Oh, honey. I don’t stop talking about that!
The Post Return stories are the most romantic things I’ve ever read. I like to think of them as the second honeymoon stories. Before the Final Problem, the stories were a lot more carefully written. Aside from ridiculously obscene descriptions about Sticky Spearheads, and Holmes’ O face, you had to pick deeper for the coding. After the Return, though? Watson crammed as much romantic imagery into each description as possible. And the events were far more romantic. Holidays on the Cornish Coast, sharing a small seaside cottage for example.
And of course, the most flashing, big arrows pointing ‘code’ in the entire series (A series which includes private couches in bathhouses, a lot of time spent in France, and…. It includes The Blanched Soldier for crying out loud.) is the opening of The Three Students:
It was in the year ‘95 that a combination of events, into which I need not enter, caused Mr. Sherlock Holmes and myself to spend some weeks in one of our great university towns
This is it. This is my favourite piece of evidence pointing to a romantic, sexual relationship between Holmes and Watson. The Three Students takes place at the beginning of April, in 1895. Our great detective and his constant companion are not out of London for a case, and Holmes is rather irritated at not being there. The pair are staying away long enough that they need to rent furnished rooms, rather than staying in a hotel, and judging by the fact that Holmes has none of his own equipment or books with him, they had to pack in a hurry. Almost as if they were fleeing London.
What combination of events would have taken place at the beginning of April, in 1895, so well known to all of London that Watson feels he doesn’t need to remind his readers of what it was? That had queer men running from London for their own safety?