The maid closed the door to Mr Mint’s room. ‘Do you mind putting a few more sheets in the rooms for me?’ she asked. ‘It won’t take long.’
‘Anything to stay in the hotel and find out more,’ he thought. ‘Sure, I don’t mind,’ he replied.
The maid gave him another sheet. ‘Next room,’ she said, ‘and by the way – my name’s Sarah. Ready?’
Tommy smiled. ‘Yes.’
Sarah began talking about her job, but Tommy wasn’t listening. Instead, he was deep in thought: why was there a painting in Mr Mint’s room? Why was the painting the same as the picture beside it? And what was in the suitcase? Painting…suitcase…painting…suitcase…
And then it hit Tommy. It wasn’t blood in the suitcase – it was paint, red paint! ‘He used the red paint for his painting!’ ‘Why didn’t I think of that before!’ he said.
‘Think of what?’ asked Sarah. She was in front of him now, opening another room door.
‘Can you put this sheet on the bed?’ she aske, handing Tommy another sheet.
‘Sure,’ said Tommy. He was thinking about the name that he saw, Smalling. Quickly, he put the sheet on the bed and pulled out his Blackberry. Sarah closed the door behind them and went on to the next room. Walking behind her, Tommy put ‘Smalling’ and ‘painting’ into Google. A second later, he found the information that he was looking for on the Internet. Victor Smalling was a famous British painter. A few months ago, one of his paintings sold for nearly 26,000 pounds. Tommy looked at pictures of some of Smalling’s paintings. Most of them had simple shapes and colours in them. ‘They look like children’s paintings!’ he thought. Then Tommy saw something that made his eyes open wide: Newman was born in 1894…AND DIED IN 1972. ‘He died more than 40 years ago,’ thought Tommy. ‘But the painting by Smalling that I saw in Mr Mint’s room was new because it had wet paint…That means…’
‘Hello, Sarah. Who do we have here?’
Tommy looked up from his smart phone. A tall, important-looking woman in a dark blue jacket and skirt was standing in front of them. Tommy saw that her badge had the name of the hotel on it.
‘Good afternoon,’ said Sarah. ‘This kind lad was just helping me with these sheets.’ She turned to Tommy. ‘Tommy, this is the hotel manager, Mrs Paulson.’
Tommy said hello.
Mrs Paulson looked carefully at Tommy. ‘You know,’ she said, ‘this is the busiest time of the year and we are looking for people to work in the hotel just for the summer. Are you interested in a job?’
The manager (n) – the person who decides what people must do
A jacket (n) – a piece of clothing that is worn on top of a shirt or blouse