Howell looked tired. His finely groomed moustache was, as always, finely groomed, yet several day's growth of stubble clung to his sharp face. He wore an old smoking jacket with a large scorch mark on the left breast where he had apparently placed a still lit pipe, concentrating on some matter that had shut out more rational thought. He was agitated and could not remain still. He had heard that the city's 'Premier' consulting detective (Europe's?) often took to scratching at a violin as an act of concentration, but Howell would, in his own words, 'be damned if he had the time to decipher tadpoles on a page just for the pleasure of recreating the sound of a rusty gate'. This would have, however, been preferable (at least in Whittle's mind) to Howell's preferred relaxation technique of throwing knives at a heavy wooden board that had replaced the mirror above the fireplace. In fairness his aim had improved as the cluster of nicks near the centre of the board suggested.
'James, I cannot help but think these events are connected. My recent trip to Amsterdam, for that is where I have been, simply reinforced the gravity of the situation we face." Howell stooped to pick up a cricket bag lying by a pail of coal, pulling out a stout wooden stake." Our new friends have provided us with a few new tools".
"That would have been damned useful in our, well, 'First Case' with those things" I added.
"Indeed it would have, James, indeed it would have." Howell paused, looking around for his pipe, "I have been thinking about that night. It may be useful to go over it again, after all, we have barely spoken of it."