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A hundred and fifty guineas apiece. Stay where you are. I am lost without my Boswell. And this promises to be interesting. It would be a pity to miss it. I may want your help, and so may he. Sit down in that armchair, Doctor, and give us your best attention.
Then there was a loud and authoritative tap. A man entered who could hardly have been less than six feet six inches in height, with the chest and limbs of a Hercules.
His dress was rich with a richness which would, in England, be looked upon as akin to bad taste. Heavy bands of astrakhan were slashed across the sleeves and fronts of his double-breasted coat, while the deep blue cloak which was thrown over his shoulders was lined with flame-colored silk and secured at the neck with a brooch which consisted of a single flaming beryl. Boots which extended halfway up his calves, and which were trimmed at the tops with rich brown fur, completed the impression of barbaric opulence which was suggested by his whole appearance.
He carried a broad-brimmed hat in his hand, while he wore across the upper part of his face, extending down past the cheekbones, a black vizard mask, which he had apparently adjusted that very moment, for his hand was still raised to it as he entered.
From the lower part of the face he appeared to be a man of strong character, with a thick, hanging lip, and a long, straight chin suggestive of resolution pushed to the length of obstinacy. Watson, who is occasionally good enough to help me in my cases.
Whom have I the honor to address? I understand that this gentleman, your friend, is a man of honor and discretion, whom I may trust with a matter of the most extreme importance. If not, I should much prefer to communicate with you alone. At present it is not too much to say that it is of such weight it may have an influence upon European history.
To speak plainly, the matter implicates the great House of Ormstein, hereditary kings of Bohemia. Our visitor glanced with some apparent surprise at the languid, lounging figure of the man who had been no doubt depicted to him as the most incisive reasoner and most energetic agent in Europe.
Holmes slowly reopened his eyes and looked impatiently at his gigantic client. Then, with a gesture of desperation, he tore the mask from his face and hurled it upon the ground. Why should I attempt to conceal it? Yet the matter was so delicate that I could not confide it to an agent without putting myself in his power. I have come incognito from Prague for the purpose of consulting you. Some five years ago, during a lengthy visit to Warsaw, I made the acquaintance of the wellknown adventuress, Irene Adler.
The name is no doubt familiar to you. For many years he had adopted a system of docketing all paragraphs concerning men and things, so that it was difficult to name a subject or a person on which he could not at once furnish information. In this case I found her biography sandwiched in between that of a Hebrew rabbi and that of a staff-commander who had written a monograph upon the deep-sea fishes.
Born in New Jersey in the year Prima donna Imperial Opera of Warsaw—yes! Retired from operatic stage—ha! Living in London—quite so!
Your Majesty, as I understand, became entangled with this young person, wrote her some compromising letters, and is now desirous of getting those letters back. If this young person should produce her letters for blackmailing or other purposes, how is she to prove their authenticity? That is very bad! Your Majesty has indeed committed an indiscretion. I am but thirty now. It must be bought.
Twice burglars in my pay ransacked her house. Once we diverted her luggage when she travelled. Twice she has been waylaid. There has been no result. And what does she propose to do with the photograph?
You may know the strict principles of her family. She is herself the very soul of delicacy. A shadow of a doubt as to my conduct would bring the matter to an end. And she will do it. I know that she will do it. You do not know her, but she has a soul of steel. She has the face of the most beautiful of women, and the mind of the most resolute of men.
Rather than I should marry another woman, there are no lengths to which she would not go—none. That will be next Monday. Your Majesty will, of course, stay in London for the present? You will find me at the Langham under the name of the Count Von Kramm. I shall be all anxiety. Holmes scribbled a receipt upon a sheet of his note-book and handed it to him. I sat down beside the fire, however, with the intention of awaiting him, however long he might be.
I was already deeply interested in his inquiry, for, though it was surrounded by none of the grim and strange features which were associated with the two crimes which I have already recorded, still, the nature of the case and the exalted station of his client gave it a character of its own. Indeed, apart from the nature of the investigation which my friend had on hand, there was something in his masterly grasp of a situation, and his keen, incisive reasoning, which made it a pleasure to me to study his system of work, and to follow the quick, subtle methods by which he disentangled the most inextricable mysteries.
So accustomed was I to his invariable success that the very possibility of his failing had ceased to enter into my head. It was close upon four before the door opened, and a drunkenlooking groom, ill-kempt and side-whiskered, with an inflamed face and disreputable clothes, walked into the room. With a nod he vanished into the bedroom, whence he emerged in five minutes tweed-suited and respectable, as of old.
Putting his hands into his pockets, he stretched out his legs in front of the fire and laughed heartily for some minutes. I am sure you could never guess how I employed my morning, or what I ended by doing. I suppose that you have been watching the habits, and perhaps the house, of Miss Irene Adler. I will tell you, however. There is a wonderful sympathy and freemasonry among horsy men.
Be one of them, and you will know all that there is to know. I soon found Briony Lodge. It is a bijou villa, with a garden at the back. Chubb lock to the door. Large sitting-room on the right side, well furnished, with long windows almost to the floor, and those preposterous English window fasteners which a child could open. Behind there was nothing remarkable, save that the passage window could be reached from the top of the coach-house.
I walked round it and examined it closely from every point of view, but without noting anything else of interest. I lent the ostlers a hand in rubbing down their horses, and received in exchange twopence, a glass of half and half, two fills of shag tobacco, and as much information as I could desire about Miss Adler, to say nothing of half a dozen other people in the neighborhood in whom I was not in the least interested, but whose biographies I was compelled to listen to.
She is the daintiest thing under a bonnet on this planet. So say the Serpentine-mews, to a man. She lives quietly, sings at concerts, drives out at five every day, and returns at seven sharp for dinner.
Seldom goes out at other times, except when she sings. Has only one male visitor, but a good deal of him. He is dark, handsome, and dashing, never calls less than once a day, and often twice.
He is a Mr. Godfrey Norton, of the Inner Temple. See the advantages of a cabman as a confidant. Шерлок Холмс при смерти 6. Исчезновение леди Фрэнсис Карфэкс 7. Записки о Шерлоке Холмсе. Приключение в пустом доме Приключение норвудского строителя Приключение в пансионе для мальчиков Приключение одинокой велосипедистки Приключение с пропавшим футболистом Приключение с тремя студентами Приключение Черного Питера Приключение с пляшущими фигурками Приключение Чарльса Огустуса Мильвертона Аудиокнига Архив Шерлока Холмса.
Аудиокнига Его прощальный поклон. Аудиокнига Записки о Шерлоке Холмсе. Аудиокнига Приключения Шерлока Холмса. Аудиокнига Этюд в багровых тонах.