Over the years, much has been written and said of London's thick fogs. Of how they blind the eye and muffle the ear and clog the throat. Little has been mentioned, however, of their aroma. They carry the scents of soot and sea, of tar and Thames, of horses and hansoms, and of the living and the lost. It is, in short, an aroma entirely unique in my experience, and entirely English.
Such were the thoughts in my mind as I pulled my hat down and my muffler up to ward off the pervading chill. The smell of damp wool against my nose blended with the myriad smells of the fog. My walking stick sounded muted as it struck the cobbled street, smacking swiftly as I hurried across the road with a prayer that the silence around me was not misleading. After such a full and tiring day, I could not entirely rely on my reflexes should a cab appear suddenly from the murk. Reaching the other side, I let out a small sigh of relief.
Ahead, I knew, was the door to Baker Street and in a few more strides I could just make out its outline. My bag bumped heavily against my leg as I climbed the steps. Once inside, I shut the door, cutting off the trailing tendrils of fog like a gardener pruning the dead limbs of an aged and hoary tree. Pulling my muffler from my nose and mouth, I took a deep breath. The odours of the fog were driven out by the smell of rich stew, freshly brewed tea, and warm sugar biscuits.
My tread was lighter as I mounted the stairs to the lodgings I shared with Holmes. Gas lamps cast a yellow glow as I entered the sitting room. The delicious smell of the food followed me up and mingled with the sweet scent of Holmes' pipe tobacco. Gloom persisted beyond the windows, and I knew it was Mrs Hudson who was responsible for making the place so warm and homely, but it was the quirk of a smile as Holmes took his pipe from between his lips, and the spark of delight that flashed in his eyes that made the weariness of the day and the weight of the weather lift and break like clouds parting before the sun.
I returned the smile. It felt good to be home.