Table of Contents
‘The Sign of Four’ is one of the many crime fiction novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It deals with a case of hidden treasure and murder. Sherlock Holmes, the detective, is approached by a woman named Mary Morstan to solve the mystery. These initial chapters introduce the main conflict of the plot which involves a mystery that Holmes and Watson set out to solve.
Chapter II: The Statement of the Case
Narrated by Holmes’s companion Doctor Watson, this chapter opens with Mary Morstan approaching Holmes for help. She informs Holmes about a mysterious, unsigned letter she has received, which instructs her to meet its writer outside the Lyceum Theatre at seven in the evening. It asks Mary to bring two companions if she has any doubts or fears. The letter also promises that the meeting will be of advantage to Mary. On being inquired further, Mary reveals that her father, Captain Morstan, had disappeared ten years ago.
She details the mysterious circumstances under which her father had disappeared after his return from India. She also tells about a series of precious pearls that she has been receiving on the same day for last six years without the sender’s name. Holmes takes down Mary’s statement and he and Watson agree to accompany her to meet the person who has sent the pearls and the letter. Mary leaves and Watson remarks to Holmes that she is a beautiful woman. While Holmes sees Mary as another of his many clients, Dr Watson certainly finds her attractive.
Chapter III: In Quest of a Solution
This chapter begins with Holmes returning to his place after having done some research before setting out for his new case. Accompanied by Watson and Mary, he embarks on a drive to the place mentioned in the letter, where they are met by a servant. Upon Mary’s assurance that none of her two friends are policemen, the servant takes the three in a carriage to a less fashionable part of London.
Overcome by the gloomy weather and the apprehension of what awaits them, Watson and Mary grow uneasy and nervous. Holmes, however, remains attentive and his alertness enables him to keep a track of their location despite the darkness outside. The carriage halts outside a house and a servant with an Oriental persona opens the door. A voice, in grave urgency, instructs the servant to show the visitors straight to him.