The next day turned out to be the busiest day of Jack’s short life. After the weapon was taken away by the armed forces, Mr Doyle and Jack endured several hours of questioning by MI5. After the intelligence bureau finished with them, the heads of several other organisations took turns quizzing them. Finally even the local police asked a few questions so they could close their files.
Later that day they received a note from Scarlet and Mr Bell, asking if they could call on them at Bee Street at four o’clock. As Jack finished combing his hair for the tenth time – he had to look his best for Scarlet – he heard a light knock at his door.
“Come in,” he said.
Mr Doyle appeared. “Hello Jack.”
“Are they here, yet?” Jack eyed himself in the mirror.
“No, not yet.” Mr Doyle looked embarrassed.
“What’s wrong, Mr Doyle.”
“Actually, there’s something I need to speak to you about.” The detective entered and sat down heavily on Jack’s bed. Jack pulled the chair out from his desk and sat down.
“What is it?” Jack asked nervously.
“It’s about you assisting me in my cases,” Mr Doyle said. “You see, I did not realise the dangers involved. Perhaps I was foolish. Well, they say there’s no fool like an old fool.”
“You’re not old, Mr Doyle.”
The detective shot him a smile.
“That’s very kind of you, my boy,” Mr Doyle said. “But the truth is that you’re a young man with your whole life ahead of you. I think it might be better if other employment were found for you. Possibly an apprenticeship with a tradesman -.”
“No!” The word exploded from Jack’s mouth. “Mr Doyle! No! You can’t send me away.”
“But, my boy -.”
“No.” Jack said the word firmly. “Mr Doyle. You need me and I need you.”
“But this is dangerous work,” Ignatius Doyle said. “We deal with unpleasant things. Violent people -.”
“There are unpleasant things in life,” Jack said. “And violent people. I know that.”
“But your safety -.”
“I appreciate your concerns, Mr Doyle,” Jack said. “But I can’t hide away from the unpleasantness of life. No-one can.”
I didn’t know how bad things could get, he thought. Not until the accident. But losing my parents was like his world being pulled out from under me.
“But if anything were to happen to you -,” Mr Doyle’s eyes glistened with moisture.
“Mr Doyle.” Jack sat on the bed next to the great detective. “No-one can stop terrible things from happening in life. No-one.”
A long silence followed between them.
“There must be some other possibility,” Jack said.
“This is a dangerous line of work for someone who is unprepared,” Mr Doyle paused. “So you would need to be prepared. You need to be trained.”
Jack held his breath.
Mr Doyle continued. “I would have to train you in everything I know.”
“I can learn.”
Mr Doyle sniffed. “It’s a lot of training.”
“I’m talking about martial arts, the science of detection, biology -.”
“I’m ready,” Jack said.
“Astronomy, physics -.”
“When do I start?”
Mr Doyle took a deep breath. “This may be a long and difficult challenge for you, but -.”
“Eventually you would be ready,” Mr Doyle said. “Which is only appropriate. After all, it is my responsibility as your guardian to raise you to be strong and healthy and -.”
“As my…,” Jack interrupted. “As my guardian?”
“Well, yes,” Mr Doyle frowned. “I thought Mr Daniels from the orphanage would have explained that to you. If you stay here, it means you will become my ward.”
“You mean, like family?”
Mr Doyle nodded. “Like family. But if you don’t want that -.”
“No,” Jack said firmly. “I like that. I like that very much indeed.”
Gloria Scott prepared cake and tea as Jack, Mr Doyle and the Bells settled around the living room.
“What will happen to the bombs now?” Scarlet asked.
“Secreted away,” Mr Doyle explained. “Atomic weapons, like the many other weapons devised by the Phoenix Society, are years ahead of their time. The government has placed them into storage until we reach a point where we can deal with atomic power – if that day ever comes.”