From the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Scandal In Bohemia Chapter One Part Two.
[Music] Helping you sleep. I'm John Chidjie. You can follow me on the Fediverse at email@example.com, on Twitter @johnchidjie, all one word, or the network at engineered_net. Sleep is sponsored by you, our listeners. If you'd like to support the show, you can do so via Patreon. With a big thank you to all of our patrons and a special thank you to our Patreon Silver Producers Mitch Bielger, John Whitlow, Joseph Antonio, Kevin Koch and Oliver Steele. And an extra special thank you to our Patreon Gold Producer, known only as R. Visit engineer.network/sleep to learn how you can help. Thank you. So now that's out of the way, let me talk to you. Just for a few minutes. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle A Scandal in Bohemia Chapter One As he spoke there was a sharp sound of horses' hooves and grating wheels against the curb, followed by a sharp pull at the bell. Holmes whistled. "A pair by the sound," he said. "Yes," he continued, glancing out of the window. a nice little brogham and a pair of beauties, a hundred and fifty guineas apiece. There's money in this case, Watson, if there is nothing else. I think that I had better go, Holmes. Not a bit, Doctor. Stay where you are. I am lost without my Boswell, and this promises to be interesting. It would be a pity to miss it. But your client—never mind him. I may want your help, and so may he. Here he comes. Sit down in that arm-chair, Doctor, and give us your best attention." A slow and heavy step, which had been heard upon the stairs, and then the passage paused immediately outside the door. Then there was a loud and authoritative tap. "Come in," said Holmes. A man entered who could hardly have been less than six feet six inches in height, with the chest and limbs of a Hercules. His dress was rich, with a richness which would in England be looked upon as akin to bad taste. Heavy V bands of astrakhan were slashed across the sleeves and fronts of his double-breasted coat, while the deep blue cloak which was thrown over his shoulders was lined with flame-coloured silk and secured at the neck with a brooch, which consisted of a single flaming barrel. Boots which extended halfway up his calves, and which were trimmed at the tops with rich brown fur, completed the impression of barbaric opulence which was suggested by his whole appearance. carried a broad-brimmed hat in his hand, while he wore, across the upper part of his face extending down past his cheekbones, a black viziered mask, which he had apparently adjusted that very moment, for his hand was still raised to it as he entered. From the lower part of his face he appeared to be a man of strong character, with a thick hanging lip, and a long straight chin, suggestive of resolution pushed to the length of its obstinacy. "You had my note?" he asked with a deep, harsh voice and a strongly marked German accent. "I told you that I would call." He looked from one to the other of us, as if uncertain which to address. "Pray take a seat," said Holmes. "This is my friend and colleague, Dr. Watson, who is occasionally good enough to help me in my cases, whom have I the honor to address. You may address me as the Count von Cram, a bohemian nobleman. I understand that this gentleman, your friend, is a man of honor indiscretion, whom I may trust with a matter of the most extreme importance. If not, I should much prefer to communicate with you alone. I rose to go, but Holmes caught me by the wrist and pushed me back into my chair. "It is both or none," he said. "You may say before this gentleman anything which you may say to me." The Count shrugged his broad shoulders. "Then I must begin," he said. "By binding you both to absolute secrecy for two years, at the end of that time the matter will be of no importance. At present it is not too much to say that it is of such weight it may have an influence upon European history." "I promise," said Holmes, "and I." "You will excuse this mask," continued our strange visitor. "The august person who employs me wishes his agent to be unknown to you, and I may confess at once that the title by which I have just called myself is not exactly my own." "I was aware of it," said Holmes dryly. The circumstances are of great delicacy, and every precaution has to be taken to quench what might grow to be an immense scandal and seriously compromise one of the reigning families of Europe. To speak plainly, the matter implicates the great house of Ormstein, hereditary kings of Bohemia. I was also aware of that. Mermin Holmes settling self down in his armchair and closing his eyes. Our visitor glanced with some apparent surprise at the languid, lounging figure of the man who had been no doubt depicted to him as the most incisive reasoner and most energetic agent in Europe, Holmes slowly reopened his eyes and looked impatiently at his gigantic client. "If Your Majesty would condescend to state your case," he remarked, "and I should be better able to advise you." The man sprang from his chair and paced up and down the room in uncontrollable agitation. Then, with a gesture of desperation, he tore the mask from his face and held it upon the ground. "You are right," he cried, "I am the king. Why should I attempt to conceal it?" "Why, indeed," murmured Holmes. "Your Majesty had not spoken before I was aware that I was addressing Wilhelm Gottfried Sigismund von Ormstein, Grand Duke of the Castle Felsstein and hereditary King of Bohemia. But you can understand," said our strange visitor, sitting down once more and passing his hand over his high white forehead, "you can understand that I am not accustomed to doing such business in my own person, yet the matter was so delicate I could not confide it to an agent without putting myself in his power. I have come incognito from Prague for the purpose of consulting you." "Then pray consult," said Holmes, shutting his eyes once more. "The facts are briefly these. Some five years ago, during a lengthy visit to Warsaw, I made the acquaintance of a well-known adventurist, Irene Adler. The name is no doubt familiar to you." "Kindly look her up in my index, Doctor," murmured Holmes, without opening his eyes. For many years he had adopted a system of docketing all paragraphs concerning men and things, so that it was difficult to name a subject or a person on which he could not at once furnish information. In this case, I found her biography sandwiched in between that of a Hebrew rabbi and that of a staff commander who had written a monograph upon the deep-sea fishes. "Let me see," said Holmes. "Hmm. Born in New Jersey in the year 1858. Contralto. Mm, La Scala. Mm, Prima Donna. Imperial Opera of Warsaw. Yes. Retired from operatic stage. Ha! Living in London, quite so. Your Majesty, as I understand, became entangled with this young person, wrote her some compromising letters, and is now desirous of getting those letters back? Precisely. But how was there a secret marriage? None. No legal papers or certificates? None. Then I fail to follow your majesty. If this young person should produce her letters of blackmailing or other purposes, how is she to prove their authenticity? There is the writing. Hoopoo. Forgery. My private notepaper. Stolen. And the seal? Imitated. photograph bought. We were both in the photograph. Oh dear. That is very bad. Your Majesty has indeed committed an indiscretion. I was mad, insane. You have compromised yourself. Seriously. I was only crown prince then. I was young. I am but thirty now. It must be recovered. We have tried and failed. Your Majesty must pay. It must be bought. She will not sell. Stolen, then? Five attempts have been made. Twice burglars in my pay ransacked her house. Once we diverted her luggage when she travelled. Twice she has been waylaid. Yet there has been no result. Sign of it? Absolutely none." Holmes laughed. "It is quite a pretty little problem," he said. "But a very serious one to me," returned the King reproachfully. "Very indeed. And what does she propose to do with the photograph?" To ruin me, but how? I am about to be married, so I have heard. To Clotilde Lothman von Saxe-Meningen, second daughter of the King of Scandinavia. You may know the strict principles of her family. She is, herself, the very soul of delicacy, a shadow of a doubt as to my conduct would bring the matter to an end. And Irene Adler threatens to send them the photograph, and she will do it. I know that she will do it. do it. You do not know her, but she has a soul of steel. She has a face of the most beautiful woman and the mind of the most resolute of men. Rather than I should marry another woman, there are no lengths to which she would not go none. Are you sure that she has not sent it yet? I am sure. And why? Because she has said that she would send it on the day when the betrothal was publicly proclaimed. That would be next "Ah, then we have three days yet," said Holmes with a yawn. "That is very fortunate, as I have one or two matters of importance to look into just at present. Your Majesty will of course stay in London for the present. Certainly you will find me at the Langham under the name of Count von Cram. And I shall drop you a line to let you know how we progress. Pray do so. I shall be all anxiety. Then as to money, you have carte blanche." "Absolutely. I tell you that I would give one of my provinces of my kingdom to have that photograph. And for present expenses?" The king took a heavy chamois leather bag from under his cloak and laid it on the table. "There are three hundred pounds in gold and seven hundred in notes," he said. Holmes scribbled a receipt upon a sheet of his notebook and handed it to him. "And Mademoiselle's address?" he asked. "Is Brioni Lodge, Serpentine Avenue, St. John's Wood." took a note of it. "One other question," he said, "was the photograph a cabinet?" It was. "Then good night, your Majesty, and I trust that we shall soon have some good news for you, and good night, Watson," he added, as the wheels of the Royal Brofman rolled down the street. "If you will be good enough to call tomorrow afternoon at three o'clock, I should like to chat this little matter over with you." That is the end of chapter 1.