In the Canadian town of LaPier, Ontario, Reverend Jasper Farley wakes up in the church’s belfry after working on the bell the previous night. He checks the time and runs downstairs to ring the bell, but no one arrives. Jesper goes out but sees no one, and goes to the home of Galen LaPier. Galen is lying in the doorway, dead of no apparent cause. Jesper continues searching and finds Galen’s wife dead at the table. The reverend checks more homes and finds every one dead. He runs to the home of Dr. Millet, only to discover that he’s dead as well. People are scattered on the road throughout the town, and Jesper screams for help.
At the Victorian Arms Hotel, Arthur welcomesHarry back from New York. Harry says that someone stole his suitcase, but he had no trouble sleeping. Arthur says that the writing is going well, and neither one of them believes the other. Harry says that he looked up a respiratory doctor in New York and arranged for him to review Touie’s case. Adelaide comes out and says that she decided to stay for a while, and met with Walbridge two days ago. She finally tells her friends that Benjamin was an undercover agent and faked his death for his safety and hers. Harry wonders if it was a hysterical vision, and Arthur agrees with him for once. Adelaide says that she’s not going with them and will search for Benjamin. She can’t leave him alone knowing that he’s in danger. When Arthur says that there’s a case in LaPier, Adelaide points out that there will always be another case, but Arthur points out that 47 people are dead and more may die, and they need Adelaide.
The trio take a carriage to the town, and Corporal Bazay greets them at the road block. He says that the Feds are sending specialists, and refuses to risk his men’s lives. Bazay reports that Jesper survived whatever killed the others, and he went back in and won’t come out, and suggests that it was a sneak attack by the Indians. Harry dismisses him as a bigot, and Bazay invites them to enter LaPier and risk their lives if they want.
Arthur checks the bodies and confirms that there’s no sign of trauma, while Adelaide points out that no one tried to run. They go to the church and finds Jesper asleep. He wonders why God spared him after entrusting him with their lives, and tells them what happened to him. he dozed off around one o’clock and woke up at seven, and there were no signs of influenza or other illness. Jesper says that to ward against influenza, he drank nothing but boiled coffee, and refuses to leave LaPier and abandon his fellow villagers.
Outside, Harry suggests that it was influenza, but Arthur notes that no strain of flu kills that fast. Adelaide suggests that it might be the work of God... or the Devil. Harry says that she isn’t that gullible, and realizes that she doesn’t trust Benjamin. Arthur finds dead mice and insists that it isn’t the flue. They go to Dr. Millet’s office and find the man dead along with his dog. Millet dropped his watch at five minutes to seven, and they figure that he was alive at that time.
Adelaide looks out the window and sees an Indian in a nearby field. She goes out but the man is gone. Arthur checks Millet’s records, and discovers that Millet only had one patient in the last four days: 12-year-old girl Libby Cotter. She was never checked out, and the trio find her in bed, alive. Lily says that she was sick to the stomach and her parents brought her to Millet four days earlier. She doesn’t remember anything about the last three days. They break the news to her about the death of her parents, and the girl breaks into tears.
Arthur and Adelaide take Libby to Bazay so that he can contact her relatives, and return to Millet’s office. Arthur thinks that Libby had a kidney ailment, Addison’s Disease, but Millet’s records show no indication that Jesper had it as well. The writer admits that he doesn’t have a medical explanation, and Adelaide points out that neither survivor drank water. As Adelaide leaves first, she spots the Indian briefly but he disappears before the others join her.
The trio goes to the town’s water supply in the nearby hills by the mines. Arthur confirms that the water is highly acidic and possibly toxic. However, he points out that everyone wouldn’t have died at the same time. Harry suggests that everyone downriver might be at risk. The trio takes a carriage to the next village, and Bazay hails “Walt” Wattabakinai. Walt comes out and Adelaide realizes that he’s the Indian that she saw. He confirms that everyone in the village is fine, and Adelaide says that they need to stop drinking the poisoned water. Walt figures that Bazay is lying to them again, and Arthur says that they’ll stay despite the corporal’s advice. Walt agrees to let them stay and Bazay leaves.
That night, they stay in Walt’s cabin. He says that he went to LaPier because he doesn’t fear justice. The Indian explains that the white men were killed for crimes against his people. A long time ago, a prospector came to their valley and found copper. They forced the Indians off of their land, and those who resisted were killed. Walt figures that the day of reckoning has finally come, and Galen LaPier was the prospector who discovered the copper. He says that they did not take lives, and then takes a drink of water. The Indian then talks about Sherlock Holmes and says that he likes the fictional detective. Arthur says that he was fond of him, but then his father died and his wife took ill.
Later, Walt sits with Harry and says that he feels fine. He describes his dream of returning to their home, and Harry wonders how he tells the difference between dreams and reality. Walt says that there is no difference. Arthur and Adelaide return and say that there’s no sign of illness among the villagers. Harry offers to stand the first watch, and returns Benjamin’s book that he borrowed from Adelaide.
As he stands watch, Harry reads Freud’s book on the interpretation of dreams. Meanwhile, Arthur reads one of his own books, signed by Touie. Adelaide reads Benjamin’s book, Tom Sawyer.
The next morning, Harry and Arthur go outside and Arthur admits that everyone is still fine. Harry says that he was reading about dreams. In dreams, someone can’t read, so Harry wrote himself a note to confirm that he isn’t dreaming. Arthur figures that Harry is wondering if he’s dreaming the mysterious woman he keeps seeing, and Harry insists that she’s no ghost. The writer asks what Harry would think if Cecelia appeared to him, and Harry says that it would mean he was going insane. Adelaide joins them and shows them an inscription in Tom Sawyer, a quote from the book. Walbridge’s going-out-of-business ad uses the same quote, Arthur figures that it’s a cipher and the anarchists are using it to send bombing targets to their co-conspirators. Bazay arrives and says that it isn’t over: there are three more deaths in a village upriver from the mine.
The trio investigate the corpses, and Adelaide points out that they were with Walt all night so he’s innocent. Bazay demands answers, and Arthur advises him to evacuate the valley.
Back in LaPier, Harry tells Arthur that Bazay has migrated the locals to Toronto. Arthur is checking the records and discovers that the three new victims were all in bed when they died. However, he has no idea what it means. Adelaide breaks the cipher and the message spells out “King Edmond: September 2, 01.” They figure the anarchists plan to kill the king in two days, and Adelaide insists that they have to go to London immediately. Harry says that she should send a telegram, and Arthur agrees that Adelaide can save more lives by staying in Canada. Harry wonders why Benjamin had the coded book in the first place, and Adelaide says that the inscription wasn’t in Benjamin’s handwriting. She figures that the Home Office gave it to him, and Harry points out that Benjamin lied to her. Adelaide agrees to send a telegram to Merring and walks out.
That night, Arthur continues going through the records. Harry tries to sleep and finally gets up to go for a walk. Meanwhile, Adelaide hears a knock at her door and answers it. It’sBenjamin, and he says that he had to see her again. He ‘s had someone watching her, and Adelaide asks if he has anything to do with the plot to kill the king. Benjamin says that he’s trying to stop it and they kiss.
As Harry walks through the village, a woman follows him. He ducks into an alley and waits, and then grabs the woman. It’s the young woman, who speaks in Cecelia’s voice. She calls him by his real name and says that he’ll come back to New York very soon. Harry checks the writing anddiscovers that he can’t read it, and realizes that he’s dreaming.
After making love, Benjamin dozes off. Adelaide sees the copy of Tom Sawyer on her nightstand, and turns to see that Benjamin is gone.
The next morning, Harry wakes up in bed, the written note next to him. he can read it and sighs in relief.
Adelaide gets up goes to the window, and sees two birds outside. She finds Arthur asleep downstairs and wakes him, and then asks why the birds weren’t affected. Adelaide figures that they lived because they were above the killer: carbon dioxide. Addison’s causes alkalosis--a deficiency of CO2--soher ailment let her survive an excess of it. Jesper was in the belfry, above the heavy-than-air gas.
The trio goes to the mine and Arthur checks for gas. The match goes out, and they realize the mine must have tapped into a pocket of the gas. It surged through the village, asphyxiating everyone in its path. Enough remained to kill the three victims in the next village, who were in bed and only a few feet off the ground. There’s another entrance to the mine upriver near the second village, and Arthur congratulates Adelaide on saving a lot of lives. When the two men say that now they can go back to London and save Benjamin, Adelaide says that it’s stupid and dangerous... and she won’t risk their lives by taking them with her. She tells them that she couldn’t live with herself if anything happened to them.
Later, Harry visits Walt and tells him what happened. The white men will have to leave the valley, and Walt is satisfied. Walt offers the hospitality of his village to Jesper and Lily, but Harry points out that they have other arrangements. The escape artist then says that he just lost his mother and it’s killing him. Walt says that she’s not lost, and the dead remain with them as part of the living. He assures Harry that Cecelia is not lost: she’s home. As Harry leaves, Walt tells him that Cecelia wants him to say hello to the President. McKinley is coming to Buffalo the next day.
At the hotel, Harry tells the others that the Pan-Am Expo is in Buffalo, and McKinley is visiting. The President will be there on September 2 and is staying at the King Edmond Hotel. They realize that the anarchists aren’t targeting Edmond: they’re targeting McKinley.
The trio wire ahead and travel to Buffalo. Agent Stuart Branowski is waiting and says that he can’t protect McKinley until he has proof of a threat. Harry convinces Branowski to take him to McKinley, and Arthur and Adelaide check the hotel lobby. Arthur sees one suspicious looking man on the mezzanine.
Harry bursts into McKinley’s room and says that he’s there to save his life.
Adelaide scrutinizes the crowd. Meanwhile, the man Arthur is watching serves a guest with a legal document and leaves. Arthur then spots a man at the railing and realizes that it’s Benjamin. He introduces himself and says that they’re both there to stop McKinley’s assassination. Benjamin smiles and agrees, and glances down at the copy of Tom Sawyer in his bag.
McKinley and his party arrive in the lobby. Benjamin draws a gun and Arthur, seeing him, grabs the man. The gun goes off, hitting Arthur in the chest, and Benjamin aims at McKinley. However, Adelaide arrives and shoots her husband. She and Harry run to Arthur, who says that he’s all right. Adelaide then goes to the dying Benjamin, who says that he tried to warn her. He vandalized her flat and took his things, but made the mistake of leaving the book. Benjamin insists that he freed people, and begs Adelaide to believe that he loves her. Adelaide finally says that she does as Benjamin dies.
Arthur tells Harry that he underestimated his wound. Arthur apparently dies, and Sherlock Holmes appears and tells Arthur he’s thinking of his regrets... and killing off his literary detective is more important to him than his wife and children. Observing Arthur, Sherlock realizes that Arthur is thinking of Touie waking up and how much she’d love to find out Arthur had resurrected Sherlock. Arthur points out that Touie didn’t like Holmes, and Sherlock says that she loved how passionate and happy Arthur was when writing about Holmes. The writer agrees and wonders if it’s too late.
Later on the liner heading back to London, Adelaide stands on the deck alone. She tosses Tom Sawyer into the ocean, crying. Arthur and Harry join her, and Arthur says that he’s doing better every day. He thanks Adelaide for saving his life, and Adelaide admits that she shot Benjamin because he broke her heart. When they get home, Adelaide is going to stay with Scotland Yard. A telegram arrives for Arthur, from Houdini’s respiratory specialist in New York. He’s agreed to travel to London to treat Touie. Arthur thanks Harry, who jokingly asks for reimbursement for his suit that Arthur bled on.
Later, Arthur begins a new Holmes story: The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Harry is sitting on the deck and dozes off. After a moment, he glances over and sees Cecelia sitting next to him, smiling. He takes out his note and discovers that he can read it.
Written by Gadfly on May 15, 2016