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"Holmes!" I cried. "Is it really you?"
"My dear Watson," said the well-remembered voice, "I sorry. I had no idea that you would be so affected."
"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 able to discuss things? I have given you a serious shock.
"I am all right, but indeed, Holmes, but I can hardly believe my eyes. Sit down, and tell me how you came alive out of that dreadful affair."
He sat opposite to me, and lit a cigarette. He was dressed in the seedy frockcoat of the book merchant, but the rest of that individual lay in a pile of white hair and old books upon the table. Holmes looked even thinner and keener than of old, but there was something in his face which told me that his life recently had not been a healthy one.
"I am glad to stretch myself, Watson," said he. "It is no joke when a tall man has to take a foot off his stature for several hours on end. Now, my dear fellow, in the matter of these explanations, we have, if I may ask for your cooperation, a hard and dangerous night's work in front of us. Perhaps it would be better if I gave you an account of the whole situation when that work is finished."
"I am full of curiosity. I should much prefer to hear now."
"This is, indeed, like the old days. We shall have time for a mouthful of dinner before we need go. Well, then, about that abyss. I had no serious difficulty in getting out of it, for the very simple reason that I never was in it." "You never were in it?"
"No, Watson, I never was in it. What I wrote to you was absolutely true genuine. I had to fight with that criminal. He was very strong but I knew baritsu, the Japanese system of fighting and I was lucky enough to win. I saw him fall into the water."
I listened with surprise to this explanation.
"It came about in this way. I knew that he was not the only man who had sworn my death. There were at least three others. They were all most dangerous men. One or other would certainly get me. On the other hand, if all the world was convinced that I was dead they would feel safe, and sooner or later I could destroy them".
"I did not take long to think about it, Watson. But I had no time to think of the danger. I took to my heels, did ten miles over the mountains in the darkness, and a week later I found myself in Florence, with the certainty that no one in the world knew what had become of me".
"I had only one confidant -- my brother Mycroft. I owe you many apologies, my dear Watson, but it was all-important that it should be thought I was dead, and it is quite certain that you would not have written so convincing an account of my unhappy end had you not yourself thought that it was true. I traveled for two years in Tibet, therefore, and amused myself by visiting Lhassa, and spending some days with the head lama. You may have read of the remarkable explorations of a Norwegian named Sigerson, but I am sure that it never occurred to you that you were receiving news of your friend. I then passed through Persia, looked in at Mecca, and paid a short but interesting visit to the Khalifa. Than I went to France, I learned that only one of my enemies was now left in London, I was about to return when my movements were hastened by the news of this very remarkable Park Lane Mystery. I decided to came at once to London".
Such was the remarkable narrative to which I listened on that April evening -- a narrative which would have been utterly incredible to me had it not been confirmed by the actual sight of the tall, spare figure and the keen, eager face, which I had never thought to see again. "Work is the best antidote to sorrow, my dear Watson," Than he said to me "and I have a piece of work for us both to-night." In vain I begged him to tell me more.
It was indeed like old times when, at that hour, I found myself seated beside him in a cab, my revolver in my pocket, and the thrill of adventure in my heart. Holmes was cold and silent. Holmes stopped the cab at the corner of Cavendish Square. I observed that as he stepped out he gave a most searching glance to right and left, he took the utmost pains to assure that he was not followed. Our route was certainly a singular one. Holmes's knowledge of the byways of London was extraordinary, and on this occasion he passed rapidly and with an assured step through a network of mews and stables, the very existence of which I had never known. We emerged at last into a small road, lined with old, gloomy houses. Which led us into Manchester Street, and so to Blandford Street. Here he turned swiftly down a narrow passage, passed through a wooden gate into a deserted yard, and then opened with a key the back door of a house. We entered together, and he closed it behind us. The place was pitching dark, but it was evident to me that it was an empty house. My companion put his hand upon my shoulder and his lips close to my ear.
. . .
rubriku vede: PhDr.Tomášek Pavel CSc.