Gilbert Keith

Chesterton

The Innocence of Father Brown

Father Browns Einfalt

Übersetzt von Hedwig Maria von Lama
Synchronisation und Ergänzungen © Doppeltext 2012

TITELBLATT

THE BLUE CROSS

THE SECRET GARDEN

THE QUEER FEET

THE FLYING STARS

THE INVISIBLE MAN

THE HONOUR OF ISRAEL GOW

THE WRONG SHAPE

THE SINS OF PRINCE SARADINE

THE HAMMER OF GOD

THE EYE OF APOLLO

THE SIGN OF THE BROKEN SWORD

THE THREE TOOLS OF DEATH

IMPRESSUM

THE BLUE CROSS

Between the sil­ver rib­bon of morn­ing and the green glit­ter­ing rib­bon of sea,
the boat touched Har­wich and let loose a swarm of folk like flies,
among whom the man we must fol­low was by no means con­spicu­ous — nor wished to be.
There was noth­ing not­able about him, ex­cept a slight con­trast between the hol­i­day gaiety of his clothes and the of­fi­cial grav­ity of his face.
His clothes in­cluded a slight, pale grey jack­et, a white waist­coat, and a sil­ver straw hat with a grey-blue rib­bon.
His lean face was dark by con­trast, and ended in a curt black beard
that looked Span­ish and sug­ges­ted an Eliza­beth­an ruff.
He was smoking a ci­gar­ette with the ser­i­ous­ness of an idler.
There was noth­ing about him to in­dic­ate the fact that the grey jack­et covered a loaded re­volver,
that the white waist­coat covered a po­lice card, or that the straw hat covered one of the most power­ful in­tel­lects in Europe.
For this was Valentin him­self, the head of the Par­is po­lice and the most fam­ous in­vest­ig­at­or of the world;
and he was com­ing from Brus­sels to Lon­don to make the greatest ar­rest of the cen­tury.
Flam­beau was in Eng­land. The po­lice of three coun­tries had tracked the great crim­in­al at last from Ghent to Brus­sels, from Brus­sels to the Hook of Hol­land;
and it was con­jec­tured that he would take some ad­vant­age of the un­fa­mili­ar­ity and con­fu­sion of the Euchar­ist­ic Con­gress, then tak­ing place in Lon­don.
Prob­ably he would travel as some minor clerk or sec­ret­ary con­nec­ted with it;
but, of course, Valentin could not be cer­tain; nobody could be cer­tain about Flam­beau.
It is many years now since this co­los­sus of crime sud­denly ceased keep­ing the world in a tur­moil;
and when he ceased, as they said after the death of Ro­land, there was a great quiet upon the earth.
But in his best days (I mean, of course, his worst) Flam­beau was a fig­ure as statuesque and in­ter­na­tion­al as the Kais­er.
Al­most every morn­ing the daily pa­per an­nounced that he had es­caped the con­sequences of one ex­traordin­ary crime by com­mit­ting an­oth­er.
He was a Gas­con of gi­gant­ic stature and bod­ily dar­ing; and the wild­est tales were told of his out­bursts of ath­let­ic hu­mour;
how he turned the juge d’in­struc­tion up­side down and stood him on his head, “to clear his mind”;
how he ran down the Rue de Rivoli with a po­lice­man un­der each arm.
It is due to him to say that his fant­ast­ic phys­ic­al strength
was gen­er­ally em­ployed in such blood­less though un­dig­ni­fied scenes;
his real crimes were chiefly those of in­geni­ous and whole­sale rob­bery.
But each of his thefts was al­most a new sin, and would make a story by it­self.
It was he who ran the great Tyr­olean Dairy Com­pany in Lon­don,
with no dair­ies, no cows, no carts, no milk, but with some thou­sand sub­scribers.
These he served by the simple op­er­a­tion of mov­ing the little milk cans out­side people’s doors to the doors of his own cus­tom­ers.
It was he who had kept up an un­ac­count­able and close cor­res­pond­ence with a young lady whose whole let­ter-bag was in­ter­cep­ted,
by the ex­traordin­ary trick of pho­to­graph­ing his mes­sages in­fin­ites­im­ally small upon the slides of a mi­cro­scope.
A sweep­ing sim­pli­city, however, marked many of his ex­per­i­ments.
It is said that he once re­painted all the num­bers in a street in the dead of night merely to di­vert one trav­el­ler into a trap.
It is quite cer­tain that he in­ven­ted a port­able pil­lar-box,
which he put up at corners in quiet sub­urbs on the chance of strangers drop­ping postal or­ders into it.
Lastly, he was known to be a start­ling ac­robat;
des­pite his huge fig­ure, he could leap like a grasshop­per and melt into the tree-tops like a mon­key.
Hence the great Valentin, when he set out to find Flam­beau, was per­fectly aware
that his ad­ven­tures would not end when he had found him.
But how was he to find him?
On this the great Valentin’s ideas were still in pro­cess of set­tle­ment.
There was one thing which Flam­beau, with all his dex­ter­ity of dis­guise, could not cov­er, and that was his sin­gu­lar height.
If Valentin’s quick eye had caught a tall apple-wo­man, a tall gren­adier,
or even a tol­er­ably tall duch­ess, he might have ar­res­ted them on the spot.
But all along his train there was nobody that could be a dis­guised Flam­beau, any more than a cat could be a dis­guised gir­affe.
About the people on the boat he had already sat­is­fied him­self;
and the people picked up at Har­wich or on the jour­ney lim­ited them­selves with cer­tainty to six.
There was a short rail­way of­fi­cial trav­el­ling up to the ter­minus,
three fairly short mar­ket garden­ers picked up two sta­tions af­ter­wards,
one very short wid­ow lady go­ing up from a small Es­sex town,
and a very short Ro­man Cath­ol­ic priest go­ing up from a small Es­sex vil­lage.
When it came to the last case, Valentin gave it up and al­most laughed.
The little priest was so much the es­sence of those East­ern flats; he had a face as round and dull as a Nor­folk dump­ling;
he had eyes as empty as the North Sea; he had sev­er­al brown pa­per par­cels, which he was quite in­cap­able of col­lect­ing.
The Euchar­ist­ic Con­gress had doubt­less sucked out of their loc­al stag­na­tion many such creatures, blind and help­less, like moles dis­in­terred.
Valentin was a scep­tic in the severe style of France, and could have no love for priests.
But he could have pity for them, and this one might have pro­voked pity in any­body.
He had a large, shabby um­brella, which con­stantly fell on the floor.
He did not seem to know which was the right end of his re­turn tick­et.
He ex­plained with a moon-calf sim­pli­city to every­body in the car­riage that he had to be care­ful,
be­cause he had something made of real sil­ver “with blue stones” in one of his brown-pa­per par­cels.
His quaint blend­ing of Es­sex flat­ness with saintly sim­pli­city con­tinu­ously amused the French­man
till the priest ar­rived (some­how) at Tot­ten­ham with all his par­cels, and came back for his um­brella.
When he did the last, Valentin even had the good nature to warn him not to take care of the sil­ver by telling every­body about it.
But to whomever he talked, Valentin kept his eye open for someone else;
he looked out stead­ily for any­one, rich or poor, male or fe­male,
who was well up to six feet; for Flam­beau was four inches above it.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton
The Innocence of Father Brown / Father Browns Einfalt
Zweisprachige Ausgabe
Übersetzt von Hedwig Maria von Lama

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