Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
THE ADVENTURE OF THE DYING DETECTIVE
With a shrill cry of anger a man rose from a reclining chair (кресло с откидной спинкой) beside the fire. I saw a great yellow face, coarse-grained and greasy, with heavy, double-chin, and two sullen, menacing gray eyes which glared at me from under tufted and sandy brows. A high bald head had a small velvet smoking-cap poised coquettishly upon one side of its pink curve. The skull was of enormous capacity, and yet as I looked down I saw to my amazement that the figure of the man was small and frail, twisted in the shoulders and back like one who has suffered from rickets (от рахита) in his childhood.
‘What’s this?’ he cried in a high, screaming voice. ‘What is the meaning of this intrusion? Didn't I send you word that I would see you to-morrow morning?’
‘I am sorry,’ said I, ‘but the matter cannot be delayed. Mr. Sherlock Holmes – ‘
The mention of my friend's name had an extraordinary effect upon the little man. The look of anger passed in an instant from his face. His features became tense and alert.
‘Have you come from Holmes?’ he asked.
‘I have just left him.’
‘What about Holmes? How is he?’
‘He is desperately ill. That is why I have come.’
The man motioned me to a chair, and turned to resume his own. As he did so I caught a glimpse of his face in the mirror over the mantelpiece. I could have sworn that it was set in a malicious and abominable smile. Yet I persuaded myself that it must have been some nervous contraction which I had surprised, for he turned to me an instant later with genuine concern upon his features.
‘I am sorry to hear this,’ said he. ‘I only know Mr. Holmes through some business dealings (деловые отношения) which we have had, but I have every respect for his talents and his character. He is an amateur of crime, as I am of disease. For him the villain, for me the microbe. There are my prisons,’ he continued, pointing to a row of bottles and jars which stood upon a side table. ‘Among those gelatine cultivations (в этих желатиновых культурах) some of the very worst offenders in the world are now doing time.’
‘It was on account of your special knowledge that Mr. Holmes desired to see you. He has a high opinion of you and thought that you were the one man in London who could help him.’
The little man started, and the jaunty smoking-cap slid to the floor.
‘Why?’ he asked. ‘Why should Mr. Holmes think that I could help him in his trouble?’
‘Because of your knowledge of Eastern diseases.’
‘But why should he think that this disease which he has contracted is Eastern?’
‘Because, in some professional inquiry, he has been working among Chinese sailors down in the docks (в доках).’
Mr. Culverton Smith smiled pleasantly and picked up his smoking-cap.
‘Oh, that's it - is it?’ said he. ‘I trust the matter is not so grave as you suppose. How long has he been ill?’
‘About three days.’
‘Is he delirious?’
‘Tut, tut! This sounds serious. It would be inhuman not to answer his call. I very much resent any interruption to my work, Dr. Watson, but this case is certainly exceptional. I will come with you at once.’
I remembered Holmes's injunction.
‘I have another appointment,’ said I.
‘Very good. I will go alone. I have a note of Mr. Holmes's address. You can rely upon my being there within half an hour at most.’