If someone had asked Sherlock Holmes later in the year, there is little doubt that he would have said his life began that spring day in 1871 when he met Violet Rushdale upon the moors and ended in the winter some months distant. His mother would have disputed the former claim, and many, both friend and foe, would come to deny the latter. Yet what happened that year nearly cost him his life and his sanity, and strongly influenced the man he was to become. It is well known that the toughest steel that makes the sharpest swords must be plunged into the fire, then beaten and reshaped. So it is as well with the best and wisest of men.