- This article is about the Short Story. If you were looking for the Book, see His Last Bow (short stories)
|His Last Bow|
The narrative opens as two German agents called von Bork and von Herling stand talking outside an English country house. The two men discuss the positions of the United Kingdom and Germany relative to the impending First World War.
Von Bork talks about an Irish-American man called Altamont whom he employs as an informer against the British. Altamont is supposed to be bringing an important dossier to von Bork that evening. Once von Bork receives it he intends to leave England.
Von Herling departs and von Bork starts packing in preparation for his getaway. Altamont soon arrives in a chauffeur driven car. He has a small wrapped parcel with him which he claims is the anticipated dossier of information.
Von Bork opens up the parcel and is amazed to find a small blue book entitled “Practical Handbook of Bee Culture”. Altamont then swiftly renders von Bork unconscious using chloroform.
Altamont is really Sherlock Holmes and his chauffeur is Doctor Watson. Holmes gathers up von Bork’s papers so that the English government will be able to get an idea of how much information the Germans possess. Holmes tells Watson that he supplied many of the documents himself in the persona of Altamont and so the information they contained was inaccurate.
Holmes had retired to the South Downs and immersed himself in his new hobby of bee-keeping. The handbook which was in the parcel was Holmes’ own work. His secluded life had come to an end when the British government asked for his help. Holmes had gone to America and worked as a criminal in order to get the attention of von Bork and ultimately be trusted by him as an agent.
Holmes talks to Watson of the dangers of the impending war and his hope for a “cleaner, better, stronger land” after the storm has passed.
The von Bork case seems to have been Sherlock Holmes's last bow. Following the arrest, Holmes returned to his life of seclusion in Sussex to live out his life in peace and solitude, keeping bees and eventually publishing a manual on the subject. The details of his later life and death are not known but he lives on to this day through the records of his thrilling cases, and will always be remembered and regarded as the "World's Greatest Detective".