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Late one evening as I was passing by Sherlock's window, I decided to pay him a visit. He was working as usual, and, as it happens, he was expecting a new client. When the man arrived, I was surprised by his appearance. He was a tall man wearing very expensive clothes and a mask. He spoke with a strong German accent and introduced himself as Count von Kramm speaking on behalf of the King of Bohemia. Before long, Sherlock discovered that the mysterious masked man was in fact the King himself using the disguise and a fake name in order not to be tracked by the press. The problem he had was of a very delicate matter. About five years ago he had been in a close relationship with Irene Adler, a well-known adventurer, who still had some evidence of their relationship, such as papers, letters and a photograph. The King had tried to buy this evidence from her, but she wouldn't sell it. Five times he had arranged to have it stolen for him, but to no effect. The problem now was that he was soon to get married to the daughter of the King of Scandinavia, and he was afraid that Miss Adler would blackmail him by sending the evidence to the press on the day of his wedding. Sherlock reassured the King that the papers and letter could be proven to be forgeries, but, unfortunately, the photo could not. However, Sherlock assured the King that he would do his best to win this picture back and do this in a most delicate way without the press finding out. After he took the address of the lady, the King left, and Sherlock and I arranged to meet the next day. The next day when I showed up at Baker Street, Sherlock hadn't yet arrived, but appeared shortly in the disguise of a drunken-looking groom. "I suppose you were watching the habits and the house of Miss Adler," I replied. "Yes, exactly. And I have found out many useful things about her. She lives a very quiet life, leaves her home in the morning and then comes back every day at five. She has only one visitor - a man named Mr Godfrey Norton, who is a lawyer. Nothing too interesting so far, but listen to this. While I was hanging around the house, I saw her leaving in a hurry and shouting to the driver that he would get extra pay if he reaches the church of St. Monica within 20 minutes. Of course I didn't hesitate in getting into a carriage myself and following her. When I got out in front of the church I saw Mr Norton running towards me, and before I had realised it, he had grabbed me and dragged me to the altar where Irene Adler was already waiting. That is how I became a witness of their secret marriage." "This is a very unexpected turn of affairs," I said. "What now?" Sherlock shared with me his plan, according to which I was supposed to help him by going with him to the house of Miss Adler (or most likely Mrs Norton) and then, on his signal, throw something into the room and shout "fire!". As I trust my friend's methods more than any other and do not have a single doubt that he is right in everything he does, I agreed to the plan. Not long after, with Sherlock disguised as a priest, we made our way to Irene Adler's house and waited for her carriage to appear. But the moment she arrived, something rather unexpected happened. The driver rushed to open the carriage door for her, hoping to get a tip, but was pushed away by a beggar also after some small change. They began fighting, and it was then that I saw Holmes come to life. He rushed over to protect the lady, and in the confusion, he fell to the ground holding his head. Irene Adler rushed into the house and ordered her servants to bring the poor wounded man inside immediately. Holmes was laid on the sofa and the window was opened to let the fresh air in. Then, when nobody was looking, he raised his hand giving me the signal to throw a smoke rocket into the room. "Fire!" I cried and threw the rocket in. All I could see in the clouds of smoke were running figures for a time, followed soon after by the calming voice of Holmes reassuring them that it was only a false alarm. Soon Sherlock left the house thanking Irene for her help. On our way back home he explained everything that had taken place at Irene Adler 's house. "You see Watson, when a woman thinks her house is on fire, her instinct is to rush to the things she values the most as to secure them. Now I know where she keeps the photograph. We shall visit her tomorrow with the assistance of the King himself and collect it." Sherlock did as he planned, but to his great surprise when the three of us turned up at Irene Adler house, we were told that the lady had left England. But to his much greater surprise there was the photograph of her together with the King and a letter addressed to Sherlock himself. "Dear Mr Holmes, you did very well. Until the alarm of fire I had no suspicions at all. Yet with all this, you forced me to reveal to you everything you wanted to know. As for the photograph, your client may feel safe. I'm in love now, and I'm loved by a man so much better then he. Until now I kept the photograph to secure myself, but it is all his now. He may do with it whatever he wishes. Truly yours, Irene Adler Norton." And so, a great scandal was avoided, the King could safely plan his marriage, and Sherlock was beaten by the wit of a woman. Since then I have never heard him laughing at a woman's wit - and when he spoke of Irene Adler, he always called her "the woman".