Watson begrudgingly visits relatives in Oxford only to find a case he did not know existed. He learns his dear friend was never at liberty to share the tale. Years have passed since the affair and with Holmes's passing Watson feels obliged to know the story. Watson is taken back to 1873 when Holmes was an undergraduate studying terrestrial science at Grenville College. 'The Dutch Nativity', a painting donated to the university has been missing for three weeks, along with an assortment of other Oxfordiana. William Spooner, a young lecturer in Ancient History recognises Holmes's astute nature and calls on him to investigate.