The Sign of the Four (Annotated)

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The Sign of the Four (Annotated)

Thaddeus confirms the Major had seen Mary's father the night he died; they had arranged a meeting to divide a priceless treasure Sholto had brought home from India. While quarrelling over the treasure, Captain Morstan—long in weak health—suffered a heart attack. Not wanting to bring attention to the object of the quarrel—and also worried that circumstances would suggest that he had killed Morstan in an argument, particularly since Morstan's head struck the corner of the chest as he fell—Sholto disposed of the body and hid the treasure.


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However, he himself suffered from poor health and an enlarged spleen possibly due to malaria , as a quinine bottle stands by his bed. His own health became worse when he received a letter from India in early Dying, he called his two sons and confessed to Morstan's death and was about to divulge the location of the treasure when he suddenly cried, "Keep him out! The puzzled sons glimpsed a face in the window, but the only trace was a single footstep in the dirt.

On their father's body is a note reading "The Sign of the Four".

Characters

Both brothers quarrelled over whether a legacy should be left to Mary Morstan, and Thaddeus left his brother Bartholomew, taking a chaplet and sending its pearls to Mary. The reason he sent the letter is that Bartholomew has found the treasure and possibly Thaddeus and Mary might confront him for a division of it. Bartholomew is found dead in his home from a poison dart and the treasure is missing. While the police wrongly take Thaddeus in as a suspect, Holmes deduces that there are two persons involved in the murder: a one-legged man, Jonathan Small, as well as another "small" accomplice.

He traces them to a boat landing where Small has hired a steam launch named the Aurora. With the help of dog Toby that he sends Watson to collect from Mr. Sherman, the Baker Street Irregulars and his own disguise, Holmes traces the steam launch. In a police steam launch Holmes and Watson chase the Aurora and capture it, but in the process end up killing the "small" companion after he attempts to kill Holmes with a poisoned dart shot from a blow-pipe.

Small tries to escape but is captured. However, the iron treasure box is empty; Small claims to have dumped the treasure over the side during the chase.

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Small confesses that years before he was a soldier of the Third Buffs in India and lost his right leg in a swimming accident to a crocodile. After some time, when he was an overseer on a tea plantation , the Indian Rebellion of occurred and he was forced to flee for his life to the Agra fortress. While standing guard one night he was overpowered by two Sikh troopers, who gave him a choice of being killed or being an accomplice to waylaying a disguised servant of a Rajah who sent the servant with a valuable fortune in pearls and jewels to the British for safekeeping.

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The robbery and murder took place and the crime was discovered, although the jewels were not. Small got penal servitude on the Andaman Islands and, after 20 years, he overheard that John Sholto had lost much money gambling and cannot even sell his commission ; therefore, he will have to resign. Small saw his chance and made a deal with Sholto and Arthur Morstan: Sholto would recover the treasure and in return send a boat to pick up Small and the Sikhs. Sholto double-crossed both Morstan and Small and stole the treasure for himself-after inheriting a fortune from his uncle.

Small vowed vengeance and four years later escaped the Andaman Islands with an islander named Tonga after they both killed a prison guard. It was the news of his escape that shocked Sholto into his fatal illness. Small arrived too late to hear of the treasure's location, but left the note which referred to the name of the pact between himself and his three Sikh accomplices. Sherlock says this to Mary and Watson as he examines the letter Mary's father left in his desk.


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Though Mary is unsure of its importance, Sherlock is able to deduce several helpful facts from it, demonstrating his intellectual abilities yet again. Watson makes these observations about how he and his future wife met, marveling at how close and connected they were from the first day they met. In times of trouble, their hands instinctively joined, even though they hadn't spoken or gotten to know each other; somehow, they knew that they could depend on one another, and that this was the beginning of something bigger and better for the both of them.

What a lucky thing it is that we have had no very heavy rain since yesterday! The scent will lie upon the road in spite of their eight-and-twenty hours' start. Holmes says this to Watson, thereby showing that luck does play a role in his investigations. For all his deductive skills and intelligence, Holmes, like the rest of humanity, often is under the thumb of lady luck as well.

Sherlock Holmes Key Quotes and Analysis

She did not withdraw it. Because this treasure, these riches, sealed my lips. Now that they are gone I can tell you how I love you. That is why I said, 'Thank God. Whoever had lost a treasure, I knew that night that I had gained one. Afterpay now available. Book of the Month. Authors Tim Winton Sarah J.

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