The Adventure of the Final Problem

“I did exactly what you advised.”

“Did you find your brougham?”

“Yes, it was waiting.”

“Did you recognize your coachman?”

“No.”

“It was my brother Mycroft. It is an advantage to get about in such a case without taking a mercenary into your confidence. But we must plan what we are to do about Moriarty now.”

“As this is an express, and as the boat runs in connection with it, I should think we have shaken him off very effectively.”

“My dear Watson, you evidently did not realize my meaning when I said that this man may be taken as being quite on the same intellectual plane as myself. You do not imagine that if I were the pursuer I should allow myself to be baffled by so slight an obstacle. Why, then, should you think so meanly of him?”

“What will he do?”

“What I should do.”

“What would you do, then?”

“Engage a special.”

“But it must be late.”

“By no means. This train stops at Canterbury; and there is always at least a quarter of an hour’s delay at the boat. He will catch us there.”

“One would think that we were the criminals. Let us have him arrested on his arrival.”

“It would be to ruin the work of three months. We should get the big fish. but the smaller would dart right and left out of the net. On Monday we should have them all. No, an arrest is inadmissible.”

“What then?”

“We shall get out at Canterbury.”

“And then?”

“Well, then we must make a cross-country journey to Newhaven, and so over to Dieppe. Moriarty will again do what I should do. He will get on to Paris, mark down our luggage, and wait for two days at the depot. In the meantime we shall treat ourselves to a couple of carpet-bags, encourage the manufactures of the countries through which we travel, and make our way at our leisure into Switzerland, via Luxembourg and Basle.”

At Canterbury, therefore, we alighted, only to find that we should have to walt an hour before we could get a train to Newhaven.

I was still looking rather ruefully after the rapidly disappearing luggage-van which contained my wardrobe, when Holmes pulled my sleeve and pointed up the line.

“Already, you see,” said he.

Far away, from among the Kentish woods there rose a thin spray of smoke. A minute later a carriage and engine could be seen flying along the open curve which leads to the station. We had hardly time to take our place behind a pile of luggage when it passed with a rattle and a roar, beating a blast of hot air into our faces.

“There he goes,” said Holmes, as we watched the carriage swing and rock over the points. “There are limits, you see, to our friend’s intelligetnce. It would have been a coup-de-maitre had he deduced what I would deduce and acted accordingly.”

“And what would he have done had he overtaken us?”

“There cannot be the least doubt that he would have made a murderous attack upon me. It is, however, a game at which two may play. The question now is whether we should take a premature lunch here, or run our chance of starving before we reach the buffet at Newhaven.”

We made our way to Brussels that night and spent two days there, moving on upon the third day as far as Strasbourg. On the Monday morning Holmes had telegraphed to the London police, and in the evening we found a reply waiting for us at our hotel. Holmes tore it open, and then with a bitter curse hurled it into the grate.

“I might have known it!” he groaned. “He has escaped!”

“Moriarty?”

“They have secured the whole gang with the exception of him. He has given them the slip. Of course, when I had left the country there was no one to cope with him. But I did think that I had put the game in their hands. I think that you had better return to England, Watson.”

“Why?”

“Because you will find me a dangerous companion now. This man’s occupation is gone. He is lost if he returns to London. If I read his character right he will devote his whole energies to revenging himself upon me. He said as much in our short interview, and I fancy that he meant it. I should certainly recommend you to return to your practice.”

It was hardly an appeal to be successful with one who was an old campaigner as well as an old friend. We sat in the Strasbourg salle-a-manger arguing the question for half an hour, but the same night we had resumed our journey and were well on our way to Geneva.

 

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