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"Do you know where we are?"
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The Adventure of the Empty House 3

"Do you know where we are?" he whispered.
"Surely that is Baker Street," I answered, staring through the dim window.
"Exactly. We are in Camden House, which stands opposite to our own old quarters."
"But why are we here?"
"Because we would like to look up at our old rooms. We will see if anything has changed during my three years of absence?"

I crept forward and looked across at the familiar window. As my eyes fell upon it, I gave a cry of surprise. There was a sitting man in a chair there.

"Good heavens!" I cried. "It is wonderful."
"It really is rather like me, is it not?"
"I should be prepared to swear that it was you."
"It is a bust in wax and it has been made by a French artist who was working at it several days. The rest I arranged myself during my visit to Baker Street this afternoon."
"But why?"
"Because, I wanted certain people to think that I was there when I was really elsewhere."
"And you thought the rooms were watched?"
"I knew that they were watched."
"By whom?"
"By my old enemies, Watson. You must remember that they knew, and only they knew, that I was still alive. Sooner or later they believed that I should come back to my rooms. They watched them continuously, and this morning they saw me arrive."
"How do you know?"
"Because I recognized their sentinel when I glanced out of my window.

My friend's plans were clear to me at last. We stood silently in the darkness and watched the hurrying figures that passed in front of us. Holmes was silent and motionless; but I could tell that he was keenly alert, and that his eyes were fixed intently upon the stream of passers-by. Many people were moving to and fro. Once or twice it seemed to me that I had seen the same figure before, and I especially noticed two men who appeared to be sheltering themselves from the wind in the doorway of a house some distance up the street. I was about to make some remark to my friend, when I raised my eyes to the lighted window, and to my great surprise I saw the wax figure that was different. It was indeed no longer the profile, but the back, which was turned towards us.

"It has moved" I cried.

"Of course it has moved," said Holmes. "We have been in this room two hours, and Mrs. Hudson has made some change in that figure eight times, or once in every quarter of an hour. She works it from the front, so that her shadow may never be seen. Ah!"

But suddenly I heard a sound came to my ears, not from the direction of Baker Street, but from the back of the very house in which we were hidden. A door opened and shut. Holmes crouched back against the wall, and I did the same, my hand closing upon the handle of my revolver. I saw the vague outline of a man. He stood for and I realized that he had no idea of our presence. The man seemed to be beside himself with excitement. He was an elderly man. In his hand he carried something what appeared to be a stick, but as he laid it down upon the floor it gave a metallic clang. I saw it was a sort of gun. He opened the window and the light of the street fell on his face. Then he took something from the pocket of his overcoat and put in into the gun. For an instant he was rigid and motionless. Then his finger tightened on the trigger. There was a strange, loud whiz and a long, silvery tinkle of broken glass. At that instant Holmes sprang like a tiger on to the man's back, and knocked him down. He was up again in a moment, and with convulsive strength he seized Holmes by the throat, but I struck him on the head with the butt of my revolver, and he dropped again upon the floor. I fell upon him, and as I held him my comrade blew on a whistle. Two policemen in uniform, with one detective, rushed through the front door into the room.

" Is that you, Lestrade?" said Holmes.
"Yes, Mr. Holmes. It's good to see you back in London, sir."
"I think you want a little unofficial help. Three undetected murders in one year won't do, Lestrade."

. . .

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rubriku vede: PhDr.Tomášek Pavel CSc.