The Great Agra Treasure
Holmes, Miss Morstan and I looked at each other in surprise.
My body felt cold with fear.
‘The same words — «The Sign of Four» — were written on that strange note in Captain Morstan’s luggage,’ said Holmes.
‘What can it mean?’ I whispered.
Miss Morstan turned to Thaddeus Sholto.
‘Why did you send me the pearls?’ she asked.
‘On the table, beside our father’s bed, was a gold cup,’ Sholto answered. ‘It was decorated with six pearls. Our father had told us that this cup was part of the Agra Treasure. He had wanted us to share the treasure with you. So we found your address and sent you the pearls, one by one.’
‘That was very kind of you, Mr Sholto,’ said Miss Morstan.
‘Not at all,’ said Sholto. ‘But now I am going to tell you something very exciting. Yesterday my brother and I found the Great Agra Treasure!’
‘You found the treasure!’ we repeated in astonishment.
‘Yes. Our father had died before he told us where it was hidden. My brother, Bartholomew, and I searched for the treasure for six years. Yesterday, we found it. That is why we sent you the letter, Miss Morstan. We have found the treasure. But half of it belongs to you.’
‘Where is the treasure now?’ asked Holmes.
‘At my father’s house, Pondicherry Lodge,’ replied Sholto. ‘My brother, Bartholomew, lives there now. We must go there immediately so that Miss Morstan can see the treasure and claim her share. Bartholomew is expecting us. Miss Morstan, tonight you will be a rich woman!’
Miss Morstan was going to be very rich. I should have been very happy. But I did not feel happy at all. I had fallen in love with Miss Morstan. But I did not have very much money. If she became rich, I could not ask her to marry me.
Thaddeus Sholto put on his coat. ‘Come,’ he said. ‘I have a cab waiting outside. It will take us to Pondicherry Lodge. We must not be late.’
It was a long drive to Pondicherry Lodge. The night was cold, and the moon was shining brightly. As we sat in the cab, Thaddeus Sholto continued to talk. Holmes, Miss Morstan and I listened.
‘My brother, Bartholomew, is a very clever man,’ he said. ‘He knew that the treasure was somewhere in the house. He had an idea. He measured the height of the house outside. It was seventy-four feet high. Then he measured the height of the rooms inside the house. He added the heights of the rooms together. The total was only seventy feet. There was extra space under the roof! My brother made a hole in the ceiling of the room on the top floor. He found a secret room. Inside this little room, the treasure chest was standing. Last night, I helped Bartholomew to lower the chest down into the room below. We opened the chest with a key which we found beside it.’
Thaddeus Sholto’s voice became excited.
‘Inside the treasure chest were hundreds of beautiful jewels — diamonds, rubies, sapphires and many others. They shone so brightly that they hurt our eyes. Miss Morstan, the Agra Treasure is really wonderful. But here is Pondicherry Lodge. We have arrived. Soon you will see the treasure for yourself.’
It was now nearly eleven o’clock. Pondicherry Lodge was a big house with a high wall around it. Everything was black and silent. There was no light except the moonlight.
‘This is very strange,’ Thaddeus Sholto said nervously- ‘I don’t understand why there are no lights. My brother, Bartholomew, is expecting us. But the house is dark.’
We walked up to the house. Suddenly we heard a noise coming from inside that great black house. It was the sound of a woman crying.
‘The only woman in the house is the housekeeper,’ said Sholto. ‘Something is wrong.’
We hurried to the door and knocked. A tall old woman opened it. Her face was white with fear.
‘Oh, Mr Thaddeus, I’m glad you have come,’ she said. ‘I’m very frightened. Come into the house, Mr Thaddeus. Oh, I’m glad that you are here. Something terrible has happened to your brother!’