the sign of four chapter 3


A Strange Meeting

A t half past five, Holmes returned. He was very pleased about something.

‘I have had great success, Watson,’ he said, as I gave him a cup of tea.

‘What, Holmes! Have you solved the mystery already?’ I asked in surprise.

‘No, no. But I have discovered something very interesting. Miss Morstan said that her father had a very good friend in India. His name was Major Sholto.’

‘Yes,’ I said. ‘Major Sholto had retired from the army. He was living in London when Captain Morstan disappeared. But he did not know that Morstan was in England.’

‘Well,’ said Holmes. ‘I have just been to the offices of The Times newspaper. I looked through the old copies of the newspaper and I discovered that Major Sholto died on 28th April 1882.

‘Perhaps I am very stupid, Holmes, but I don’t see why this discovery is interesting.’

‘Listen,’ Holmes said. ‘Captain Morstan disappeared. He had one friend in London — Major Sholto. But Major Sholto said that he didn’t know that Captain Morstan was in London.

‘Four years later, on 28th April 1882, Sholto died. A few days later, on 4th May 1882, Captain Morstan’s daughter saw the advertisement in a newspaper. Then, she received a valuable present. These presents came every year. Why do the presents arrive on that day? They must have something to do with Sholto’s death.’

I was still puzzled. ‘But Sholto died six years ago,’ I said. ‘Why did Miss Morstan receive that letter today — six years later? The letter speaks of telling her the truth. What can it mean?’

‘I hope that we’ll find the answers to these questions tonight, Watson,’ said Holmes seriously. ‘Are you ready? It’s six o’clock and here is Miss Morstan.’

Miss Morstan entered the room. She was wearing a dark cloak and hat. She did not seem afraid, but her beautiful face was very pale.

I picked up my hat and my heaviest stick. I noticed that Holmes took his gun from his drawer and put it into his pocket.

We got into a cab and were soon on our way to the Lyceum Theatre. In the cab, Miss Morstan took a piece of paper out of her bag.

‘Mr Holmes, I forgot to show you this. This note was found in my father’s luggage. It is very strange. I don’t know what it means. Perhaps it isn’t very important, but I wanted you to see it.’

Holmes unfolded the note carefully and spread it on his knee. He took a magnifying glass out of his pocket and examined the paper.

‘This paper was made in India,’ he remarked. ‘Have a look at it, Watson.’

I took the note and studied it carefully. The paper was thin and old. There was a drawing on the paper.

‘It looks like the plan of a large building,’ I said. ‘Somebody has made a mark to show a certain place in the building. But what are these names at the bottom? And what is the meaning of — «The Sign of Four»?’

‘I don’t understand what this note means,’ said Holmes. ‘But it might be important. I will keep it.’

He sat back in the cab. Miss Morstan and I talked quietly together. But Holmes did not say anything. I knew he was thinking hard.

It was getting dark and the people in the streets were hurrying home from work. I was feeling a little afraid. I wondered what kind of person we would meet at the Lyceum Theatre.

There were many people outside the theatre. Everyone was meeting friends and going in to see the play. The letter had told us to stand outside on the left. We waited. Suddenly a small dark man appeared.

‘Are you Miss Morstan and her friends?’ he asked.

‘Yes,’ she said.

‘You must promise me that these men are not policemen,’ said the stranger.

‘They are not policemen,’ replied Miss Morstan.

‘Then come with me,’ said the man.

He led us quickly across the street to another cab and opened the door. We went inside. The man closed the door and jumped up onto the driver’s seat of the cab. The horse moved off quickly.

We passed through so many streets that I was very soon lost. I had no idea where we were going. I was feeling nervous and Miss Morstan’s face looked white. Sherlock Holmes was calm. Our strange driver did not turn round or speak to us. The only sound was the noise of the horse’s hooves.

At last we stopped. We were outside a house in a dark quiet street. It had only one small light in the kitchen window. There were no lights in any of the other houses in the street.

We knocked at the door. It was opened immediately by an Indian servant. The Indian was wearing a bright yellow turban on his head. He had white clothes and a yellow belt. It was very strange to see such brightly colored clothes in this quiet street in London.

‘My master is waiting for you,’ said the servant.

As he spoke, we heard a man’s voice. It came from one of the rooms inside the house.

‘Bring them in to me,’ the voice called. ‘Bring them straight in to me.’


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