Mr. Sherlock Holmes I began; but the words had a most magical effect, for the window instantly slammed down, and within a minute the door was unbarred and open. Mr. Sherman was a lanky, lean old man, with stooping shoulders, a stringy neck, and blue-tinted glasses.
A friend of Mr. Sherlock is always welcome, said he. Step in, sir. Keep clear of the badger, for he bites. Ah, naughty, naughty; would you take a nip at the gentleman? This to a stoat which thrust its wicked head and red eyes between the bars of its cage. Dont mind that, sir; its only a slowworm. It haint got no fangs, so I gives it the run o the room, for it keeps the beetles down. You must not mind my bein just a little short wi you at first, for Im guyed at by the children, and theres many a one just comes down this lane to knock me up. What was it that Mr. Sherlock Holmes wanted, sir?
He wanted a dog of yours.
Ah! that would be Toby.
Yes, Toby was the name.
Toby lives at No. 7 on the left here.
He moved slowly forward with his candle among the queer animal family which he had gathered round him. In the uncertain, shadowy light I could see dimly that there were glancing, glimmering eyes peeping down at us from every cranny and corner. Even the rafters above our heads were lined by solemn fowls, who lazily shifted their weight from one leg to the other as our voices disturbed their slumbers.
Toby proved to be an ugly, long-haired, lop-eared creature, half spaniel and half lurcher, brown and white in colour, with a very clumsy, waddling gait. It accepted, after some hesitation, a lump of sugar which the old naturalist handed to me, and, having thus sealed an alliance, it followed me to the cab and made no difficulties about accompanying me. It had just struck three on the Palace clock when I found myself back once more at Pondicherry Lodge. The ex-prize-fighter McMurdo had, I found, been arrested as an accessory, and both he and Mr. Sholto had been marched off to the station. Two constables guarded the narrow gate, but they allowed me to pass with the dog on my mentioning the detectives name.
Holmes was standing on the doorstep with his hands in his pockets, smoking his pipe.
Ah, you have him there! said he. Good dog, then! Athelney Jones has gone. We have had an immense display of energy since you left. He has arrested not only friend Thaddeus but the gatekeeper, the housekeeper, and the Indian servant. We have the place to ourselves but for a sergeant upstairs. Leave the dog here and come up.
We tied Toby to the hall table and reascended the stairs. The room was as we had left it, save that a sheet had been draped over the central figure. A weary-looking police-sergeant reclined in the corner.
Lend me your bulls eye, Sergeant, said my companion. Now tie this bit of card round my neck, so as to hang it in front of me. Thank you. Now I must kick off my boots and stockings. Just you carry them down with you, Watson. I am going to do a little climbing. And dip my handkerchief into the creosote. That will do. Now come up into the garret with me for a moment.
We clambered up through the hole. Holmes turned his light once more upon the footsteps in the dust.
I wish you particularly to notice these footmarks, he said. Do you observe anything noteworthy about them?
They belong, I said, to a child or a small woman.
Apart from their size, though. Is there nothing else?
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