بخش 02

مجموعه: شرلوک هولمز / کتاب: آخرین معما / فصل 2

بخش 02

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PART TWO

A NARROW ESCAPE

Holmes moved around the room restlessly.

‘And what happened next?’ I asked.

‘Moriarty asked me if I would continue with my investigations. I told him he already knew the answer.

“Then you know mine,” he replied. He put his hand in his pocket. I placed my fingers on the gun on the table but instead of a gun he took out a notebook and read aloud: “On the 4th January you passed me in the street, on the 23rd of January you were in my way, in the middle of February you were causing me problems, by the end of March I had to change my plans… Now I find, a month later, that you are trying to take my freedom from me. We both know that this cannot continue.”

‘You’re right.’ I said. ‘It won’t continue. Give me three more days and it will end.

“You’re an interesting opponent, Holmes. I don’t know what I’d do without you. I’d be quite bored. You’re smiling but I’m telling you the truth. This little game you are playing is too dangerous,” he continued.

‘I’m not afraid of danger. It’s part of my profession,’ I replied.

“This is not danger!” he cried. “This is madness. There is a whole organisation behind me. Do you think you alone can stop it? There is only one end to this Holmes. We both know what it is.”

‘I enjoy your company,’ I replied, ‘but I have an important matter to investigate.’

“I know every move you make. If you try to destroy me, I will do the same to you,” he said.

‘You are too kind if you think I am capable of destroying you, but I will happily accept my own destruction if I can free the world of you, Moriarty.’

“Such a pity!” he said as he went out of the door, “but you leave me with no choice.”

‘Moriarty is a man of his word and he doesn’t waste time. On the way here I almost lost my life three times. First, a carriage with two horses came towards me at full speed. Fortunately, I jumped from the road just in time. Then, as I was walking around the corner, a stone fell from the top of the town hall; it missed me by the smallest amount. Finally, on the road to your house a man attacked me. I hit him hard and he fell over.’

I was amazed at the way my friend spoke of these events. He was lucky to be alive and yet he told his story so calmly.

‘You can understand now, Watson, why I shouldn’t leave by the front door,’ he continued.

‘Holmes, you can’t go home. You must stay here!’

Holmes would not listen. He left, as planned over the back wall, but only after we had made arrangements for the next day.

‘I’ll see you tomorrow morning,’ he said. ‘Take this note. Follow these instructions carefully. Do exactly what it says. Destroy it afterwards.’

‘Where will I meet you?’ I asked.

‘I’ll see you on the train. The third carriage from the front is reserved.’

The next day I followed Holmes’s instructions. I did not take the first cab that arrived outside my door, or the second, I took the third. I gave the cab driver an address to take my luggage to. I got out early, ten minutes away from the station. I ran around the corner where a horse and carriage was waiting. He didn’t ask for my destination; he took me directly to the station. When I arrived I was just in time for the express train that connects with the ferry to France. I ran as fast as I could and I saw a porter taking my luggage to a carriage. There was a reserved sign on the window and I got in. There was a man in the carriage but it wasn’t Holmes; it was a priest. I was confused. Holmes said the carriage was only reserved for us. I sat down and the train left the station.

Where was Holmes? After last night’s events I was very worried for my friend’s safety. Then the priest spoke.

‘It’s good manners to say “good morning,” Watson.’

Within moments, I realised that Holmes, disguised as a priest, was sitting before me in the carriage.

‘We must be careful. There’s Moriarty now!’ he added.

I looked out of the window and saw a man running towards the train, shouting angrily at the guard. I could see his large forehead and small dark eyes in the distance. Holmes smiled, sat down, and took out a newspaper.

‘Holmes, this can’t continue. Tell the police they have to arrest Moriarty! They can hold him until you have all the evidence they need.’

‘No,’ replied Holmes. ‘There are too many fish in this net and I intend to catch them all. Now, we must plan what to do next. Moriarty will soon catch the train.’

‘How?’ I asked. ‘This is the express train. There aren’t any faster trains.’

‘Think, Watson!’ sighed Holmes. ‘Moriarty is as intelligent as I am. Imagine I’m Moriarty! What would I do?’

‘You could hire a private train.’

‘Precisely.’

Fifty-five minutes later the train stopped at a station.

‘Quick!’ said Holmes. ‘We’re getting off here.’

‘What about our bags?’ I asked.

‘They’ll arrive in Paris, where one of Moriarty’s men will wait for us to come and collect them. We won’t be there, of course, because we’re getting a ferry to Belgium. We’ll buy new bags and new clothes on the way.’

We jumped off the train. Holmes pulled me to the ground and we hid behind some bags on the platform. I watched as the train left and our own luggage disappeared. At that same moment another train passed by on another platform, going at full speed. A man looked out of the window. We saw the face of Professor Moriarty.

‘We guessed his plan,’ said Holmes. ‘We’re lucky he didn’t guess mine.’

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