Arthur Conan


The Return of Sherlock Holmes

Die Wiederkehr von Sherlock Holmes

Übersetzt von Alice und Karl Heinz Berger, Lizenz der Aufbau Verlagsgruppe
Synchronisation und Ergänzungen © Doppeltext 2012

















It was in the spring of the year 1894 that all Lon­don was in­ter­ested, and the fash­ion­able world dis­mayed,
by the murder of the Hon­our­able Ron­ald Adair un­der most un­usu­al and in­ex­plic­able cir­cum­stances.
The pub­lic has already learned those par­tic­u­lars of the crime which came out in the po­lice in­vest­ig­a­tion,
but a good deal was sup­pressed upon that oc­ca­sion, since the case for the pro­sec­u­tion was so over­whelm­ingly strong
that it was not ne­ces­sary to bring for­ward all the facts.
Only now, at the end of nearly ten years, am I al­lowed to sup­ply those miss­ing links which make up the whole of that re­mark­able chain.
The crime was of in­terest in it­self, but that in­terest was as noth­ing to me com­pared to the in­con­ceiv­able se­quel,
which af­forded me the greatest shock and sur­prise of any event in my ad­ven­tur­ous life.
Even now, after this long in­ter­val, I find my­self thrill­ing as I think of it,
and feel­ing once more that sud­den flood of joy, amazement, and in­credu­lity which ut­terly sub­merged my mind.
Let me say to that pub­lic, which has shown some in­terest in those glimpses which I have oc­ca­sion­ally giv­en them of the thoughts and ac­tions of a very re­mark­able man,
that they are not to blame me if I have not shared my know­ledge with them,
for I should have con­sidered it my first duty to do so,
had I not been barred by a pos­it­ive pro­hib­i­tion from his own lips, which was only with­drawn upon the third of last month.
It can be ima­gined that my close in­tim­acy with Sher­lock Holmes had in­ter­ested me deeply in crime,
and that after his dis­ap­pear­ance I nev­er failed to read with care the vari­ous prob­lems which came be­fore the pub­lic.
And I even at­temp­ted, more than once, for my own private sat­is­fac­tion, to em­ploy his meth­ods in their solu­tion, though with in­dif­fer­ent suc­cess.
There was none, however, which ap­pealed to me like this tragedy of Ron­ald Adair.
As I read the evid­ence at the in­quest, which led up to a ver­dict of will­ful murder against some per­son or per­sons un­known,
I real­ized more clearly than I had ever done the loss which the com­munity had sus­tained by the death of Sher­lock Holmes.
There were points about this strange busi­ness which would, I was sure, have spe­cially ap­pealed to him,
and the ef­forts of the po­lice would have been sup­ple­men­ted, or more prob­ably an­ti­cip­ated, by the trained ob­ser­va­tion and the alert mind of the first crim­in­al agent in Europe.
All day, as I drove upon my round, I turned over the case in my mind and found no ex­plan­a­tion which ap­peared to me to be ad­equate.
At the risk of telling a twice-told tale, I will re­capit­u­late the facts as they were known to the pub­lic at the con­clu­sion of the in­quest.
The Hon­our­able Ron­ald Adair was the second son of the Earl of Maynooth, at that time gov­ernor of one of the Aus­trali­an colon­ies.
Adair’s moth­er had re­turned from Aus­tralia to un­der­go the op­er­a­tion for catar­act, and she,
her son Ron­ald, and her daugh­ter Hilda were liv­ing to­geth­er at 427 Park Lane.
The youth moved in the best so­ci­ety — had, so far as was known, no en­emies and no par­tic­u­lar vices.
He had been en­gaged to Miss Edith Wood­ley, of Carstairs,
but the en­gage­ment had been broken off by mu­tu­al con­sent some months be­fore,
and there was no sign that it had left any very pro­found feel­ing be­hind it.
For the rest the man’s life moved in a nar­row and con­ven­tion­al circle, for his habits were quiet and his nature un­emo­tion­al.
Yet it was upon this easy-go­ing young ar­is­to­crat that death came, in most strange and un­ex­pec­ted form, between the hours of ten and el­ev­en-twenty on the night of March 30, 1894.
Ron­ald Adair was fond of cards — play­ing con­tinu­ally, but nev­er for such stakes as would hurt him.
He was a mem­ber of the Bald­win, the Cav­endish, and the Baga­telle card clubs.
It was shown that, after din­ner on the day of his death, he had played a rub­ber of whist at the lat­ter club.
He had also played there in the af­ter­noon.
The evid­ence of those who had played with him — Mr. Mur­ray, Sir John Hardy, and Col­on­el Mor­an — showed
that the game was whist, and that there was a fairly equal fall of the cards.
Adair might have lost five pounds, but not more. His for­tune was a con­sid­er­able one, and such a loss could not in any way af­fect him.
He had played nearly every day at one club or oth­er, but he was a cau­tious play­er, and usu­ally rose a win­ner.
It came out in evid­ence that, in part­ner­ship with Col­on­el Mor­an, he had ac­tu­ally won as much as four hun­dred and twenty pounds in a sit­ting, some weeks be­fore, from God­frey Mil­ner and Lord Bal­mor­al.
So much for his re­cent his­tory as it came out at the in­quest.
On the even­ing of the crime, he re­turned from the club ex­actly at ten.
His moth­er and sis­ter were out spend­ing the even­ing with a re­la­tion.
The ser­vant de­posed that she heard him enter the front room on the second floor, gen­er­ally used as his sit­ting-room.
She had lit a fire there, and as it smoked she had opened the win­dow.
No sound was heard from the room un­til el­ev­en-twenty, the hour of the re­turn of Lady Maynooth and her daugh­ter.
De­sir­ing to say good-night, she at­temp­ted to enter her son’s room.
The door was locked on the in­side, and no an­swer could be got to their cries and knock­ing.
Help was ob­tained, and the door forced. The un­for­tu­nate young man was found ly­ing near the table.
His head had been hor­ribly mu­til­ated by an ex­pand­ing re­volver bul­let, but no weapon of any sort was to be found in the room.
On the table lay two bank­notes for ten pounds each and sev­en­teen pounds ten in sil­ver and gold,
the money ar­ranged in little piles of vary­ing amount.
There were some fig­ures also upon a sheet of pa­per, with the names of some club friends op­pos­ite to them,
from which it was con­jec­tured that be­fore his death he was en­deav­our­ing to make out his losses or win­nings at cards.
A minute ex­am­in­a­tion of the cir­cum­stances served only to make the case more com­plex.
In the first place, no reas­on could be giv­en why the young man should have fastened the door upon the in­side.
There was the pos­sib­il­ity that the mur­der­er had done this, and had af­ter­wards es­caped by the win­dow.
The drop was at least twenty feet, however, and a bed of cro­cuses in full bloom lay be­neath.
Neither the flowers nor the earth showed any sign of hav­ing been dis­turbed,
nor were there any marks upon the nar­row strip of grass which sep­ar­ated the house from the road.
Ap­par­ently, there­fore, it was the young man him­self who had fastened the door.
But how did he come by his death? No one could have climbed up to the win­dow without leav­ing traces.
Sup­pose a man had fired through the win­dow, he would in­deed be a re­mark­able shot
who could with a re­volver in­flict so deadly a wound.
Again, Park Lane is a fre­quen­ted thor­ough­fare; there is a cab stand with­in a hun­dred yards of the house. No one had heard a shot.
And yet there was the dead man and there the re­volver bul­let, which had mush­roomed out, as soft-nosed bul­lets will,
and so in­flic­ted a wound which must have caused in­stant­an­eous death.
Such were the cir­cum­stances of the Park Lane Mys­tery, which were fur­ther com­plic­ated by en­tire ab­sence of motive,
since, as I have said, young Adair was not known to have any en­emy,
and no at­tempt had been made to re­move the money or valu­ables in the room.
All day I turned these facts over in my mind, en­deav­our­ing to hit upon some the­ory
which could re­con­cile them all, and to find that line of least res­ist­ance
which my poor friend had de­clared to be the start­ing-point of every in­vest­ig­a­tion.
I con­fess that I made little pro­gress. In the even­ing I strolled across the Park, and found my­self about six o’clock at the Ox­ford Street end of Park Lane.
A group of loafers upon the pave­ments, all star­ing up at a par­tic­u­lar win­dow, dir­ec­ted me to the house which I had come to see.
A tall, thin man with col­oured glasses, whom I strongly sus­pec­ted of be­ing a plain-clothes de­tect­ive,
was point­ing out some the­ory of his own, while the oth­ers crowded round to listen to what he said.
I got as near him as I could, but his ob­ser­va­tions seemed to me to be ab­surd, so I with­drew again in some dis­gust.
As I did so I struck against an eld­erly, de­formed man, who had been be­hind me, and I knocked down sev­er­al books which he was car­ry­ing.
I re­mem­ber that as I picked them up, I ob­served the title of one of them, The Ori­gin of Tree Wor­ship,
and it struck me that the fel­low must be some poor bib­li­o­phile,
who, either as a trade or as a hobby, was a col­lect­or of ob­scure volumes.
I en­deav­oured to apo­lo­gize for the ac­ci­dent, but it was evid­ent that these books
which I had so un­for­tu­nately mal­treated were very pre­cious ob­jects in the eyes of their own­er.
With a snarl of con­tempt he turned upon his heel, and I saw his curved back and white side-whiskers dis­ap­pear among the throng.
My ob­ser­va­tions of No. 427 Park Lane did little to clear up the prob­lem in which I was in­ter­ested.
The house was sep­ar­ated from the street by a low wall and rail­ing, the whole not more than five feet high.
It was per­fectly easy, there­fore, for any­one to get into the garden,
but the win­dow was en­tirely in­ac­cess­ible, since there was no wa­ter­pipe or any­thing which could help the most act­ive man to climb it.
More puzzled than ever, I re­traced my steps to Kens­ing­ton.
I had not been in my study five minutes when the maid entered to say that a per­son de­sired to see me.
To my as­ton­ish­ment it was none oth­er than my strange old book col­lect­or,
his sharp, wizened face peer­ing out from a frame of white hair, and his pre­cious volumes, a dozen of them at least, wedged un­der his right arm.
“You’re sur­prised to see me, sir,” said he, in a strange, croak­ing voice.
I ac­know­ledged that I was.
“Well, I’ve a con­science, sir, and when I chanced to see you go into this house, as I came hob­bling after you,
I thought to my­self, I’ll just step in and see that kind gen­tle­man, and tell him that if I was a bit gruff in my man­ner there was not any harm meant,
and that I am much ob­liged to him for pick­ing up my books.”
“You make too much of a trifle,” said I. “May I ask how you knew who I was?”
“Well, sir, if it isn’t too great a liberty, I am a neigh­bour of yours,
for you’ll find my little book­shop at the corner of Church Street, and very happy to see you, I am sure.
Maybe you col­lect your­self, sir. Here’s Brit­ish Birds, and Catul­lus, and The Holy War — a bar­gain, every one of them.
With five volumes you could just fill that gap on that second shelf. It looks un­tidy, does it not, sir?”
I moved my head to look at the cab­in­et be­hind me.
When I turned again, Sher­lock Holmes was stand­ing smil­ing at me across my study table.
I rose to my feet, stared at him for some seconds in ut­ter amazement, and then it ap­pears that I must have fain­ted for the first and the last time in my life.
Cer­tainly a gray mist swirled be­fore my eyes, and when it cleared I found my col­lar-ends un­done
and the tingling after-taste of brandy upon my lips.
Holmes was bend­ing over my chair, his flask in his hand.
“My dear Wat­son,” said the well-re­membered voice, “I owe you a thou­sand apo­lo­gies.
I had no idea that you would be so af­fected.”
I gripped him by the arms.
“Holmes!” I cried. “Is it really you? Can it in­deed be that you are alive? Is it pos­sible that you suc­ceeded in climb­ing out of that aw­ful abyss?”
“Wait a mo­ment,” said he. “Are you sure that you are really fit to dis­cuss things?
I have giv­en you a ser­i­ous shock by my un­ne­ces­sar­ily dra­mat­ic re­appear­ance.”
“I am all right, but in­deed, Holmes, I can hardly be­lieve my eyes.
Good heav­ens! to think that you — you of all men — should be stand­ing in my study.”
Again I gripped him by the sleeve, and felt the thin, sinewy arm be­neath it.
“Well, you’re not a spir­it any­how,” said I. “My dear chap, I’m over­joyed to see you.
Sit down, and tell me how you came alive out of that dread­ful chasm.”

Arthur Conan Doyle
The Return of Sherlock Holmes / Die Wiederkehr von Sherlock Holmes
Zweisprachige Ausgabe
Übersetzt von Alice und Karl Heinz Berger

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Die Übersetzung erschien erstmals 1984 in Sämtliche Sherlock-Holmes-Erzählungen im Gustav Kiepenheuer Verlag, Leipzig. Gustav Kiepenheuer ist eine Marke der Aufbau Verlag GmbH & Co. KG.
Übersetzung © Aufbau Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin 1984, 2008.

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