字体设置:

 

The police trial had passed, in which the case of John Douglas was referred to a higher court. So had the Quarter Sessions, at which he was acquitted as having acted in self-defense.

"Get him out of England at any cost," wrote Holmes to the wife. "There are forces here which may be more dangerous than those he has escaped. There is no safety for your husband in England."

Two months had gone by, and the case had to some extent passed from our minds. Then one morning there came an enigmatic note slipped into our letter box. "Dear me, Mr. Holmes. Dear me!" said this singular epistle. There was neither superscription nor signature. I laughed at the quaint message; but Holmes showed unwonted seriousness.

"Deviltry, Watson!" he remarked, and sat long with a clouded brow.

Late last night Mrs. Hudson, our landlady, brought up a message that a gentleman wished to see Mr. Holmes, and that the matter was of the utmost importance. Close at the heels of his messenger came Cecil Barker, our friend of the moated Manor House. His face was drawn and haggard.

"I've had bad news--terrible news, Mr. Holmes," said he.

"I feared as much," said Holmes.

"You have not had a cable, have you?"

"I have had a note from someone who has."

"It's poor Douglas. They tell me his name is Edwards; but he will always be Jack Douglas of Benito Canon to me. I told you that they started together for South Africa in the Palmyra three weeks ago."

"Exactly."

"The ship reached Cape Town last night. I received this cable from Mrs. Douglas this morning:

Jack has been lost overboard in gale off St. Helena. No one knows how accident occurred.

IVY DOUGLAS."

"Ha! It came like that, did it?" said Holmes thoughtfully. "Well, I've no doubt it was well stage-managed."

"You mean that you think there was no accident?"

"None in the world."

"He was murdered?"

"Surely!"

"So I think also. These infernal Scowrers, this cursed vindictive nest of criminals--"

"No, no, my good sir," said Holmes. "There is a master hand here. It is no case of sawed-off shotguns and clumsy six-shooters. You can tell an old master by the sweep of his brush. I can tell a Moriarty when I see one. This crime is from London, not from America."

"But for what motive?"

"Because it is done by a man who cannot afford to fail, one whose whole unique position depends upon the fact that all he does must succeed. A great brain and a huge organization have been turned to the extinction of one man. It is crushing the nut with the triphammer--an absurd extravagance of energy--but the nut is very effectually crushed all the same."

"How came this man to have anything to do with it?"

"I can only say that the first word that ever came to us of the business was from one of his lieutenants. These Americans were well advised. Having an English job to do, they took into partnership, as any foreign criminal could do, this great consultant in crime. From that moment their man was doomed. At first he would content himself by using his machinery in order to find their victim. Then he would indicate how the matter might be treated. Finally, when he read in the reports of the failure of this agent, he would step in himself with a master touch. You heard me warn this man at Birlstone Manor House that the coming danger was greater than the past. Was I right?"

Barker beat his head with his clenched fist in his impotent anger. "Do not tell me that we have to sit down under this? Do you say that no one can ever get level with this king devil?"

"No, I don't say that," said Holmes, and his eyes seemed to be looking far into the future. "I don't say that he can't be beat. But you must give me time--you must give me time!"

We all sat in silence for some minutes while those fateful eyes still strained to pierce the veil.

 

 

尾声

经过警署审理,约翰·道格拉斯案转到上一级法庭。地方法庭以自卫杀人无罪,宣判释放。

“不借任何代价,一定要让他离开英国,"福尔摩斯给爱德华妻子的信中写道,“这里危机四伏,甚至比他逃过的那些危难还要凶险许多。在英国,没有你丈夫安全栖身之地。”

两个月过去了,我们把这件案子渐渐淡忘了。可是一天早晨,我们的信箱里收到一封莫名片妙的信。信上只有简单的几个字:“天哪,福尔摩斯先生,天哪!"既无地址,又无署名。我看了这离奇古怪的语句,不觉好笑,可是福尔摩斯却显得异常严肃。

“这一定是坏事情,华生!"福尔摩斯说道,双眉紧锁坐在那里。

夜里已经很晚了,我们的女房东赫德森太太进来通报说,有一位绅士有要事求见福尔摩斯。紧随着通报人之后,我们在伯尔斯通庄园所结识的朋友塞西尔·巴克走了进来。巴克面色阴郁,形容憔悴。

“我带来了不幸的消息,可怕的消息,福尔摩斯先生,"巴克说道。

“我也很担忧呢,"福尔摩斯说道。

“你没有接到电报吗?”

“我收到一个人写来的信。”

“可怜的道格拉斯。他们告诉我,他的真名叫爱德华,可是对我来说,他永远是贝尼托峡谷的杰克·道格拉斯。在三星期以前,他们夫妇二人一起乘巴尔米拉号轮船到南非洲去了。”

“不错。”

“昨夜这艘船已驶抵开普敦。今天上午我收到道格拉斯夫人的电报:

‘杰克于圣赫勒纳岛附近大风中不幸落海。没有人知

道如何发生这样的意外事故。

艾维·道格拉斯'”

“哎呀!原来如此!"福尔摩斯若有所思地说道,“嗯,我可以肯定,这是有人在幕后周密安排与指挥的。”

“你是说,你认为这不是一次意外的事故吗?”

“世界上没有这样的意外事故的。”

“他是被人谋杀的吗?”

“当然了!”

“我也认为是这么回事。这些万恶的死酷党人,这一伙该死的复仇主义罪犯……”

“不,不,我的好先生,"福尔摩斯说道,“这里另有一个主谋的人。这不是一个使用截短了的猎枪和拙笨的六响左轮的案件。你可以说这是一个老对手干的。可是我说这是莫里亚蒂的手法。这次犯罪行动是从伦敦指挥的,不是从美国来的。”

“可是他的动机是什么呢?”

“因为下这种毒手的人是一个不甘心失败的人,这个人完全与众不同的地方就在于,他所作的一切事都一定要达到目的。这样一个有才智的人和一个庞大的组织动手去消灭一个人,就如同铁锤砸胡桃,用力过度显得荒谬可笑,不过,这胡桃自然轻而易举地被砸碎了。”

“这个人和这件事有什么关系呢?”

“我只能告诉你,我们知道这些事,还是莫里亚蒂的一个助手走漏的消息。这些美国人是经过慎重考虑的。他们象其他外国罪犯那样,要在英国作案,自然就与这个犯罪的巨匠合伙了。从那时期,他们要害的人的命运就注定了。最初莫里亚蒂派他的手下去寻找要谋杀的人,然后指示怎样去处理这件事。结果,当他看到鲍德温暗杀失败的报告以后,他就亲自动手了。你曾听到我在伯尔斯通庄园向贵友警告过,未来的危险比过去的要严重得多。我没说错吧?”

巴克生气地攥紧拳头敲打着自己的头部,说道:“你是说我们只能听任他们摆布吗?你是说没有一个人能敌得过这个魔王吗?”

“不,我没这么说,"福尔摩斯说道,他的双眼似乎远望着未来,“我并没有说他是不能打倒的。可是你必须给我时间——你必须给我时间!”

一时之间,我们大家沉默不语,而福尔摩斯颇有预见的炯炯双目似欲望穿云幕。

------------------