Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and curious incident of the dog in the nighttime hippodrome
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Published Date:04-07-2017
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Mark Haddon The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Mark Haddon The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time This book is dedicated to Sos With thanks to Kathryn Heyman, Clare Alexander, Kate Shaw and Dave Cohen 2. It was 7 minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs. Shears’s house. Its eyes were closed. It looked as if it was running on its side, the way dogs run when they think they are chasing a cat in a dream. But the dog was not running or asleep. The dog was dead. There was a garden fork sticking out of the dog. The points of the fork must have gone all the way through the dog and into the ground because the fork had not fallen over. I decided that the dog was probably killed with the fork because I could not see any other wounds in the dog and I do not think you would stick a garden fork into a dog after it had died for some other reason, like cancer, for example, or a road accident. But I could not be certain about this. I went through Mrs. Shears’s gate, closing it behind me. I walked onto her lawn and knelt beside the dog. I put my hand on the muzzle of the dog. It was still warm. The dog was called Wellington. It belonged to Mrs. Shears, who was our friend. She lived on the opposite side of the road, two houses to the left. Wellington was a poodle. Not one of the small poodles that have hairstyles but a big poodle. It had curly black fur, but when you got close you could see that the skin underneath the fur was a very pale yellow, like chicken. I stroked Wellington and wondered who had killed him, and why. 3. My name is Christopher John Francis Boone. I know all the countries of the world and their capital cities and every prime number up to 7,057. Eight years ago, when I first met Siobhan, she showed me this picture and I knew that it meant “sad,” which is what I felt when I found the dead dog. Then she showed me this picture and I knew that it meant “happy,” like when I’m reading about the Apollo space missions, or when I am still awake at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. in the morning and I can walk up and down the street and pretend that I am the only person in the whole world. Then she drew some other pictures but I was unable to say what these meant. I got Siobhan to draw lots of these faces and then write down next to them exactly what they meant. I kept the piece of paper in my pocket and took it out when I didn’t understand what someone was saying. But it was very difficult to decide which of the diagrams was most like the face they were making because people’s faces move very quickly. When I told Siobhan that I was doing this, she got out a pencil and another piece of paper and said it probably made people feel very and then she laughed. So I tore the original piece of paper up and threw it away. And Siobhan apologized. And now if I don’t know what someone is saying, I ask them what they mean or I walk away. 5. I pulled the fork out of the dog and lifted him into my arms and hugged him. He was leaking blood from the fork holes. I like dogs. You always know what a dog is thinking. It has four moods. Happy, sad, cross and concentrating. Also, dogs are faithful and they do not tell lies because they cannot talk. I had been hugging the dog for 4 minutes when I heard screaming. I looked up and saw Mrs. Shears running toward me from the patio. She was wearing pajamas and a housecoat. Her toenails were painted bright pink and she had no shoes on. She was shouting, “What in fuck’s name have you done to my dog?” I do not like people shouting at me. It makes me scared that they are going to hit me or touch me and I do not know what is going to happen. “Let go of the dog,” she shouted. “Let go of the fucking dog for Christ’s sake.” I put the dog down on the lawn and moved back 2 meters. She bent down. I thought she was going to pick the dog up herself, but she didn’t. Perhaps she noticed how much blood there was and didn’t want to get dirty. Instead she started screaming again. I put my hands over my ears and closed my eyes and rolled forward till I was hunched up with my forehead pressed onto the grass. The grass was wet and cold. It was nice. 7. This is a murder mystery novel. Siobhan said that I should write something I would want to read myself. Mostly I read books about science and maths. I do not like proper novels. In proper novels people say things like, “I am veined with iron, with silver and with streaks of common mud. I cannot contract into the firm fist 1 which those clench who do not depend on stimulus.” What does this mean? I do not know. Nor does Father. Nor does Siobhan or Mr. Jeavons. I have asked them. Siobhan has long blond hair and wears glasses which are made of green plastic. And Mr. Jeavons smells of soap and wears brown shoes that have approximately 60 tiny circular holes in each of them. But I do like murder mystery novels. So I am writing a murder mystery novel. In a murder mystery novel someone has to work out who the murderer is and then catch them. It is a puzzle. If it is a good puzzle you can sometimes work out the answer before the end of the book. Siobhan said that the book should begin with something to grab people’s attention. That is why I started with the dog. I also started with the dog because it happened to me and I find it hard to imagine things which did not happen to me. Siobhan read the first page and said that it was different. She put this word into inverted commas by making the wiggly quotation sign with her first and second fingers. She said that it was usually people who were killed in murder mystery novels. I said that two dogs were killed in The Hound of the Baskervilles, the hound itself and James Mortimer’s spaniel, but Siobhan said they weren’t the victims of the murder, Sir Charles Baskerville was. She said that this was because readers cared more about people than dogs, so if a person was killed in a book, readers would want 1 I found this in a book when Mother took me into the library in town in 1996. to carry on reading. I said that I wanted to write about something real and I knew people who had died but I did not know any people who had been killed, except Mr. Paulson, Edward’s father from school, and that was a gliding accident, not murder, and I didn’t really know him. I also said that I cared about dogs because they were faithful and honest, and some dogs were cleverer and more interesting than some people. Steve, for example, who comes to the school on Thursdays, needs help to eat his food and could not even fetch a stick. Siobhan asked me not to say this to Steve’s mother. 11. Then the police arrived. I like the police. They have uniforms and numbers and you know what they are meant to be doing. There was a policewoman and a policeman. The policewoman had a little hole in her tights on her left ankle and a red scratch in the middle of the hole. The policeman had a big orange leaf stuck to the bottom of his shoe which was poking out from one side. The policewoman put her arms round Mrs. Shears and led her back toward the house. I lifted my head off the grass. The policeman squatted down beside me and said, “Would you like to tell me what’s going on here, young man?” I sat up and said, “The dog is dead.” “I’d got that far,” he said. I said, “I think someone killed the dog.” “How old are you?” he asked. I replied, “I am 15 years and 3 months and 2 days.” “And what, precisely, were you doing in the garden?” he asked. “I was holding the dog,” I replied. “And why were you holding the dog?” he asked. This was a difficult question. It was something I wanted to do. I like dogs. It made me sad to see that the dog was dead. I like policemen, too, and I wanted to answer the question properly, but the policeman did not give me enough time to work out the correct answer. “Why were you holding the dog?” he asked again. “I like dogs,” I said. “Did you kill the dog?” he asked. I said, “I did not kill the dog.” “Is this your fork?” he asked. I said, “No.” “You seem very upset about this,” he said. He was asking too many questions and he was asking them too quickly. They were stacking up in my head like loaves in the factory where Uncle Terry works. The factory is a bakery and he operates the slicing machines. And sometimes a slicer is not working fast enough but the bread keeps coming and there is a blockage. I sometimes think of my mind as a machine, but not always as a bread-slicing machine. It makes it easier to explain to other people what is going on inside it. The policeman said, “I am going to ask you once again…” I rolled back onto the lawn and pressed my forehead to the ground again and made the noise that Father calls groaning. I make this noise when there is too much information coming into my head from the outside world. It is like when you are upset and you hold the radio against your ear and you tune it halfway between two stations so that all you get is white noise and then you turn the volume right up so that this is all you can hear and then you know you are safe because you cannot hear anything else. The policeman took hold of my arm and lifted me onto my feet. I didn’t like him touching me like this. And this is when I hit him. 13. This will not be a funny book. I cannot tell jokes because I do not understand them. Here is a joke, as an example. It is one of Father’s. His face was drawn but the curtains were real. I know why this is meant to be funny. I asked. It is because drawn has three meanings, and they are (1) drawn with a pencil, (2) exhausted, and (3) pulled across a window, and meaning 1 refers to both the face and the curtains, meaning 2 refers only to the face, and meaning 3 refers only to the curtains. If I try to say the joke to myself, making the word mean the three different things at the same time, it is like hearing three different pieces of music at the same time, which is uncomfortable and confusing and not nice like white noise. It is like three people trying to talk to you at the same time about different things. And that is why there are no jokes in this book. 17. The policeman looked at me for a while without speaking. Then he said, “I am arresting you for assaulting a police officer.” This made me feel a lot calmer because it is what policemen say on television and in films. Then he said, “I strongly advise you to get into the back of the police car, because if you try any of that monkey business again, you little shit, I will seriously lose my rag. Is that understood?” I walked over to the police car, which was parked just outside the gate. He opened the back door and I got inside. He climbed into the driver’s seat and made a call on his radio to the policewoman, who was still inside the house. He said, “The little bugger just had a pop at me, Kate. Can you hang on with Mrs. S. while I drop him off at the station? I'll get Tony to swing by and pick you up.” And she said, “Sure. I'll catch you later.” The policeman said, “Okeydoke,” and we drove off. The police car smelled of hot plastic and aftershave and take-away chips. I watched the sky as we drove toward the town center. It was a clear night and you could see the Milky Way. Some people think the Milky Way is a long line of stars, but it isn’t. Our galaxy is a huge disk of stars millions of light-years across, and the solar system is somewhere near the outside edge of the disk. When you look in direction A, at 90° to the disk, you don’t see many stars. But when you look in direction B, you see lots more stars because you are looking into the main body of the galaxy, and because the galaxy is a disk you see a stripe of stars. And then I thought about how for a long time scientists were puzzled by the fact that the sky is dark at night, even though there are billions of stars in the universe and there must be stars in every direction you look, so that the sky should be full of starlight because there is very little in the way to stop the light from reaching earth. Then they worked out that the universe was expanding, that the stars were all rushing away from one another after the Big Bang, and the further the stars were away from us the faster they were moving, some of them nearly as fast as the speed of light, which was why their light never reached us. I like this fact. It is something you can work out in your own mind just by looking at the sky above your head at night and thinking without having to ask anyone. And when the universe has finished exploding, all the stars will slow down, like a ball that has been thrown into the air, and they will come to a halt and they will all begin to fall toward the center of the universe again. And then there will be nothing to stop us from seeing all the stars in the world because they will all be moving toward us, gradually faster and faster, and we will know that the world is going to end soon because when we look up into the sky at night there will be no darkness, just the blazing light of billions and billions of stars, all falling. Except that no one will see this because there will be no people left on the earth to see it. They will probably have become extinct by then. And even if there are people still in existence, they will not see it because the light will be so bright and hot that everyone will be burned to death, even if they live in tunnels. 19. Chapters in books are usually given the cardinal numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and so on. But I have decided to give my chapters prime numbers 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13 and so on because I like prime numbers. This is how you work out what prime numbers are. First you write down all the positive whole numbers in the world. Then you take away all the numbers that are multiples of 2. Then you take away all the numbers that are multiples of 3. Then you take away all the numbers that are multiples of 4 and 5 and 6 and 7 and so on. The numbers that are left are the prime numbers. The rule for working out prime numbers is really simple, but no one has ever worked out a simple formula for telling you whether a very big number is a prime number or what the next one will be. If a number is really, really big, it can take a computer years to work out whether it is a prime number. Prime numbers are useful for writing codes and in America they are classed as Military Material and if you find one over 100 digits long you have to tell the CIA and they buy it off you for 10,000. But it would not be a very good way of making a living. Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them. 23. When I got to the police station they made me take the laces out of my shoes and empty my pockets at the front desk in case I had anything in them that I could use to kill myself or escape or attack a policeman with. The sergeant behind the desk had very hairy hands and he had bitten his nails so much that they had bled. This is what I had in my pockets: 1. A Swiss Army knife with 15 attachments including a wire stripper and a saw and a toothpick and tweezers 2. A piece of string 3. A piece of a wooden puzzle which looked like this 4. 3 pellets of rat food for Toby, my rat 5. £1.47 (this was made up of a £1 coin, a 20p coin, two 10p coins, a 5p coin and a 2p coin) 6. A red paper clip 7. A key for the front door I was also wearing my watch and they wanted me to leave this at the desk as well but I said that I needed to keep my watch on because I needed to know exactly what time it was. And when they tried to take it off me I screamed, so they let me keep it on. They asked me if I had any family. I said I did. They asked me who my family was. I said it was Father, but Mother was dead. And I said it was also Uncle Terry, but he was in Sunderland and he was Father’s brother, and it was my grandparents, too, but three of them were dead and Grandma Burton was in a home because she had senile dementia and thought that I was someone on television. Then they asked me for Father’s phone number. I told them that he had two numbers, one for at home and one which was a mobile phone, and I said both of them. It was nice in the police cell. It was almost a perfect cube, 2 meters long by 2 meters wide by 2 meters high. It contained approximately 8 cubic meters of air. It had a small window with bars and, on the opposite side, a metal door with a long, thin hatch near the floor for sliding trays of food into the cell and a sliding hatch higher up so that policemen could look in and check that prisoners hadn’t escaped or committed suicide. There was also a padded bench. I wondered how I would escape if I was in a story. It would be difficult because the only things I had were my clothes and my shoes, which had no laces in them. I decided that my best plan would be to wait for a really sunny day and then use my glasses to focus the sunlight on a piece of my clothing and start a fire. I would then make my escape when they saw the smoke and took me out of the cell. And if they didn’t notice I would be able to wee on the clothes and put them out. I wondered whether Mrs. Shears had told the police that I had killed Wellington and whether, when the police found out that she had lied, she would go to prison. Because telling lies about people is called slander. 29. I find people confusing. This is for two main reasons. The first main reason is that people do a lot of talking without using any words. Siobhan says that if you raise one eyebrow it can mean lots of different things. It can mean “I want to do sex with you” and it can also mean “I think that what you just said was very stupid.” Siobhan also says that if you close your mouth and breathe out loudly through your nose, it can mean that you are relaxed, or that you are bored, or that you are angry, and it all depends on how much air comes out of your nose and how fast and what shape your mouth is when you do it and how you are sitting and what you said just before and hundreds of other things which are too complicated to work out in a few seconds. The second main reason is that people often talk using metaphors. These are examples of metaphors: I laughed my socks off. He was the apple of her eye. They had a skeleton in the cupboard. We had a real pig of a day. The dog was stone dead. The word metaphor means carrying something from one place to another, and it comes from the Greek words μετα (which means from one place to another) and φερειυ (which means to carry), and it is when you describe something by using a word for something that it isn’t. This means that the word metaphor is a metaphor. I think it should be called a lie because a pig is not like a day and people do not have skeletons in their cupboards. And when I try and make a picture of the phrase in my head it just confuses me because imagining an apple in someone’s eye doesn’t have anything to do with liking someone a lot and it makes you forget what the person was talking about. My name is a metaphor. It means carrying Christ and it comes from the Greek words χριστος (which means Jesus Christ ) and φερειυ and it was the name given to St. Christopher because he carried Jesus Christ across a river. This makes you wonder what he was called before he carried Christ across the river. But he wasn’t called anything because this is an apocryphal story, which means that it is a lie, too. Mother used to say that it meant Christopher was a nice name because it was a story about being kind and helpful, but I do not want my name to mean a story about being kind and helpful. I want my name to mean me. 31. It was 1:12 a.m. when Father arrived at the police station. I did not see him until 1:28 a.m. but I knew he was there because I could hear him. He was shouting, “I want to see my son,” and “Why the hell is he locked up?” and “Of course I’m bloody angry.” Then I heard a policeman telling him to calm down. Then I heard nothing for a long while. At 1:28 a.m. a policeman opened the door of the cell and told me that there was someone to see me. I stepped outside. Father was standing in the corridor. He held up his right hand and spread his fingers out in a fan. I held up my left hand and spread my fingers out in a fan and we made our fingers and thumbs touch each other. We do this because sometimes Father wants to give me a hug, but I do not like hugging people so we do this instead, and it means that he loves me. Then the policeman told us to follow him down the corridor to another room. In the room was a table and three chairs. He told us to sit down on the far side of the table and he sat down on the other side. There was a tape recorder on the table and I asked whether I was going to be interviewed and he was going to record the interview. He said, “I don’t think there will be any need for that.” He was an inspector. I could tell because he wasn’t wearing a uniform. He also had a very 2 hairy nose. It looked as if there were two very small mice hiding in his nostrils. He said, “I have spoken to your father and he says that you didn’t mean to hit the policeman.” I didn’t say anything because this wasn’t a question. He said, “Did you mean to hit the policeman?” I said, “Yes.” He squeezed his face and said, “But you didn’t mean to hurt the policeman?” I thought about this and said, “No. I didn’t mean to hurt the policeman. I just wanted him to stop touching me.” Then he said, “You know that it is wrong to hit a policeman, don’t you?” I said, “I do.” He was quiet for a few seconds, then he asked, “Did you kill the dog, Christopher?” I said, “I didn’t kill the dog.” He said, “Do you know that it is wrong to lie to a policeman and that you can get into a very great deal of trouble if you do?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “So, do you know who killed the dog?” I said, “No.” He said, “Are you telling the truth?” I said, “Yes. I always tell the truth.” And he said, “Right. I am going to give you a caution.” I asked, “Is that going to be on a piece of paper like a certificate I can keep?” He replied, “No, a caution means that we are going to keep a record of what you did, that you hit a policeman but that it was an accident and that you didn’t mean to hurt the policeman.” I said, “But it wasn’t an accident.” And Father said, “Christopher, please.” The policeman closed his mouth and breathed out loudly through his nose and said, “If you get into any more trouble we will take out this record and see that you have been given a caution and we will take things much more seriously. Do you understand what I’m saying?” I said that I understood. Then he said that we could go and he stood up and opened the door and we walked out into the corridor and back to the front desk, where I picked up my Swiss Army knife and my piece of string and the piece of the wooden puzzle and the 5 pellets of rat food for Toby and my £1.47 and the paper clip and my front door key, which were all in a little plastic bag, and we went out to Father’s car, which was parked outside, and we drove home. 37. I do not tell lies. Mother used to say that this was because I was a good person. But it is 2 This is not a metaphor, it is a simile, which means that it really did look like there were two very small mice hiding in his nostrils, and if you make a picture in your head of a man with two very small mice hiding in his nostrils, you will know what the police inspector looked like. And a simile is not a lie, unless it is a bad simile. not because I am a good person. It is because I can’t tell lies. Mother was a small person who smelled nice. And she sometimes wore a fleece with a zip down the front which was pink and it had a tiny label which said Berghaus on the left bosom. A lie is when you say something happened which didn’t happen. But there is only ever one thing which happened at a particular time and a particular place. And there are an infinite number of things which didn’t happen at that time and that place. And if I think about something which didn’t happen I start thinking about all the other things which didn’t happen. For example, this morning for breakfast I had Ready Brek and some hot raspberry milk shake. 3 But if I say that I actually had Shreddies and a mug of tea I start thinking about Coco Pops and lemonade and porridge and Dr Pepper and how I wasn’t eating my breakfast in Egypt and there wasn’t a rhinoceros in the room and Father wasn’t wearing a diving suit and so on and even writing this makes me feel shaky and scared, like I do when I’m standing on the top of a very tall building and there are thousands of houses and cars and people below me and my head is so full of all these things that I’m afraid that I’m going to forget to stand up straight and hang on to the rail and I’m going to fall over and be killed. This is another reason why I don’t like proper novels, because they are lies about things which didn’t happen and they make me feel shaky and scared. And this is why everything I have written here is true. 41. There were clouds in the sky on the way home, so I couldn’t see the Milky Way. I said, “I’m sorry,” because Father had had to come to the police station, which was a bad thing. He said, “It’s OK.” I said, “I didn’t kill the dog.” And he said, “I know.” Then he said, “Christopher, you have to stay out of trouble, OK?” I said, “I didn’t know I was going to get into trouble. I like Wellington and I went to say hello to him, but I didn’t know that someone had killed him.” Father said, “Just try and keep your nose out of other people’s business.” I thought for a little and I said, “I am going to find out who killed Wellington.” And Father said, “Were you listening to what I was saying, Christopher?” I said, “Yes, I was listening to what you were saying, but when someone gets murdered you have to find out who did it so that they can be punished.” And he said, “It’s a bloody dog, Christopher, a bloody dog.” I replied, “I think dogs are important, too.” He said, “Leave it.” And I said, “I wonder if the police will find out who killed him and punish the person.” Then Father banged the steering wheel with his fist and the car weaved a little bit across the dotted line in the middle of the road and he shouted, “I said leave it, for God’s sake.” I could tell that he was angry because he was shouting, and I didn’t want to make him angry so I didn’t say anything else until we got home. When we came in through the front door I went into the kitchen and got a carrot for Toby and I went upstairs and I shut the door of my room and I let Toby out and gave him the carrot. Then I turned my computer on and played 76 games of Minesweeper and did the Expert Version in 102 seconds, which was only 3 seconds off my best time, which was 99 seconds. At 2:07 a.m. I decided that I wanted a drink of orange squash before I brushed my teeth and got into bed, so I went downstairs to the kitchen. Father was sitting on the sofa watching snooker on the television and drinking scotch. There were tears coming out of his eyes. I asked, “Are you sad about Wellington?” 3 But I wouldn’t have Shreddies and tea because they are both brown. He looked at me for a long time and sucked air in through his nose. Then he said, “Yes, Christopher, you could say that. You could very well say that.” I decided to leave him alone because when I am sad I want to be left alone. So I didn’t say anything else. I just went into the kitchen and made my orange squash and took it back upstairs to my room. 43. Mother died 2 years ago. I came home from school one day and no one answered the door, so I went and found the secret key that we keep under a flowerpot behind the kitchen door. I let myself into the house and carried on making the Airfix Sherman tank model I was building. An hour and a half later Father came home from work. He runs a business and he does heating maintenance and boiler repair with a man called Rhodri who is his employee. He knocked on the door of my room and opened it and asked whether I had seen Mother. I said that I hadn’t seen her and he went downstairs and started making some phone calls. I did not hear what he said. Then he came up to my room and said he had to go out for a while and he wasn’t sure how long he would be. He said that if I needed anything I should call him on his mobile phone. He was away for 2½ hours. When he came back I went downstairs. He was sitting in the kitchen staring out of the back window down the garden to the pond and the corrugated iron fence and the top of the tower of the church on Manstead Street which looks like a castle because it is Norman. Father said, “I’m afraid you won’t be seeing your mother for a while.” He didn’t look at me when he said this. He kept on looking through the window. Usually people look at you when they’re talking to you. I know that they’re working out what I’m thinking, but I can’t tell what they’re thinking. It is like being in a room with a one-way mirror in a spy film. But this was nice, having Father speak to me but not look at me. I said, “Why not?” He waited for a very long time, then he said, “Your mother has had to go into hospital.” “Can we visit her?” I asked, because I like hospitals. I like the uniforms and the machines. Father said, “No.” I said, “Why can’t we?” And he said, “She needs rest. She needs to be on her own.” I asked, “Is it a psychiatric hospital?” And Father said, “No. It’s an ordinary hospital. She has a problem… a problem with her heart.” I said, “We will need to take food to her,” because I knew that food in hospital was not very good. David from school, he went into hospital to have an operation on his leg to make his calf muscle longer so that he could walk better. And he hated the food, so his mother used to take meals in every day. Father waited for a long time again and said, “I’ll take some in to her during the day when you’re at school and I’ll give it to the doctors and they can give it to your mum, OK?” I said, “But you can’t cook.” Father put his hands over his face and said, “Christopher. Look. I’ll buy some ready-made stuff from Marks and Spencer’s and take those in. She likes those.” I said I would make her a Get Well card, because that is what you do for people when they are in hospital. Father said he would take it in the next day. 47. In the bus on the way to school next morning we passed 4 red cars in a row, which meant that it was a Good Day, so I decided not to be sad about Wellington. Mr. Jeavons, the psychologist at the school, once asked me why 4 red cars in a row made it a Good Day, and 3 red cars in a row made it a Quite Good Day, and 5 red cars in a row made it a Super Good Day, and why 4 yellow cars in a row made it a Black Day, which is a day when I don’t speak to anyone and sit on my own reading books and don’t eat my lunch and Take No Risks. He said that I was clearly a very logical person, so he was surprised that I should think like this because it wasn’t very logical. I said that I liked things to be in a nice order. And one way of things being in a nice order was to be logical. Especially if those things were numbers or an argument. But there were other ways of putting things in a nice order. And that was why I had Good Days and Black Days. And I said that some people who worked in an office came out of their house in the morning and saw that the sun was shining and it made them feel happy, or they saw that it was raining and it made them feel sad, but the only difference was the weather and if they worked in an office the weather didn’t have anything to do with whether they had a good day or a bad day. I said that when Father got up in the morning he always put his trousers on before he put his socks on and it wasn’t logical but he always did it that way, because he liked things in a nice order, too. Also whenever he went upstairs he went up two at a time, always starting with his right foot. Mr. Jeavons said that I was a very clever boy. I said that I wasn’t clever. I was just noticing how things were, and that wasn’t clever. That was just being observant. Being clever was when you looked at how things were and used the evidence to work out something new. Like the universe expanding, or who committed a murder. Or if you see someone’s name and you give each letter a value from 1 to 26 (a = 1 , b = 2 , etc.) and you add the numbers up in your head and you find that it makes a prime number, like Jesus Christ (151), or Scooby-Doo (113), or Sherlock Holmes (163), or Doctor Watson (167). Mr. Jeavons asked me whether this made me feel safe, having things always in a nice order, and I said it did. Then he asked if I didn’t like things changing. And I said I wouldn’t mind things changing if I became an astronaut, for example, which is one of the biggest changes you can imagine, apart from becoming a girl or dying. He asked whether I wanted to become an astronaut and I said I did. He said that it was very difficult to become an astronaut. I said that I knew. You had to become an officer in the air force and you had to take lots of orders and be prepared to kill other human beings, and I couldn’t take orders. Also I didn’t have 20/20 vision, which you needed to be a pilot. But I said that you could still want something that is very unlikely to happen. Terry, who is the older brother of Francis, who is at the school, said I would only ever get a job collecting supermarket trollies or cleaning out donkey shit at an animal sanctuary and they didn’t let spazzers drive rockets that cost billions of pounds. When I told this to Father he said that Terry was jealous of my being cleverer than him. Which was a stupid thing to think because we weren’t in a competition. But Terry is stupid, so quod erat demonstrandum, which is Latin for which is the thing that was going to be proved, which means thus it is proved. I’m not a spazzer, which means spastic, not like Francis, who is a spazzer, and even though I probably won’t become an astronaut, I am going to go to university and study mathematics, or physics, or physics and mathematics (which is a Joint Honor School), because I like mathematics and physics and I’m very good at them. But Terry won’t go to university. Father says Terry is most likely to end up in prison. Terry has a tattoo on his arm of a heart shape with a knife through the middle of it. But this is what is called a digression, and now I am going to go back to the fact that it was a Good Day. Because it was a Good Day I decided that I would try and find out who killed Wellington because a Good Day is a day for projects and planning things. When I said this to Siobhan she said, “Well, we’re meant to be writing stories today, so why don’t you write about finding Wellington and going to the police station.” And that is when I started writing this. And Siobhan said that she would help with the spelling and the grammar and the footnotes. 53. Mother died two weeks later. I had not been into hospital to see her but Father had taken in lots of food from Marks and Spencer’s. He said that she had been looking OK and seemed to be getting better. She had sent me lots of love and had my Get Well card on the table beside her bed. Father said that she liked it very much. The card had pictures of cars on the front. It looked like this: I did it at school with Mrs. Peters, who does art, and it was a lino cut, which is when you draw a picture on a piece of lino and Mrs. Peters cuts round the picture with a Stanley knife and then you put ink on the lino and press it onto the paper, which is why all the cars looked the same, because I did one car and pressed it onto the paper 9 times. And it was Mrs. Peters’s idea to do lots of cars, which I liked. And I colored all the cars in with red paint to make it a Super Super Good Day for Mother. Father said that she died of a heart attack and it wasn’t expected. I said, “What kind of heart attack?” because I was surprised. Mother was only 38 years old and heart attacks usually happen to older people, and Mother was very active and rode a bicycle and ate food which was healthy and high in fiber and low in saturated fat like chicken and vegetables and muesli. Father said that he didn’t know what kind of heart attack she had and now wasn’t the moment to be asking questions like that. I said that it was probably an aneurysm . A heart attack is when some of the muscles in the heart stop getting blood and die. There are two main types of heart attack. The first is an embolism . That is when a blood clot blocks one of the blood vessels taking blood to the muscles in the heart. And you can stop this from happening by taking aspirin and eating fish. Which is why Eskimos don’t get this sort of heart attack, because they eat fish and fish stops their blood from clotting, but if they cut themselves badly they can bleed to death. But an aneurysm is when a blood vessel breaks and the blood doesn’t get to the heart muscles because it is leaking. And some people get aneurysms just because there is a weak bit in their blood vessels, like Mrs. Hardisty, who lived at number 72 in our street, who had a weak bit in the blood vessels in her neck and died just because she turned her head round to reverse her car into a parking space. On the other hand, it could have been an embolism, because your blood clots much more easily when you are lying down for a long time, like when you are in hospital. Father said, “I’m sorry, Christopher, I’m really sorry.” But it wasn’t his fault. Then Mrs. Shears came over and cooked supper for us. And she was wearing sandals and jeans and a T-shirt which had the words WINDSURF and CORFU and a picture of a windsurfer on it. And Father was sitting down and she stood next to him and held his head against her bosoms and said, “Come on, Ed. We’re going to get you through this.” And then she made us spaghetti and tomato sauce. And after dinner she played Scrabble with me and I beat her 247 points to 134. 59. I decided that I was going to find out who killed Wellington even though Father had told me to stay out of other people’s business. This is because I do not always do what I am told. And this is because when people tell you what to do it is usually confusing and does not make sense. For example, people often say “Be quiet,” but they don’t tell you how long to be quiet for. Or you see a sign which says KEEP OFF THE GRASS but it should say KEEP OFF THE GRASS AROUND THIS SIGN or KEEP OFF ALL THE GRASS IN THIS PARK because there is lots of grass you are allowed to walk on. Also people break rules all the time. For example, Father often drives at over 30 mph in a 30 mph zone and sometimes he drives when he has been drinking and often he doesn’t wear his seat belt when he is driving his van. And in the Bible it says Thou shall not kill but there were the Crusades and two world wars and the Gulf War and there were Christians killing people in all of them. Also I don’t know what Father means when he says “Stay out of other people’s business” because I do not know what he means by “other people’s business” because I do lots of things with other people, at school and in the shop and on the bus, and his job is going into other people’s houses and fixing their boilers and their heating. And all of these things are other people’s business. Siobhan understands. When she tells me not to do something she tells me exactly what it is that I am not allowed to do. And I like this. For example, she once said, “You must never punch Sarah or hit her in any way, Christopher. Even if she hits you first. If she does hit you again, move away from her and stand still and count from 1 to 50, then come and tell me what she has done, or tell one of the other members of staff what she has done.” Or, for example, she once said, “If you want to go on the swings and there are already people on the swings, you must never push them off. You must ask them if you can have a go. And then you must wait until they have finished.” But when other people tell you what you can’t do they don’t do it like this. So I decide for myself what I am going to do and what I am not going to do. That evening I went round to Mrs. Shears’s house and knocked on the door and waited for her to answer it. When she opened the door she was holding a mug of tea and she was wearing sheepskin slippers and she had been watching a quiz program on the television because there was a television on and I could hear someone saying, “The capital city of Venezuela is… (a) Maracas, (b) Caracas, (c) Bogota or (d) Georgetown.” And I knew that it was Caracas. She said, “Christopher, I really don’t think I want to see you right now.” I said, “I didn’t kill Wellington.” And she replied, “What are you doing here?” I said, “I wanted to come and tell you that I didn’t kill Wellington. And also I want to find out who killed him.” Some of her tea spilled onto the carpet. I said, “Do you know who killed Wellington?” She didn’t answer my question. She just said, “Goodbye, Christopher,” and closed the door. Then I decided to do some detective work. I could see that she was watching me and waiting for me to leave because I could see her standing in her hall on the other side of the frosted glass in her front door. So I walked down the path and out of the garden. Then I turned round and saw that she wasn’t standing in her hall any longer. I made sure that there was no one watching and climbed over the wall and walked down the side of the house into her back garden to the shed where she kept all her gardening tools. The shed was locked with a padlock and I couldn’t go inside so I walked round to the window in the side. Then I had some good luck. When I looked through the window I could see a fork that looked exactly the same as the fork that had been sticking out of Wellington. It was lying on the bench by the window and it had been cleaned because there was no blood on the spikes. I could see some other tools as well, a spade and a rake and one of those long clippers people use for cutting branches which are too high to reach. And they all had the same green plastic handles like the fork. This meant that the fork belonged to Mrs. Shears. Either that or it was a Red Herring, which is a clue which makes you come to a wrong conclusion or something which looks like a clue but isn’t. I wondered if Mrs. Shears had killed Wellington herself. But if she had killed Wellington herself, why had she come out of the house shouting, “What in fuck’s name have you done to my dog?” I thought that Mrs. Shears probably didn’t kill Wellington. But whoever had killed him had probably killed him with Mrs. Shears’s fork. And the shed was locked. This meant that it was someone who had the key to Mrs. Shears’s shed, or that she had left it unlocked, or that she had left her fork lying around in the garden. I heard a noise and turned round and saw Mrs. Shears standing on the lawn looking at me. I said, “I came to see if the fork was in the shed.” And she said, “If you don’t go now I will call the police again.” So I went home. When I got home I said hello to Father and went upstairs and fed Toby, my rat, and felt happy because I was being a detective and finding things out. 61. Mrs. Forbes at school said that when Mother died she had gone to heaven. That was because Mrs. Forbes is very old and she believes in heaven. And she wears tracksuit trousers because she says that they are more comfortable than normal trousers. And one of her legs is very slightly shorter than the other one because of an accident on a motorbike. But when Mother died she didn’t go to heaven because heaven doesn’t exist. Mrs. Peters’s husband is a vicar called the Reverend Peters, and he comes to our school sometimes to talk to us, and I asked him where heaven was and he said, “It’s not in our universe. It’s another kind of place altogether.” The Reverend Peters makes a funny ticking noise with his tongue sometimes when he is thinking. And he smokes cigarettes and you can smell them on his breath and I don’t like this. I said that there wasn’t anything outside the universe and there wasn’t another kind of place altogether. Except that there might be if you went through a black hole, but a black hole is what is called a singularity, which means it is impossible to find out what is on the other side because the gravity of a black hole is so big that even electromagnetic waves like light can’t get out of it, and electromagnetic waves are how we get information about things which are far away. And if heaven was on the other side of a black hole, dead people would have to be fired into space on rockets to get there, and they aren’t or people would notice. I think people believe in heaven because they don’t like the idea of dying, because they want to carry on living and they don’t like the idea that other people will move into their house and put their things into the rubbish. The Reverend Peters said, “Well, when I say that heaven is outside the universe it’s really just a manner of speaking. I suppose what it really means is that they are with God.” And I replied, “But where is God?” And the Reverend Peters said that we should talk about this on another day when he had more time. What actually happens when you die is that your brain stops working and your body rots, like Rabbit did when he died and we buried him in the earth at the bottom of the garden. And all his molecules were broken down into other molecules and they went into the earth and were eaten by worms and went into the plants and if we go and dig in the same place in 10 years there will be nothing except his skeleton left. And in 1,000 years even his skeleton will be gone. But that is all right because he is a part of the flowers and the apple tree and the hawthorn bush now. When people die they are sometimes put into coffins, which means that they don’t mix with the earth for a very long time until the wood of the coffin rots. But Mother was cremated. This means that she was put into a coffin and burned and ground up and turned into ash and smoke. I do not know what happens to the ash and I couldn’t ask at the crematorium because I didn’t go to the funeral. But the smoke goes out of the chimney and into the air and sometimes I look up into the sky and I think that there are molecules of Mother up there, or in clouds over Africa or the Antarctic, or coming down as rain in the rain forests in Brazil, or in snow somewhere. 67. The next day was Saturday and there is not much to do on a Saturday unless Father takes me out somewhere on an outing to the boating lake or to the garden center, but on this Saturday England were playing Romania at football, which meant that we weren’t going to go on an outing because Father wanted to watch the match on the television. So I decided to do some more detection on my own. I decided that I would go and ask some of the other people who lived in our street if they had seen anyone killing Wellington or whether they had seen anything strange happening in the street on Thursday night. Talking to strangers is not something I usually do. I do not like talking to strangers. This is not because of Stranger Danger, which they tell us about at school, which is where a strange man offers you sweets or a ride in his car because he wants to do sex with you. I am not worried about that. If a strange man touched me I would hit him, and I can hit people very hard. For example, when I punched Sarah because she had pulled my hair I knocked her unconscious and she had concussion and they had to take her to the Accident and Emergency Department at the hospital. And also I always have my Swiss Army knife in my pocket and it has a saw blade which could cut a man’s fingers off. I do not like strangers because I do not like people I have never met before. They are hard to understand. It is like being in France, which is where we went on holiday sometimes when Mother was alive, to camp. And I hated it because if you went into a shop or a restaurant or on a beach you couldn’t understand what anyone was saying, which was frightening. It takes me a long time to get used to people I do not know. For example, when there is a new member of staff at school I do not talk to them for weeks and weeks. I just watch them until I know that they are safe. Then I ask them questions about themselves, like whether they have pets and what is their favorite color and what do they know about the Apollo space missions and I get them to draw a plan of their house and I ask them what kind of car they drive, so I get to know them. Then I don’t mind if I am in the same room as them and don’t have to watch them all the time. So talking to the other people in our street was brave. But if you are going to do detective work you have to be brave, so I had no choice. First of all I made a plan of our part of the street, which is called Randolph Street, like this: Then I made sure I had my Swiss Army knife in my pocket and I went out and I knocked on the door of number 40, which is opposite Mrs. Shears’s house, which means that they were most likely to have seen something. The people who live at number 40 are called Thompson. Mr. Thompson answered the door. He was wearing a T-shirt which said BEER Helping Ugly People Have Sex for 2,000 Years Mr. Thompson said, “Can I help you?” I said, “Do you know who killed Wellington?” I did not look at his face. I do not like looking at people’s faces, especially if they are strangers. He did not say anything for a few seconds. Then he said, “Who are you?” I said, “I’m Christopher Boone from number 36 and I know you. You’re Mr. Thompson.” He said, “I’m Mr. Thompson’s brother.” I said, “Do you know who killed Wellington?” He said, “Who the fuck is Wellington?” I said, “Mrs. Shears’s dog. Mrs. Shears is from number 41.” He said, “Someone killed her dog?” I said, “With a fork.” He said, “Jesus Christ.” I said, “A garden fork,” in case he thought I meant a fork you eat your food with. Then I said, “Do you know who killed him?” He said, “I haven’t a bloody clue.” I said, “Did you see anything suspicious on Thursday evening?” He said, “Look, son, do you really think you should be going around asking questions like this?” And I said, “Yes, because I want to find out who killed Wellington, and I am writing a book about it.” And he said, “Well, I was in Colchester on Thursday, so you’re asking the wrong bloke.” I said, “Thank you,” and I walked away. There was no answer at house number 42. I had seen the people who lived at number 44, but I did not know what their names were. They were black people and they were a man and a lady with two children, a boy and a girl. The lady answered the door. She was wearing boots which looked like army boots and there were 5 bracelets made out of a silver-colored metal on her wrist and they made a jangling noise. She said, “It’s Christopher, isn’t it?” I said that it was, and I asked her if she knew who killed Wellington. She knew who Wellington was so I didn’t have to explain, and she had heard about him being killed. I asked if she had seen anything suspicious on Thursday evening which might be a clue. She said, “Like what?” And I said, “Like strangers. Or like the sound of people arguing.” But she said she hadn’t. And then I decided to do what is called Trying a Different Tack, and I asked her whether she knew of anyone who might want to make Mrs. Shears sad. And she said, “Perhaps you should be talking to your father about this.” And I explained that I couldn’t ask my father because the investigation was a secret because he had told me to stay out of other people’s business. She said, “Well, maybe he has a point, Christopher.” And I said, “So, you don’t know anything which might be a clue.” And she said, “No,” and then she said, “You be careful, young man.” I said that I would be careful and then I said thank you to her for helping me with my questions and I went to number 43, which is the house next to Mrs. Shears’s house. The people who live at number 43 are Mr. Wise and Mr. Wise’s mother, who is in a wheelchair, which is why he lives with her, so he can take her to the shops and drive her around. It was Mr. Wise who answered the door. He smelled of body odor and old biscuits and off popcorn, which is what you smell of if you haven’t washed for a very long time, like Jason at school smells because his family is poor. I asked Mr. Wise if he knew who had killed Wellington on Thursday night. He said, “Bloody hell, policemen really are getting younger, aren’t they.” Then he laughed. I do not like people laughing at me, so I turned and walked away. I did not knock at the door of number 38, which is the house next to our house, because the people there take drugs and Father says that I should never talk to them, so I don’t. And they play loud music at night and they make me scared sometimes when I see them in the street. And it is not really their house. Then I noticed that the old lady who lives at number 39, which is on the other side of Mrs. Shears’s house, was in her front garden cutting her hedge with an electric hedge trimmer. Her name is Mrs. Alexander. She has a dog. It is a dachshund, so she was probably a good person because she liked dogs. But the dog wasn’t in the garden with her. It was inside the house. Mrs. Alexander was wearing jeans and training shoes, which old people don’t normally wear. And there was mud on the jeans. And the trainers were New Balance trainers. And the laces were red. I went up to Mrs. Alexander and said, “Do you know anything about Wellington being killed?” Then she turned the electric hedge trimmer off and said, “I’m afraid you’re going to have to say that again. I’m a little deaf.” So I said, “Do you know anything about Wellington being killed?” And she said, “I heard about it yesterday. Dreadful. Dreadful.” I said, “Do you know who killed him?” And she said, “No, I don’t.” I replied, “Somebody must know because the person who killed Wellington knows that they killed Wellington. Unless they were a mad person and didn’t know what they were doing. Or unless they had amnesia.” And she said, “Well, I suppose you’re probably right.” I said, “Thank you for helping me with my investigation.” And she said, “You’re Christopher, aren’t you?” I said, “Yes. I live at number 36.” And she said, “We haven’t talked before, have we?” I said, “No. I don’t like talking to strangers. But I’m doing detective work.” And she said, “I see you every day, going to school.” I didn’t reply to this. And she said, “It’s very nice of you to come and say hello.” I didn’t reply to this either because Mrs. Alexander was doing what is called chatting, where people say things to each other which aren’t questions and answers and aren’t connected. Then she said, “Even if it’s only because you’re doing detective work.” And I said, “Thank you” again. And I was about to turn and walk away when she said, “I have a grandson your age.” I tried to do chatting by saying, “My age is 15 years and 3 months and 3 days.” And she said, “Well, almost your age.” Then we said nothing for a little while until she said, “You don’t have a dog, do you?” And I said, “No.” She said, “You’d probably like a dog, wouldn’t you.” And I said, “I have a rat.” And she said, “A rat?” And I said, “He’s called Toby.” And she said, “Oh.” And I said, “Most people don’t like rats because they think they carry diseases like bubonic plague. But that’s only because they lived in sewers and stowed away on ships coming from foreign countries where there were strange diseases. But rats are very clean. Toby is always washing himself. And you don’t have to take him out for walks. I just let him run around my room so that he gets some exercise. And sometimes he sits on my shoulder or hides in my sleeve like it’s a burrow. But rats don’t live in burrows in nature.” Mrs. Alexander said, “Do you want to come in for tea?” And I said, “I don’t go into other people’s houses.” And she said, “Well, maybe I could bring some out here. Do you like lemon squash?” I replied, “I only like orange squash.” And she said, “Luckily I have some of that as well. And what about Battenberg?” And I said, “I don’t know because I don’t know what Battenberg is.” She said, “It’s a kind of cake. It has four pink and yellow squares in the middle and it has marzipan icing round the edge.” And I said, “Is it a long cake with a square cross section which is divided into equally sized, alternately colored squares?” And she said, “Yes, I think you could probably describe it like that.” I said, “I think I’d like the pink squares but not the yellow squares because I don’t like yellow. And I don’t know what marzipan is, so I don’t know whether I’d like that.” And she said, “I’m afraid marzipan is yellow, too. Perhaps I should bring out some biscuits instead. Do you like biscuits?” And I said, “Yes. Some sorts of biscuits.” And she said, “I’ll get a selection.” Then she turned and went into the house. She moved very slowly because she was an old lady and she was inside the house for more than 6 minutes and I began to get nervous because I didn’t know what she was doing in the house. I didn’t know her well enough to know whether she was telling the truth about getting orange squash and Battenberg cake. And I thought she might be ringing the police and then I’d get into much more serious trouble because of the caution. So I walked away. And as I was crossing the street I had a stroke of inspiration about who might have killed Wellington. I was imagining a Chain of Reasoning inside my head which was like this: 1. Why would you kill a dog? a) Because you hated the dog. b) Because you were mad. c) Because you wanted to make Mrs. Shears upset. 2. I didn’t know anyone who hated Wellington, so if it was (a) it was probably a stranger. 3. I didn’t know any mad people, so if it was (b) it was also probably a stranger. 4. Most murders are committed by someone who is known to the victim. In fact, you are most likely to be murdered by a member of your own family on Christmas Day. This is a fact. Wellington was therefore most likely to have been killed by someone known to him. 5. If it was (c) I only knew one person who didn’t like Mrs. Shears, and that was Mr. Shears, who knew Wellington very well indeed. This meant that Mr. Shears was my Prime Suspect . Mr. Shears used to be married to Mrs. Shears and they lived together until two years ago. Then Mr. Shears left and didn’t come back. This was why Mrs. Shears came over and did lots of cooking for us after Mother died, because she didn’t have to cook for Mr. Shears anymore and she didn’t have to stay at home and be his wife. And also Father said that she needed company and didn’t want to be on her own. And sometimes Mrs. Shears stayed overnight at our house and I liked it when she did because she made things tidy and she arranged the jars and pans and tins in order of their height on the shelves in the kitchen and she always made their labels face outward and she put the knives and forks and spoons in the correct compartments in the cutlery drawer. But she smoked cigarettes and she said lots of things I didn’t understand, e.g., “I’m going to hit the hay,” and “It’s brass monkeys out there,” and “Let’s rustle up some tucker.” And I didn’t like when she said things like that because I didn’t know what she meant. And I don’t know why Mr. Shears left Mrs. Shears because nobody told me. But when you get married it is because you want to live together and have children, and if you get married in a church you have to promise that you will stay together until death do us part. And if you don’t want to live together you have to get divorced and this is because one of you has done sex with somebody else or because you are having arguments and you hate each other and you don’t want to live in the same house anymore and have children. And Mr. Shears didn’t want to live in the same house as Mrs. Shears anymore so he probably hated her and he might have come back and killed her dog to make her sad. I decided to try and find out more about Mr. Shears. 71. All the other children at my school are stupid. Except I’m not meant to call them stupid, even though this is what they are. I’m meant to say that they have learning difficulties or that they have special needs. But this is stupid because everyone has learning difficulties because learning to speak French or understanding relativity is difficult and also everyone has special needs, like Father, who has to carry a little packet of artificial sweetening tablets around with him to put in his coffee to stop him from getting fat, or Mrs. Peters, who wears a beige-colored hearing aid, or Siobhan, who has glasses so thick that they give you a headache if you borrow them, and none of these people are Special Needs, even if they have special needs. But Siobhan said we have to use those words because people used to call children like the children at school spaz and crip and mong, which were nasty words. But that is stupid too because sometimes the children from the school down the road see us in the street when we’re getting off the bus and they shout, “Special Needs Special Needs” But I don’t take any notice because I don’t listen to what other people say and only sticks and stones can break my bones and I have my Swiss Army knife if they hit me and if I kill them it will be self-defense and I won’t go to prison. I am going to prove that I’m not stupid. Next month I’m going to take my A level in maths and I’m going to get an A grade. No one has ever taken an A level at our school before, and the headmistress, Mrs. Gascoyne, didn’t want me to take it at first. She said they didn’t have the facilities to let us sit A levels. But Father had an argument with Mrs. Gascoyne and he got really cross. Mrs. Gascoyne said they didn’t want to treat me differently from everyone else in the school because then everyone would want to be treated differently and it would set a precedent. And I could always do my A levels later, at 18. I was sitting in Mrs. Gascoyne’s office with Father when she said these things. And Father said, “Christopher is getting a crap enough deal already, don’t you think, without you shitting on him from a great height as well. Jesus, this is the one thing he is really good at.” Then Mrs. Gascoyne said that she and Father should talk about this at some later point on their own. But Father asked her whether she wanted to say things she was embarrassed to say in front of me, and she said no, so he said, “Say them now, then.” And she said that if I sat an A level I would have to have a member of staff looking after me on my own in a separate room. And Father said he would pay someone £50 to do it after school and he wasn’t going to take no for an answer. And she said she’d go away and think about it. And the next week she rang Father at home and told him that I could take the A level and the Reverend

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