the sign of four chapter 14


The Treasure is Lost

The wooden-legged man was our prisoner. He was sitting in

The police launch opposite the treasure chest.

He was about fifty years old. He had black, curly hair and a black beard. He did not look angry any more. He was not interested in anything.

‘What’s your name?’ Holmes asked him.

‘Jonathan Small,’ replied the man.

‘Jonathan Small,’ repeated Holmes. He took out the piece of paper which had been found in Captain Morstan’s luggage.

Holmes read out what was written on the piece of paper, «Jonathan Small, Mahomet Singh, Abdullah Khan, DostAkbar. The Sign of Four».’

‘Give me that paper,’ said the man. Holmes gave it to him.

‘Yes,’ Small said, ‘I am one of The Sign of Four. This paper is a plan of the fortress at Agra in India. My three friends and I found the treasure many years ago. Tonight I have lost the Agra Treasure and you have killed my dear friend, Tonga. I am not sorry about the deaths of Sholto and his son. I’m not sorry about anything. Do what you like with me.’

‘You will tell us your story later,’ said Holmes. ‘But first, Watson, would you take the treasure to Miss Morstan?’

‘I shall be pleased to do that,’ I said.

But I was not speaking the truth. I did not want to take the treasure to Miss Morstan. I did not want her to become a rich woman.

‘Inspector Jones and I will take our prisoner to Baker Street,’ said Holmes. ‘We’ll meet you there, Watson.’ Then Holmes turned to Jonathan Small. ‘But where is the key of the treasure chest?’

‘At the bottom of the river,’ replied Jonathan Small.

‘Why did you throw it away?’ cried Inspector Jones angrily. ‘You have made things very difficult for us.’

Jonathan Small did not speak. He did not care what Jones said.

When we got to the jetty, I got out of the launch with the treasure chest. I found a cab and drove to Miss Morstan’s house.

Miss Morstan was sitting by the window. She was wearing a pretty, white dress and her hair was shining brightly in the lamplight.

‘How nice to see you,’ she said when she saw me. ‘Do you have any news?’

‘I have brought something better than news,’ I said, trying to speak happily. ‘I have brought the Agra Treasure.’

I put the heavy chest down on the table. Miss Morstan did not look very excited.

‘So, this is the famous Agra Treasure,’ she said.

‘Yes,’ I replied. ‘Half of it belongs to you and half to Thaddeus Sholto. You are a rich woman now, Miss Morstan.’

‘The treasure can wait,’ she said. ‘First, I want to hear all about your adventures. Please sit down and tell me everything.’

So I told her everything that had happened. I told her how Holmes found the Aurora. I told her about Inspector Jones and Thaddeus Sholto. I told her about the chase on the river, the death of the pygmy and how we had caught Jonathan Small.

‘How brave you are,’ she said. ‘I didn’t know that you were in such terrible danger.’

‘It’s finished now,’ I said. ‘Let’s open the treasure chest. There isn’t a key. How can we open the chest?’

Miss Morstan left the room and came back with a heavy metal bar. I took the bar and put it under the lid of the chest.

Then I turned it and the lid opened. It lifted up the lid. My hands were shaking. We both looked inside. Then we looked at each other in astonishment. The chest was empty! The chest was made of very thick iron. This was why it was so heavy.

‘The treasure is lost,’ said Miss Morstan quietly.

‘Thank God!’ I said.

‘Why do you say «Thank God»?’ asked Miss Morstan.

‘Because now I can ask you to marry me,’ I replied, holding her hand. ‘Because I love you, Mary. Now you are not going to be rich. So I can tell you my feelings. That is why I said «Thank God».’

‘Then I say «Thank God» too,’ she whispered.


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