Sherlock Holmes took his bottle from the corner of the mantelpiece, and his hypodermic syringe from its neat morocco case. With his long, white, nervous fingers he adjusted the delicate needle and rolled back his left shirtcuff. For some time his eyes rested thoughtfully upon the sinewy forearm and wrist, all dotted and scarred with innumerable puncture-marks. Finally, he thrust the sharp point home, pressed down the tiny piston, and sank back into the velvet-lined armchair with a long sigh of satisfaction.
"Which is it to-day," Watson asked, "morphine or cocaine?"
He raised his eyes languidly.
"It is cocaine," he said, "a seven per-cent solution. Would you care to try it?"
"No, indeed," Watson answered brusquely.
"I suppose that its influence is physically a bad one. I find it, however, so transcendently stimulating and clarifying to the mind that its secondary action is a matter of small moment."
"But consider! Count the cost! Your brain may, as you say, be roused and excited, but it is a pathological and morbid process which may at least leave a permanent weakness. You know, too, what a black reaction comes upon you. Surely the game is hardly worth the candle."
"My mind," Holmes said, "rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram, or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. But I abhor the dull routine of existence."