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     Unable to settle down to reading, I walked slowly round and round, looking at the pictures. Finally I came to the mantel piece, where among other things I saw a small black and white ivory box with sliding lid. As I held it in my hand to examine it, I heard a dreadful cry. “Put it down! Down at once, Watson,” he said, “I hate to have my things touched. Sit down man, and let me have my rest!”
     Then I sat in silent dejection until the stipulated time had passed.
     “Now Watson,” he said, “Have you any change?”
     “Yes,” I replied.
     “How many half-crowns? Put them in your watch – pocket. And all the rest in your trouser pocket. You will light the gas lamp, but it must be half on. You will have the kindness to place some letters and paper on the table within my reach. Now place the ivory box on the table within my reach. Slide the lid a bit with tongs. Put the tongs on the table. Good! Now you can go and fetch Mr. Culverton Smith, of 13 Lower Burke Street’.
     I was hesitant to leave him now. He was delirious.
     “I have never heard of the name,’’ I said.
Holmes, who was sick, exhibits certain characteristics of a normal person when Watson indicates about bringing a doctor in. He deliberately tries to prolong this event for some reason which is not evident. Watson is confused but goes along with what Holmes says. Holmes had asked for 2 hours to spend with Watson before meeting the doctor. He agrees to see the doctor by 6 o'clock. But Watson is unable to be as cool-headed as Holmes. Although he asks Watson to read books, he is unable to do so. He just walks around slowly in rounds, looking at random pictures. He does not know how to while away time as he is eager to bring a doctor and treat Holmes.
When one does not know how to while away time, they look around things or observe things that they previously would not have noticed, as this is better than having an awkward silence. Similarly, Watson walks around and reaches the mantelpiece. The mantelpiece is like the frame of the fireplace. Since London has cold climatic conditions, most houses had a fireplace. People arrange decorative pieces on top of the shelf for people to see. Watson sees a black and white ivory box with a sliding lid. People in the olden days had such lids, which was mostly jewellery box or decorative pieces. Watson was curious to know about it and took it in his hands to examine it. But he heard a scream all of a sudden. It was Holmes who spoke with an angry tone. He gave a dreadful cry that he hates his things being touched. He insists Watson keep it back in its place and come back. He asks him to sit with him until he rests.
They had to sit in silence, just looking at each other. Watson was dejected as he was not allowed to touch anything and had to be idle. They somehow passed the time till 6. Holmes asks if Watson has any change. He specifically asked if Watson had half-crowns. Half crowns are small coins that people use in Britain, which has less value. Holmes instructs Watson to put some of them in his watch pocket and the rest in his trouser pockets. He also asks to light a lamp and make it only half dim. He also asks him to place paper and some letters in his reach. He also asks him to place the ivory box from the fireplace on the table. He also asks Watson to slide the lid of the box. He asks Watson to call Mr. Culverton from 13 Lower Burke Street’. Watson is confused as Holmes had agreed to consult a doctor after two hours. He also says that he had never heard of the name. He did not want to leave Holmes alone as he was already sick and delirious.
Half crown
Meaning of difficult words:
Mantel PieceA shelf above the fireplace
IvoryHard white material taken from elephant's task
SlidingMove smoothly
DreadfulIn worse condition
DejectedSad or depressed
StipulatedThe given or prescribed time
Half-CrownOld British coins
TongsTool used to grip or hold something
DeliriousA disturbed state of mind
FetchTo bring something
State Council of Educational Research and Training 2019. Term 1 English Standard - 10. The Dying Detective - Arthur Conan Doyle (pp. 189 -201). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.