret, that for once I was the principal player in the mission – and at the request of His Majesty’s Government. For the first time since my India and Afghanistan days I would not be the side-kick or, as a rude American described me – in print – ‘the great Detective’s Performing Flea’.
The platform guard waved his green flag with a flourish worthy of a colour guard. I was about to slam the carriage door when the chauffeur who had delivered the invitation from Grey and Haldane came running down the platform and thrust a package into my arms. He fell back as the train pulled away, hand still held to forehead in a salute.