It was nine o'clock at night upon the second of August--the most terrible August in the history of the world. One might have thought already that God's curse hung heavy over a degenerate world, for there was an awesome hush and a feeling of vague expectancy in the sultry and stagnant air. The sun had long set, but one blood-red gash like an open wound lay low in the distant west. Above, the stars were shining brightly, and below, the lights of the shipping glimmered in the bay.If you don't know at least that first sentence by heart, you ought to hang up your deerstalker!
-- "His Last Bow"
This isn't a quote in the sense of dialogue, something that appears in quotation marks in the story, but it is one of the most quotable passages in the Canon because it is among the most beautiful. Dr. Watson has given us some more dramatic moments, but none more lyrical.
In fact, I love the whole story. In an interview with my publisher, I declared it to be my favorite Sherlock Holmes story. It doesn't have the best mystery or the cleverest plot in the Canon, but the writing is wonderful and the relationship between Holmes and Watson is priceless. It's quite deserving of its subtitle, "An Epilogue of Sherlock Holmes." If you haven't read it in a while, stop and do so right now.
What's your favorite Sherlock Holmes opening?