the sign of four chapter 8


Inspector Jones Makes an arrest

I looked at Holmes in astonishment.

‘How strange!’ I said. ‘Why are a pygmy and a wooden- legged man working together? Who are these people, Holmes? And why did they kill Bartholomew Sholto?’

‘They wanted the treasure, of course,’ answered Holmes. ‘Last night, Bartholomew Sholto was sitting in this room with the treasure. The pygmy came in through the roof and saw him. The only way to get the treasure was to kill Sholto.’

‘And what about the paper with the Sign of Four?’ I asked.

‘It must mean revenge,’ Holmes answered. ‘Remember that a paper from the Sign of Four was also found on the dead body of Major Sholto. I don’t know why someone wants revenge on the Sholto family. But we know that someone wanted revenge. They also wanted the treasure. And they were prepared to kill the Sholtos — father and son — to get the treasure.’

Holmes took out his magnifying glass and started to examine the room again. There were some bottles and tubes in one corner of the room. Bartholomew Sholto must have been interested in chemistry. A glass tube had broken and a dark liquid had spilt onto the floor. Holmes gave a loud cry of joy.

‘Come here, Watson,’ he said. ‘What can you smell?’

I walked over. Suddenly I smelt something very strong and unpleasant. The smell was coming from the dark liquid on the floor. ‘It smells like tar,’ I said.

‘It is similar to tar,’ Holmes answered. ‘It is creosote.’ He was smiling and rubbing his hands together.

‘Why are you so pleased?’ I asked.

Holmes pointed to the floor. I saw a clearly marked small footprint. I realized that the pygmy had stepped in the creosote.

‘I know a dog which loves the smell of creosote. It will follow this smell for miles and miles,’ said Holmes. ‘We’ll catch these murderers now.’

Just then we heard footsteps and loud voices outside the room.

‘It’s the police,’ said Holmes.

As he spoke, a fat man in a grey suit entered the room. His face was red and his eyes were small and bright. He was followed by a policeman in uniform and by Thaddeus Sholto. I had never seen the fat man before, but Holmes seemed to know him well.

‘Good evening, Inspector Jones,’ said Holmes politely. ‘Don’t you remember me?’

The fat man stopped and stared. He was not very pleased to see Holmes.

‘Why, yes, of course,’ he said. ‘You are Mr Sherlock Holmes, the private detective. Yes, I remember you well. This is an interesting crime, Mr Holmes. A man has been murdered and jewels worth a million pounds are missing. What do you think happened?’

‘Well…’ began Holmes.

But Inspector Jones did not want to listen to my friend. He thought his own ideas were better.

‘Listen, Mr Holmes, I will tell you what I think,’ he said importantly. ‘This man, Thaddeus Sholto, tells me that he was with his brother last night. They discovered the treasure together. He was the last person to see his brother alive. Now I think that Thaddeus Sholto killed his brother. Then he ran off with the jewels.’

‘Oh no, it isn’t true!’ cried Thaddeus Sholto.

‘What about the poisoned thorn in the dead man’s skin?’ asked Holmes. ‘And the paper with the Sign of Four?’

‘The thorn belongs to Thaddeus Sholto,’ replied Jones quickly. ‘I don’t think the paper is very important. Perhaps it’s a trick. But wait a moment. What’s that up there? I see a hole in the ceiling. I must have a look.’

Inspector Jones went quickly up the steps. We heard him moving about noisily in the room above. Then he came down again. He was hot and dusty.

‘I know everything now,’ he cried. ‘I have found a door which leads out onto the roof. That was how Thaddeus Sholto escaped.’

‘But the footprints…’ began Holmes.

Inspector Jones was not listening. He had not noticed the tiny footprints. He turned to Thaddeus Sholto. The poor man was shaking with fear.

‘Mr Sholto,’ said Jones. ‘I arrest you for the murder of your brother.’

‘I didn’t do it!’ Thaddeus said. ‘Please, Mr Holmes, believe me!’

‘Don’t worry, Mr Sholto,’ said Holmes. ‘I know that you didn’t kill your brother. I will find the murderer.’

Inspector Jones turned to Holmes angrily.

‘Listen, Mr Holmes,’ he said. ‘This is a matter for the police. It has nothing to do with you. Goodnight, gentlemen.’

Inspector Jones and the policeman took Thaddeus Sholto away. A few minutes later the house was quiet again.


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