"Really, Watson, you excel yourself," said Holmes, pushing back his chair and lighting a cigarette. "I am bound to say that in all the accounts which you have been so good as to give of my own small achievements you have habitually underrated your own abilities. It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it. I confess, my dear fellow, that I am very much in your debt."
Holmes' backhanded compliment underlies the bizarre relationship between the detective and his crony, Watson. Holmes enjoys leading Watson on, letting him think he has the right answer, when in fact the detective himself is holding all the cards. In as much as Watson serves as a stand-in for the readers, Holmes' coy little encouragement tempts us to try our hand at detection as well, even if we will never be as good at solving mysteries as Sherlock Holmes.