Freitag, 1. August 2014

Kaiserdämmerung (13) – Arthur Conan Doyle, His Last Bow: Sherlock Holmes fängt einen deutschen Spion

Auf der Suche nach sehr kurzen englischen Geschichten zum ersten Weltkrieg bin ich noch nicht so recht fündig geworden. Außerdem müssen die Autoren mehr als 70 Jahre tot sein, damit ich die Texte hier frei abdrucken kann.

Längere short stories gibt es genug. Einige haben mich sehr fasziniert, zum Beispiel die kuriose Sherlock-Holmes-Geschichte “His Last Bow” (1917) von Arthur Conan Doyle, die mit folgendem bemerkenswerten Satz beginnt:

“It was nine o'clock at night upon the second of August--the most terrible August in the history of the world.”

Der Autor lässt hier zu Anfang des ersten Weltkrieges noch einmal seine berühmten Figuren Sherlock Holmes und Dr. Watson aus dem Ruhestand zurückkehren, um einen deutschen Spion zu überführen.

Ich drucke nur den Anfang ab. Die ganze Geschichte ist mir zu lang für meine Reihe.

His Last Bow 

An Epilogue of Sherlock Holmes

Arthur Conan Doyle
It was nine o'clock at night upon the second of August--the most terrible August in the history of the world. One might have thought already that God's curse hung heavy over a degenerate world, for there was an awesome hush and a feeling of vague expectancy in the sultry and stagnant air. The sun had long set, but one blood-red gash like an open wound lay low in the distant west. Above, the stars were shining brightly, and below, the lights of the shipping glimmered in the bay. The two famous Germans stood beside the stone parapet of the garden walk, with the long, low, heavily gabled house behind them, and they looked down upon the broad sweep of the beach at the foot of the great chalk cliff in which Von Bork, like some wandering eagle, had perched himself four years before. They stood with their heads close together, talking in low, confidential tones. From below the two glowing ends of their cigars might have been the smouldering eyes of some malignant fiend looking down in the darkness

A remarkable man this Von Bork--a man who could hardly be matched among all the devoted agents of the Kaiser. It was his talents which had first recommended him for the English mission, the most important mission of all, but since he had taken it over those talents had become more and more manifest to the half-dozen people in the world who were really in touch with the truth. One of these was his present companion, Baron Von Herling, the chief secretary of the legation, whose huge 100-horse-power Benz car was blocking the country lane as it waited to waft its owner back to London. 

"So far as I can judge the trend of events, you will probably be back in Berlin within the week," the secretary was saying. "When you get there, my dear Von Bork, I think you will be surprised at the welcome you will receive. I happen to know what is thought in the highest quarters of your work in this country." He was a huge man, the secretary, deep, broad, and tall, with a slow, heavy fashion of speech which had been his main asset in his political career. 

Von Bork laughed.

"They are not very hard to deceive," he remarked. "A more docile, simple folk could not be imagined."
"I don't know about that," said the other thoughtfully. "They have strange limits and one must learn to observe them. It is that surface simplicity of theirs which makes a trap for the stranger. One's first impression is that they are entirely soft. Then one comes suddenly upon something very hard, and you know that you have reached the limit and must adapt yourself to the fact. They have, for example, their insular conventions which simply MUST be observed."

Neugierig geworden? Die ganze Geschichte findet sich im Gutenberg-Projekt.

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