“I trust that you are as comfortable as circumstances permit,” said Holmes when the final arrangements were made. “Should I be guilty of a liberty if I lit a cigar and placed it between your lips?”
But all amenities were wasted upon the angry German.
“I suppose you realize, Mr. Sherlock Holmes,” said he, “that if your government bears you out in this treatment it becomes an act of war.”
“What about your government and all this treatment?” said Holmes, tapping the valise.
“You are a private individual. You have no warrant for my arrest. The whole proceeding is absolutely illegal and outrageous.”
“Absolutely,” said Holmes.
“Kidnapping a German subject.”
“And stealing his private papers.”
“Well, you realize your position, you and your accomplice here. If I were to shout for help as we pass through the village–”
“My dear sir, if you did anything so foolish you would probably enlarge the two limited titles of our village inns by giving us ‘The Dangling Prussian’ as a signpost. The Englishman is a patient creature, but at present his temper is a little inflamed, and it would be as well not to try him too far. No, Mr. Von Bork, you will go with us in a quiet, sensible fashion to Scotland Yard, whence you can send for your friend, Baron Von Herling, and see if even now you may not fill that place which he has reserved for you in the ambassadorial suite. As to you, Watson, you are joining us with your old service, as I understand, so London won’t be out of your way. Stand with me here upon the terrace, for it may be the last quiet talk that we shall ever have.”
The two friends chatted in intimate converse for a few minutes, recalling once again the days of the past, while their prisoner vainly wriggled to undo the bonds that held him. As they turned to the car Holmes pointed back to the moonlit sea and shook a thoughtful head.
“There’s an east wind coming, Watson.”
“I think not, Holmes. It is very warm.”
“Good old Watson! You are the one fixed point in a changing age. There’s an east wind coming all the same, such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it’s God’s own wind none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared. Start her up, Watson, for it’s time that we were on our way. I have a check for five hundred pounds which should be cashed early, for the drawer is quite capable of stopping it if he can.”