View Single Post
Old 11-20-2006, 09:54 AM
CalMeacham's Avatar
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 42,973
I'm betting that you're reading the Sherlock Holmes story "The Naval Treaty". In that one , it's pretty clear that the young official has suffered an immense shock and has gone into a slort of temporary insanity for non-physical reasons. He's had a breakdown because he managed to lose (or more correectly, to have stolen out from under his nose) a State Secret of vital importance. He doesn't actually have any illness due to infection, bacteria, or virus. Saying "an attack of brain fever" sounded nicer than "he went crazy" or "He went insane", and had that encouraging bit of ambiguity that let listeners assume that this was some sort of temporary organic disease.

Fortunately, Holmes was able to bring the case to a satrisfactory and mostly happy conclusion. And Phelps' "brain fever" was actually a clue. Or at least things associated with it were.