1 -The King's Mistake
For Sherlock Holmes, there was only one woman in the world. He did not love her, because he never loved women. But after their meeting he never forgot her. Her name was Irene Adler.
One night in March I visited my old friend at his home in Baker Street. I was married by now, so I did not often see him.
'Come in, Watson,' he said. 'Sit down. I'mhappy to see you, because I've got something to show you. What do you think of this? It arrived in the last post.' It was a letter, with no date, name or address. It said:
'Tonight someone will visit you, to talk about some very secret business. You have helped other important people, and you can, we hope, help us. Be in your room at 7.45 p.m.'
'The paper — what do you think about the paper?'asked Holmes.
I tried to think like Holmes. 'It's expensive, so this person is rich. It's strange paper.'
'Yes, it's not English. If you look at it in the light, you can see that it was made in Bohemia. And a German, I think, wrote the letter. Ah, here comes our A Scandal in Bohemia 15 man now.' We could hear the horses in the street. 'Shall I leave, Holmes?' I asked.
'No, no, I need yourhelp. This will be interesting,' my friend answered. There was a knock at the door.
'Come in!' called Holmes.
A tall, strong man came into the room. He was wearing expensive clothes, and a mask over his face.
'You can call me Count von Kramm. I come from Bohemia,' he said. 'My business is most important. Before I tell you about it, do you agree to keep it a secret?'
'I do,' we saidtogether.
'A very important person, who belongs to a royal family, has sent me to ask for your help,' he went on. 'I wear a mask because nobody must know who that person is. I must explain how important this business is. If you cannot help, there will be difficulty and trouble for one of the most important families in Europe — and perhaps a very big scandal. I am talking about the famous House ofOrmstein, Kings of Bohemia.'
'I know, Your Majesty,' said Holmes. He quietly smoked his cigarette.
The man jumped up from his chair, 'What!' he cried.
[[[He was wearing expensive clothes, and a mask.]]]
'How do you know who I am?' Then he pulled the mask off his face and threw it on the ground. 'You are right. Why do I hide it? I am the King. I am Wilhelm von Ormstein, King of Bohemia. I cameto see you myself because I could not ask another person to tell my story. It must be a secret. You understand?'
'Very well. Go on,' said Holmes. He closed his eyes and listened. 'Five years ago I met a woman called Irene Adler. We . . .' 'Ah,' said Holmes, 'Irene Adler, born in 1850, singer, lives in London, a very beautiful woman, I hear . . . ' He looked at the King. 'You and she . . . Youloved her, for a while, and then left her. But before you left her, you wrote her some letters perhaps. And now you want to get these letters back.'
'Did you marry her?'
'If she asks you for money and shows you the letters, you can say that you didn't write them.'
'But Mr Holmes, she also has my photograph.'
'You can say that you didn't give her a photograph.''We were both in the photograph.'
'Oh dear. That was a mistake, Your Majesty.'
'I know. I was stupid . . . but I was very young!'
'You must get the photograph back. Can you steal it from her house?'
'I have tried five times but my men couldn't find it.
What can I do?'
Holmes laughed. 'This is very interesting. What does she plan to do with the photograph?'
'Soon I am going to marryClotilde Lothman von Saxe-Meningen, daughter of the King of Scandinavia. You know, of course, that we are two of the most important royal families in Europe. Clotilde will never marry me if she learns that I have been a . . . friend of Irene Adler. You do not know Irene Adler. She's a beautiful woman, but she can be as hard as a man. She was angry when I left her, and so she doesn't want me to...