In hindsight, the solution was obvious. That was Holmes' skill. His "parlour trick" as some victims had described it. I'd seen his leaps of faith, inspired deductions and uncanny conclusions many times. And yet the inevitable unlocking of the puzzle was always obscured from me until Sherlock lifted the veil of smoke from his beloved pipe.
Sometimes it took more than one pipe. Sometimes as many as three. In this case, the unstated conundrum set by his brother, Mycroft, had consumed five refills. It might have broken new ground, but the tobacco slipper had been returned empty to its customary place above the dusty fireplace.
"The request for wine was, I gather, significant dear brother?" Holmes speculated, while tapping the pipe clear of ash and returning it to the mantelpiece.
Mycroft raised an eyebrow in response. "You wish to receive additional guidance…? I must say, I am taken aback."