With a heavy heart, I proceed to the last lines of these memories, telling of the extraordinary talents of my friend Sherlock Holmes. In an incoherent and – I feel it myself – in an entirely inappropriate manner, I tried to tell about the amazing adventures that I had to experience side by side with him, starting with the incident that I called in my notes “Etude in crimson tones” and up before the story with the “Maritime Treaty”, when my friend’s intervention, certainly, prevented serious international complications. To admit, I wanted to put a point here and keep silent about the event that left such emptiness in my life that even a two-year span was powerless to fill it. However, the recently published letters of Colonel James Moriarty, in which he defends the memory of his late brother, forcing me to take up my pen, and now I consider it my duty to open people’s eyes to what happened. After all, I know the whole truth, and I’m glad that the time has come when there is no reason to hide it.
As far as I know, there were only three reports in the newspapers: a note in the Journal de Geneve from May 6, 1891, a telegram from Reuters in the English press on May 7, and finally, the recent letters mentioned above. Of these letters, the first and second are extremely shortened, and the latter, as I shall now prove, completely distorts the facts. My responsibility is to finally tell the world what really happened between
The reader, perhaps, remembers that after my marriage, the close friendship that bound me and Holmes acquired a somewhat different character. I started private medical practice. He kept coming to me from time to time when he needed a satellite for his investigations, but this happened less and less, and in 1890 there were only three cases about which I had some records.
In the winter of this year and in the early spring of 1891, the newspapers wrote that Holmes had been invited by the French government on an extremely important matter, and from the two letters he had received from Narbonne and Nyima, I concluded that, apparently, his stay in France will take a long time. Therefore, I was somewhat surprised when on the evening of April 24 he suddenly appeared in my office. It immediately struck me that he was even more pale and thin than usual.
“Yes, I exhausted my strength,” he said, responding rather to my opinion than to words. “Lately, I’ve had a hard time… What if I shut the shutters?”
The room was lit only by the table lamp, which I used to read. Carefully moving along the wall, Holmes went around the whole room, slamming shutters and carefully closing them with bolts.
“Are you afraid of anything?” I asked.
“My dear Holmes, what do you mean by that?”
“It seems to me, Watson, you know me well enough, and you know that I’m not a timid ten.” However, not taking into account the danger that threatens you is more of a stupidity than bravery. Please give me a match.
He lit a cigarette, and it seemed that the tobacco smoke had a beneficial effect on him.
“First, I must apologize for my late visit,
– he said. “And besides, I’ll have to ask you to allow me to commit a second rude act – climb over the back wall of your garden, for I intend to leave from you in this way.”
“But what does all this mean?” I asked.
He put his hand closer to the lamp, and I saw that the joints of his two fingers were wounded and covered in blood.
“As you can see, it’s not all nonsense,” he said with a smile. – Perhaps, this way you can lose the whole hand. And where is Mrs. Watson? At home?
– No, she went to visit her friends.
– Aha! So, you’re alone?
“If so, it will be easier for me to suggest that you go with me for a week to the continent.”
– Anywhere. I do not care.
All this seemed to me as strange as possible. Holmes did not ordinarily spend time idly spending time, and something in his pale, worn out face spoke of the nervous tension that had come to an end. He saw the bewilderment in my gaze and, leaning his elbows on his knees and closing his fingertips, began to explain to me the state of affairs.
“You, I think, have not heard anything about Professor Moriarty?”
– Brilliant and incomprehensible. The man entangled his networks all over London, and no one even heard of him. This is what raises him to an unattainable height in the criminal world. I assure you, Watson, that if I could defeat this man, if I could rid his society of him, it would be the crowning of my activity, I would consider my career finished and ready to move on to a quieter occupation. Between us, Watson, thanks to the last two cases that allowed me to provide some services to the royal house of Scandinavia and the Republic of France, I have the opportunity to lead a way of life more suited to my inclinations, and seriously tackle chemistry. But I still can not sit still in my chair until a man like Professor Moriarty walks the streets of London freely.
“What did he do?”
“Oh, he has an unusual biography!” He comes from a good family, got a brilliant education and is naturally endowed with phenomenal mathematical abilities. When he was twenty-one, he wrote a treatise on Newton’s binomial, which won him European fame. After that, he received the chair of mathematics in one of our provincial universities, and, in all likelihood, a brilliant future awaited him. But in his veins the blood of a criminal flows. He has a hereditary penchant for cruelty. And his extraordinary mind not only does not moderate, but even strengthens this inclination and makes it even more dangerous. Dark rumors spread about him on the campus where he taught, and in the end he was forced to leave the pulpit and move to London, where he began to prepare young people for the exam for officers’ rank… Here,