Arthur Conan

Doyle

His Last Bow

Der letzte Streich von Sherlock Holmes

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

TITELBLATT

THE ADVENTURE OF WISTERIA LODGE

THE ADVENTURE OF THE CARDBOARD BOX

THE ADVENTURE OF THE RED CIRCLE

THE ADVENTURE OF THE BRUCE-PARTINGTON PLANS

THE ADVENTURE OF THE DYING DETECTIVE

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF LADY FRANCES CARFAX

THE ADVENTURE OF THE DEVIL’S FOOT

HIS LAST BOW

IMPRESSUM

THE ADVENTURE OF WISTERIA LODGE

I. The Singular Experience of Mr. John Scott Eccles

I find it re­cor­ded in my note­book that it was a bleak and windy day to­wards the end of March in the year 1892.
Holmes had re­ceived a tele­gram while we sat at our lunch, and he had scribbled a reply.
He made no re­mark, but the mat­ter re­mained in his thoughts, for he stood in front of the fire af­ter­wards
with a thought­ful face, smoking his pipe, and cast­ing an oc­ca­sion­al glance at the mes­sage.
Sud­denly he turned upon me with a mis­chiev­ous twinkle in his eyes.
“I sup­pose, Wat­son, we must look upon you as a man of let­ters,” said he. “How do you define the word ‘grot­esque’?”
“Strange — re­mark­able,” I sug­ges­ted.
He shook his head at my defin­i­tion.
“There is surely something more than that,” said he; “some un­der­ly­ing sug­ges­tion of the tra­gic and the ter­rible.
If you cast your mind back to some of those nar­rat­ives with which you have af­flic­ted a long-suf­fer­ing pub­lic,
you will re­cog­nize how of­ten the grot­esque has deepened into the crim­in­al.
Think of that little af­fair of the red-headed men.
That was grot­esque enough in the out­set, and yet it ended in a des­per­ate at­tempt at rob­bery.
Or, again, there was that most grot­esque af­fair of the five or­ange pips,
which led straight to a mur­der­ous con­spir­acy. The word puts me on the alert.”
“Have you it there?” I asked.
He read the tele­gram aloud.
Have just had most in­cred­ible and grot­esque ex­per­i­ence. May I con­sult you? — Scott Ec­cles, Post Of­fice, Char­ing Cross.
“Man or wo­man?” I asked.
“Oh, man, of course. No wo­man would ever send a reply-paid tele­gram. She would have come.”
“Will you see him?”
“My dear Wat­son, you know how bored I have been since we locked up Col­on­el Car­ruth­ers.
My mind is like a ra­cing en­gine, tear­ing it­self to pieces be­cause it is not con­nec­ted up with the work for which it was built.
Life is com­mon­place, the pa­pers are sterile; au­da­city and ro­mance seem to have passed forever from the crim­in­al world.
Can you ask me, then, wheth­er I am ready to look into any new prob­lem, however trivi­al it may prove?
But here, un­less I am mis­taken, is our cli­ent.”
A meas­ured step was heard upon the stairs, and a mo­ment later a stout,
tall, grey-whiskered and sol­emnly re­spect­able per­son was ushered into the room.
His life his­tory was writ­ten in his heavy fea­tures and pom­pous man­ner.
From his spats to his gold-rimmed spec­tacles he was a Con­ser­vat­ive, a Church­man, a good cit­izen, or­tho­dox and con­ven­tion­al to the last de­gree.
But some amaz­ing ex­per­i­ence had dis­turbed his nat­ive com­pos­ure
and left its traces in his brist­ling hair, his flushed, angry cheeks, and his flur­ried, ex­cited man­ner. He plunged in­stantly into his busi­ness.
“I have had a most sin­gu­lar and un­pleas­ant ex­per­i­ence, Mr. Holmes,” said he. “Nev­er in my life have I been placed in such a situ­ation.
It is most im­prop­er — most out­rageous. I must in­sist upon some ex­plan­a­tion.” He swelled and puffed in his an­ger.
“Pray sit down, Mr. Scott Ec­cles,” said Holmes, in a sooth­ing voice. “May I ask, in the first place, why you came to me at all?”
“Well, sir, it did not ap­pear to be a mat­ter which con­cerned the po­lice, and yet,
when you have heard the facts, you must ad­mit that I could not leave it where it was.
Private de­tect­ives are a class with whom I have ab­so­lutely no sym­pathy, but none the less, hav­ing heard your name —”
“Quite so. But, in the second place, why did you not come at once?”
“What do you mean?”
Holmes glanced at his watch.
“It is a quarter-past two,” he said. “Your tele­gram was dis­patched about one.
But no one can glance at your toi­let and at­tire without see­ing that your dis­turb­ance dates from the mo­ment of your wak­ing.”
Our cli­ent smoothed down his un­brushed hair and felt his un­shaven chin.
“You are right, Mr. Holmes. I nev­er gave a thought to my toi­let.
I was only too glad to get out of such a house. But I have been run­ning round mak­ing in­quir­ies be­fore I came to you.
I went to the house agents, you know, and they said
that Mr. Gar­cia’s rent was paid up all right and that everything was in or­der at Wis­teria Lodge.”
“Come, come, sir,” said Holmes, laugh­ing. “You are like my friend, Dr. Wat­son,
who has a bad habit of telling his stor­ies wrong end fore­most.
Please ar­range your thoughts and let me know, in their due se­quence, ex­actly what those events are which have sent you out un­brushed and un­kempt,
with dress boots and waist­coat buttoned awry, in search of ad­vice and as­sist­ance.”
Our cli­ent looked down with a rue­ful face at his own un­con­ven­tion­al ap­pear­ance.
“I’m sure it must look very bad, Mr. Holmes, and I am not aware that in my whole life such a thing has ever happened be­fore.
But will tell you the whole queer busi­ness, and when I have done so you will ad­mit,
I am sure, that there has been enough to ex­cuse me.”
But his nar­rat­ive was nipped in the bud. There was a bustle out­side,
and Mrs. Hud­son opened the door to ush­er in two ro­bust and of­fi­cial-look­ing in­di­vidu­als,
one of whom was well known to us as In­spect­or Greg­son of Scot­land Yard, an en­er­get­ic, gal­lant, and, with­in his lim­it­a­tions, a cap­able of­ficer.
He shook hands with Holmes and in­tro­duced his com­rade as In­spect­or Baynes, of the Sur­rey Con­stabu­lary.
“We are hunt­ing to­geth­er, Mr. Holmes, and our trail lay in this dir­ec­tion.”
He turned his bull­dog eyes upon our vis­it­or. “Are you Mr. John Scott Ec­cles, of Popham House, Lee?”
“I am.”
“We have been fol­low­ing you about all the morn­ing.”
“You traced him through the tele­gram, no doubt,” said Holmes.
“Ex­actly, Mr. Holmes. We picked up the scent at Char­ing Cross Post Of­fice and came on here.”
“But why do you fol­low me? What do you want?”
“We wish a state­ment, Mr. Scott Ec­cles, as to the events which led up to the death last night of Mr. Aloysi­us Gar­cia, of Wis­teria Lodge, near Esh­er.”
Our cli­ent had sat up with star­ing eyes and every tinge of col­our struck from his as­ton­ished face.
“Dead? Did you say he was dead?”
“Yes, sir, he is dead.”
“But how? An ac­ci­dent?”
“Murder, if ever there was one upon earth.”
“Good God! This is aw­ful! You don’t mean — you don’t mean that I am sus­pec­ted?”
“A let­ter of yours was found in the dead man’s pock­et, and we know by it
that you had planned to pass last night at his house.”
“So I did.”
“Oh, you did, did you?”
Out came the of­fi­cial note­book.
“Wait a bit, Greg­son,” said Sher­lock Holmes. “All you de­sire is a plain state­ment, is it not?”
“And it is my duty to warn Mr. Scott Ec­cles that it may be used against him.”
“Mr. Ec­cles was go­ing to tell us about it when you entered the room. I think, Wat­son, a brandy and soda would do him no harm.
Now, sir, I sug­gest that you take no no­tice of this ad­di­tion to your audi­ence, and that you pro­ceed with your nar­rat­ive ex­actly as you would have done had you nev­er been in­ter­rup­ted.”
Our vis­it­or had gulped off the brandy and the col­our had re­turned to his face.
With a du­bi­ous glance at the in­spect­or’s note­book, he plunged at once into his ex­traordin­ary state­ment.
“I am a bach­el­or,” said he, “and, be­ing of a so­ci­able turn, I cul­tiv­ate a large num­ber of friends.
Among these are the fam­ily of a re­tired brew­er called Melville, liv­ing at Aber­marle Man­sion, Kens­ing­ton.
It was at his table that I met some weeks ago a young fel­low named Gar­cia.
He was, I un­der­stood, of Span­ish des­cent and con­nec­ted in some way with the em­bassy.
He spoke per­fect Eng­lish, was pleas­ing in his man­ners, and as good-look­ing a man as ever I saw in my life.
“In some way we struck up quite a friend­ship, this young fel­low and I.
He seemed to take a fancy to me from the first, and with­in two days of our meet­ing he came to see me at Lee.
One thing led to an­oth­er, and it ended in his in­vit­ing me out to spend a few days at his house,
Wis­teria Lodge, between Esh­er and Ox­shott. Yes­ter­day even­ing I went to Esh­er to ful­fil this en­gage­ment.
“He had de­scribed his house­hold to me be­fore I went there.
He lived with a faith­ful ser­vant, a coun­try­man of his own, who looked after all his needs.
This fel­low could speak Eng­lish and did his house­keep­ing for him.
Then there was a won­der­ful cook, he said, a half-breed whom he had picked up in his travels, who could serve an ex­cel­lent din­ner.
I re­mem­ber that he re­marked what a queer house­hold it was to find in the heart of Sur­rey,
and that I agreed with him, though it has proved a good deal queer­er than I thought.
“I drove to the place — about two miles on the south side of Esh­er.
The house was a fair-sized one, stand­ing back from the road, with a curving drive which was banked with high ever­green shrubs.
It was an old, tumble-down build­ing in a crazy state of dis­repair.
When the trap pulled up on the grass-grown drive in front of the blotched and weath­er-stained door, I had doubts as to my wis­dom in vis­it­ing a man whom I knew so slightly.
He opened the door him­self, however, and greeted me with a great show of cor­di­al­ity.
I was handed over to the manser­vant, a mel­an­choly, swarthy in­di­vidu­al, who led the way, my bag in his hand, to my bed­room.
The whole place was de­press­ing. Our din­ner was tête-à-tête, and though my host did his best to be en­ter­tain­ing,
his thoughts seemed to con­tinu­ally wander, and he talked so vaguely and wildly that I could hardly un­der­stand him.
He con­tinu­ally drummed his fin­gers on the table, gnawed his nails, and gave oth­er signs of nervous im­pa­tience.
The din­ner it­self was neither well served nor well cooked, and the gloomy pres­ence of the ta­cit­urn ser­vant did not help to en­liven us.
I can as­sure you that many times in the course of the even­ing I wished that I could in­vent some ex­cuse which would take me back to Lee.
“One thing comes back to my memory which may have a bear­ing upon the busi­ness that you two gen­tle­men are in­vest­ig­at­ing.
I thought noth­ing of it at the time. Near the end of din­ner a note was handed in by the ser­vant.
I no­ticed that after my host had read it he seemed even more dis­trait and strange than be­fore.
He gave up all pre­tence at con­ver­sa­tion and sat, smoking end­less ci­gar­ettes,
lost in his own thoughts, but he made no re­mark as to the con­tents.
About el­ev­en I was glad to go to bed. Some time later Gar­cia looked in at my door — the room was dark at the time — and asked me if I had rung.
I said that I had not. He apo­lo­gized for hav­ing dis­turbed me so late, say­ing that it was nearly one o’clock.
I dropped off after this and slept soundly all night.
“And now I come to the amaz­ing part of my tale. When I woke it was broad day­light. I glanced at my watch, and the time was nearly nine.
I had par­tic­u­larly asked to be called at eight, so I was very much as­ton­ished at this for­get­ful­ness.
I sprang up and rang for the ser­vant. There was no re­sponse.
I rang again and again, with the same res­ult. Then I came to the con­clu­sion that the bell was out of or­der.
I huddled on my clothes and hur­ried down­stairs in an ex­ceed­ingly bad tem­per to or­der some hot wa­ter.
You can ima­gine my sur­prise when I found that there was no one there.
I shouted in the hall. There was no an­swer. Then I ran from room to room. All were deser­ted.
My host had shown me which was his bed­room the night be­fore, so I knocked at the door. No reply.
I turned the handle and walked in. The room was empty, and the bed had nev­er been slept in. He had gone with the rest.
The for­eign host, the for­eign foot­man, the for­eign cook, all had van­ished in the night! That was the end of my vis­it to Wis­teria Lodge.”

Arthur Conan Doyle
His Last Bow / Der letzte Streich 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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