48 Hours a Day

Chapter 490 - Baker Street Irregulars

Chapter 490 Baker Street Irregulars

The carriage stopped outside John’s textile factory.

Zhang Heng and Holmes got out of it and at that time, a man with a mouth full of rotten teeth and a sharp chin came up to them.

“Gentlemen, can I help you?” he asked.

“We’d like to go inside to look for someone,” said Holmes.

“I’m afraid that’s inappropriate. Everyone inside the factory is female and both of you are men…” The man shook his head, “That’s not right, that is not right.”

Holmes reached out to his pocket, took out a half-pound gold coin, and threw it into the man’s hand. “We just need a quarter of an hour.”

The latter frowned, pretending to be embarrassed.

Holmes did not bother playing along with his act. He was about to reach out and take the gold coin back when the man protested.

“Okay, okay, okay. The boss is not here today. I can find a way to help the two of you to get into the factory. But let me be clear. You only have a quarter of an hour. I can’t let you stay in there any longer,” said the man said and quickly pocketed the gold coin.

He then took the two into the textile factory.

Watt’s invention of the steam engine kickstarted the industrial revolution. The steam engine gradually replaced the water frame, and textile factories did not need to be built by the waterways anymore. Due to the fact that the John Textile Factory was founded a long time ago, it had never been relocated. It was still at its original site. Nonetheless, the equipment inside the factory had been upgraded over time.

This was Zhang Heng’s first time witnessing such a scene. The vast factory was full of machines. Pipelines were being set up under the ceiling, and the continuous belt spinning around the pulleys powered the sewing machines noisily. All the female workers wore hats and aprons, standing in front of the machines, and repeating the dull and tedious; it was repetitive and made them no different than a marionette. In this factory, there were no distinction between humans and machines. The man asked, “Who are you looking for? Maybe I can help you. I know everyone here.”

Holmes and Zhang Heng then exchanged glances. After that, Zhang Heng placed his arm on the man’s shoulder.

“To be honest with you, we actually want to open a textile factory. We are here to learn from yours!”

Immediately, the man became vigilant, “That won’t work! If you have told me about this earlier, I would never have let the two of you come in here!”

“Don’t be so sure,” Zhang Heng said, “We want to recruit a group of skilled workers. If you can help us, we can give you good money.”

The bloke was moved when he heard the offer.

“No, how can I betray Mr. Stotts! He put me up to this job, and he is a distant relative as well. I won’t do anything that would put him at a disadvantage.”

“If you do the job we give you well, you can expect a handsome amount of money entering your pockets,” Zhang Heng said, “more than enough for you to eat, drink and play for a long time.”

As the two chatted, Holmes quietly left the place.

Twenty minutes later, Zhang Heng and Holmes met up again outside the textile factory. The man escorted the two to the road and said excitedly, “I will make a list soon and make sure that all of them are honest and hardworking folk.”

“Sounds like a plan! We will come to you again after we determine the location,” said Zhang

Heng.

Seeing that the man was contented and had returned to the factory, Holmes spoke again. “Not bad. I was right about you wasn’t I? You were born to do this. With a bit of training, you will outsmart those idiots at Scotland Yard in no time!”

“How about you?”

Holmes chuckled twice, “I who the murderer is.”

“Oh? Who is it?”

“Don’t worry. I will announce the conclusion once I gather enough evidence. In a way, Gregson is right. Gathering not enough evidence and announcing out our deduction is a big taboo in our line of work. Once you preconceive that someone is the murderer, you will subconsciously ignore the evidence that is not conducive to your deduction. Gregson himself made such a mistake. He wholeheartedly believed that the kid named Paul killed Molly. All the evidence he collected was set to go against that kid.” Holmes paused. “The basis of deduction is observation. First of all, you’ll need to look for small and often overlooked details through extremely detailed observation. Every small detail is like a dot on white paper. When you can connect all of them, you will be able to find the answer you are looking for.”

“It happens that the chemical plant Paul works is right next door. Shall we have a look too?” asked Zhang Heng.

“It couldn’t be better,” said Holmes. “I’m looking for someone over there as well.”

The two then walked to the chemical factory. With men as their main workforce, rules here weren’t as tight as the textile factory. There was, however, still a supervisor watching over the factory. Holmes had to spend half a pound to chat with a few people in the factory about Paul. He touched his chin as he returned.

“Interesting.”

“How did it go?”

“Different people here have a completely different opinion of Paul, but this is actually quite normal. I expected this outcome. Gregson was here, and he asked the factory manager and concluded that Paul is an old man. He’s a troublemaker, lazy, insidious, and cunning. But when I asked his fellow workers, they spoke highly of him, saying that he has a good heart, always willing to help others, and stand up for anyone getting bullied… perhaps it is why the factory manager does not like him,” said Holmes.

“Where was he when the murder happened?” Zhang Heng asked. “That’s the problem. The chemical factory workers leave work half an hour later than the textile factory workers. After Paul’s shift ended, he went to look for Molly as usual. This is a well-known facy, but no one was with him during that time. Hence, he has no reliable alibi, but it still doesn’t matter. We will prove his innocence after we catch the murderer.”

“Where shall we go next?”

“We have completed all the investigations that we could do carry out. Let the Baker Street Irregulars do the rest,” said Holmes.

“Let’s go home.”

Zhang Heng was no stranger to the Baker Street Irregulars. The entire herd of urchins were dirty and smelly, to say the least, and Mrs. Hudson wasn’t pleased whenever they showed up. She would keep her eyes on them all the time, fearing that something would go missing in the living room.

Holmes took out three shillings to the leader of the group named Wiggins.

“Your carriage fees, I want you to keep an eye on the guy named Pearson who works at the Wood Chemical Plant. I want you to see what he does, then report back to me. Oh yes, come and see me alone the next time. Let the others wait outside, or Mrs. Hudson will put me on a stake.”

“Yes, Commander!” the group of children shouted while standing upright. After that, they were dismissed with a wide smile on their faces.

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