'A Scandal In Bohemia' takes place after the events of 'A Study In Scarlet' and 'The Sign of Four'. Dr. Watson is married, so no longer lives at 221B Baker Street, and hasn't seen Holmes in some time. He drops by for a visit, and Holmes is happy to see him, which he demonstrates by observing that Watson has gained seven-and-a-half pounds since his marriage. Pleasantries out of the way, he invites Watson to become involved in his new case: he has received a mysterious letter stating that a gentleman will be calling on Holmes at 8 pm to consult on a confidential matter. Holmes examines the letter carefully and mines all sorts of information from the paper, the writing, and the words, so he is prepared for their visitor when he arrives.
Five years before, when Wilhelm was still Crown Prince, he engaged in a liaison with a young opera singer and "adventuress" named Irene Adler. Over the course of their relationship, Wilhelm wrote her a number of, ah, indiscreet letters which she still has in her possession. He is now engaged to be married to the daughter of the King of Scandinavia, who is a notorious stickler for propriety. One whiff of scandal will cause his future father-in-law to call the whole thing off, and Irene Adler is threatening to send the letters to Wilhelm's fiancee upon the public announcement of the betrothal, in three days time.
clergyman who had appeared under such convenient circumstances. After he left her house, she donned men's clothing and followed him- it was Irene who wished Holmes goodnight on the previous evening. She explains that she and her new husband love each other, and are leaving the country to start a new life. She also assures him that the King need have no fear of her ruining him, despite his ill-treatment of her. She merely intends to hold on to the photograph as an assurance that Wilhelm will not harass them in any way.
In his concluding remarks, Watson observes that Holmes doesn't joke much anymore about the cleverness of women, and that ever after, he refers to Irene Adler simply as The Woman.