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.
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
Apart from their size, though. Is there nothing
They appear to be much as other footmarks.
Not at all. Look here! This is the print of a right foot
in the dust. Now I make one with my naked foot beside it. What is the chief
Your toes are all cramped together. The other print has
each toe distinctly divided.
Quite so. That is the point. Bear that in mind. Now,
would you kindly step over to that flap-window and smell the edge of the woodwork? I shall
stay over here, as I have this handkerchief in my hand.
I did as he directed and was instantly conscious of a strong
That is where he put his foot in getting out. If you can
trace him, I should think that Toby will have no difficulty. Now run downstairs, loose the
dog, and look out for Blondin.
By the time that I got out into the grounds Sherlock Holmes
was on the roof, and I could see him like an enormous glow-worm crawling very slowly along
the ridge. I lost sight of him behind a stack of chimneys, but he presently reappeared and
then vanished once more upon the opposite side. When I made my way round there I found him
seated at one of the corner eaves.
That you, Watson? he cried.
This is the place. What is that black thing down
Top on it?
No sign of a ladder?
Confound the fellow! Its a most breakneck place. I
ought to be able to come down where he could climb up. The water-pipe feels pretty firm.
Here goes, anyhow.
There was a scuffling of feet, and the lantern began to come
steadily down the side of the wall. Then with a light spring he came on to the barrel, and
from there to the earth.
It was easy to follow him, he said, drawing on his
stockings and boots. Tiles were loosened the whole way along, and in his hurry he
had dropped this. It confirms my diagnosis, as you doctors express it.
The object which he held up to me was a small pocket or pouch
woven out of coloured grasses and with a few tawdry beads strung round it. In shape and
size it was not unlike a cigarette-case. Inside were half a dozen spines of dark wood,
sharp at one end and rounded at the other, like that which had struck Bartholomew Sholto.
They are hellish things, said he. Look out
that you dont prick yourself. Im delighted to have them, for the chances are
that they are all he has. There is the less fear of you or me finding one in our skin
before long. I would sooner face a Martini bullet, myself. Are you game for a six-mile
Certainly, I answered.
Your leg will stand it?
Here you are, doggy! Good old Toby! Smell it, Toby,
smell it! He pushed the creosote handkerchief under the dogs nose, while the
creature stood with its fluffy legs separated, and with a most comical cock to its head,
like a connoisseur sniffing the bouquet of a famous vintage. Holmes then threw the
handkerchief to a distance, fastened a stout cord to the mongrels collar, and led
him to the foot of the water-barrel. The creature instantly broke into a succession of
high, tremulous yelps and, with his nose on the ground and his tail in the air, pattered
off upon the trail at a pace which strained his leash and kept us at the top of our speed.
The east had been gradually whitening, and we could now see
some distance in the cold gray light. The square, massive house, with its black, empty
windows and high, bare walls, towered up, sad and forlorn, behind us. Our course led right
across the grounds, in and out among the trenches and pits with which they were scarred
and intersected. The whole place, with its scattered dirt-heaps and ill-grown shrubs, had
a blighted, ill-omened look which harmonized with the black tragedy which hung over it.
On reaching the boundary wall Toby ran along, whining eagerly,
underneath its shadow, and stopped finally in a corner screened by a young beech. Where
the two walls joined, several bricks had been loosened, and the crevices left were worn
down and rounded upon the lower side, as though they had frequently been used as a ladder.
Holmes clambered up, and taking the dog from me he dropped it over upon the other side.
Theres the print of Wooden-legs hand,
he remarked as I mounted up beside him. You see the slight smudge of blood upon the
white plaster. What a lucky thing it is that we have had no very heavy rain since
yesterday! The scent will lie upon the road in spite of their eight-and-twenty hours
I confess that I had my doubts myself when I reflected upon
the great traffic which had passed along the London road in the interval. My fears were
soon appeased, however. Toby never hesitated or swerved but waddled on in his peculiar
rolling fashion. Clearly the pungent smell of the creosote rose high above all other
Do not imagine, said Holmes, that I depend
for my success in this case upon the mere chance of one of these fellows having put his
foot in the chemical. I have knowledge now which would enable me to trace them in many
different ways. This, however, is the readiest, and, since fortune has put it into our
hands, I should be culpable if I neglected it. It has, however, prevented the case from
becoming the pretty little intellectual problem which it at one time promised to be. There
might have been some credit to be gained out of it but for this too palpable clue.
There is credit, and to spare, said I. I
assure you, Holmes, that I marvel at the means by which you obtain your results in this
case even more than I did in the Jefferson Hope murder. The thing seems to me to be deeper
and more inexplicable. How, for example, could you describe with such confidence the
Pshaw, my dear boy! it was simplicity itself. I
dont wish to be theatrical. It is all patent and above-board. Two officers who are
in command of a convict-guard learn an important secret as to buried treasure. A map is
drawn for them by an Englishman named Jonathan Small. You remember that we saw the name
upon the  chart in
Captain Morstans possession. He had signed it in behalf of himself and his
associatesthe sign of the four, as he somewhat dramatically called it. Aided by this
chart, the officersor one of themgets the treasure and brings it to England,
leaving, we will suppose, some condition under which he received it unfulfilled. Now,
then, why did not Jonathan Small get the treasure himself? The answer is obvious. The
chart is dated at a time when Morstan was brought into close association with convicts.
Jonathan Small did not get the treasure because he and his associates were themselves
convicts and could not get away.
But this is mere speculation, said I.
It is more than that. It is the only hypothesis which
covers the facts. Let us see how it fits in with the sequel. Major Sholto remains at peace
for some years, happy in the possession of his treasure. Then he receives a letter from
India which gives him a great fright. What was that?
A letter to say that the men whom he had wronged had
been set free.
Or had escaped. That is much more likely, for he would
have known what their term of imprisonment was. It would not have been a surprise to him.
What does he do then? He guards himself against a wooden-legged mana white man, mark
you, for he mistakes a white tradesman for him and actually fires a pistol at him. Now,
only one white mans name is on the chart. The others are Hindoos or Mohammedans.
There is no other white man. Therefore we may say with confidence that the wooden-legged
man is identical with Jonathan Small. Does the reasoning strike you as being faulty?
No: it is clear and concise.
Well, now, let us put ourselves in the place of Jonathan
Small. Let us look at it from his point of view. He comes to England with the double idea
of regaining what he would consider to be his rights and of having his revenge upon the
man who had wronged him. He found out where Sholto lived, and very possibly he established
communications with someone inside the house. There is this butler, Lal Rao, whom we have
not seen. Mrs. Bernstone gives him far from a good character. Small could not find out,
however, where the treasure was hid, for no one ever knew save the major and one faithful
servant who had died. Suddenly Small learns that the major is on his deathbed. In a frenzy
lest the secret of the treasure die with him, he runs the gauntlet of the guards, makes
his way to the dying mans window, and is only deterred from entering by the presence
of his two sons. Mad with hate, however, against the dead man, he enters the room that
night, searches his private papers in the hope of discovering some memorandum relating to
the treasure, and finally leaves a memento of his visit in the short inscription upon the
card. He had doubtless planned beforehand that, should he slay the major, he would leave
some such record upon the body as a sign that it was not a common murder but, from the
point of view of the four associates, something in the nature of an act of justice.
Whimsical and bizarre conceits of this kind are common enough in the annals of crime and
usually afford valuable indications as to the criminal. Do you follow all this?
Now what could Jonathan small do? He could only continue
to keep a secret watch upon the efforts made to find the treasure. Possibly he leaves
England and only comes back at intervals. Then comes the discovery of the garret, and he
is instantly informed of it. We again trace the presence of some confederate in the
household. Jonathan, with his wooden leg, is utterly unable to reach the lofty  room of Bartholomew Sholto.
He takes with him, however, a rather curious associate, who gets over this difficulty but
dips his naked foot into creosote, whence come Toby, and a six-mile limp for a half-pay
officer with a damaged tendo Achillis.
But it was the associate and not Jonathan who committed
Quite so. And rather to Jonathans disgust, to
judge by the way he stamped about when he got into the room. He bore no grudge against
Bartholomew Sholto and would have preferred if he could have been simply bound and gagged.
He did not wish to put his head in a halter. There was no help for it, however: the savage
instincts of his companion had broken out, and the poison had done its work: so Jonathan
Small left his record, lowered the treasure-box to the ground, and followed it himself.
That was the train of events as far as I can decipher them. Of course, as to his personal
appearance, he must be middle-aged and must be sunburned after serving his time in such an
oven as the Andamans. His height is readily calculated from the length of his stride, and
we know that he was bearded. His hairiness was the one point which impressed itself upon
Thaddeus Sholto when he saw him at the window. I dont know that there is anything
Ah, well, there is no great mystery in that. But you
will know all about it soon enough. How sweet the morning air is! See how that one little
cloud floats like a pink feather from some gigantic flamingo. Now the red rim of the sun
pushes itself over the London cloud-bank. It shines on a good many folk, but on none, I
dare bet, who are on a stranger errand than you and I. How small we feel with our petty
ambitions and strivings in the presence of the great elemental forces of Nature! Are you
well up in your Jean Paul?
Fairly so. I worked back to him through Carlyle.
That was like following the brook to the parent lake. He
makes one curious but profound remark. It is that the chief proof of mans real
greatness lies in his perception of his own smallness. It argues, you see, a power of
comparison and of appreciation which is in itself a proof of nobility. There is much food
for thought in Richter. You have not a pistol, have you?
I have my stick.
It is just possible that we may need something of the
sort if we get to their lair. Jonathan I shall leave to you, but if the other turns nasty
I shall shoot him dead.
He took out his revolver as he spoke, and, having loaded two
of the chambers, he put it back into the right-hand pocket of his jacket.
We had during this time been following the guidance of Toby
down the half-rural villa-lined roads which lead to the metropolis. Now, however, we were
beginning to come among continuous streets, where labourers and dockmen were already
astir, and slatternly women were taking down shutters and brushing door-steps. At the
square-topped corner public-houses business was just beginning, and rough-looking men were
emerging, rubbing their sleeves across their beards after their morning wet. Strange dogs
sauntered up and stared wonderingly at us as we passed, but our inimitable Toby looked
neither to the right nor to the left but trotted onward with his nose to the ground and an
occasional eager whine which spoke of a hot scent.
We had traversed Streatham, Brixton, Camberwell, and now found
ourselves in Kennington Lane, having borne away through the side streets to the east of
the  Oval. The men whom
we pursued seemed to have taken a curiously zigzag road, with the idea probably of
escaping observation. They had never kept to the main road if a parallel side street would
serve their turn. At the foot of Kennington Lane they had edged away to the left through
Bond Street and Miles Street. Where the latter street turns into Knights Place, Toby
ceased to advance but began to run backward and forward with one ear cocked and the other
drooping, the very picture of canine indecision. Then he waddled round in circles, looking
up to us from time to time, as if to ask for sympathy in his embarrassment.
What the deuce is the matter with the dog? growled
Holmes. They surely would not take a cab or go off in a balloon.
Perhaps they stood here for some time, I
Ah! its all right. Hes off again, said
my companion in a tone of relief.
He was indeed off, for after sniffing round again he suddenly
made up his mind and darted away with an energy and determination such as he had not yet
shown. The scent appeared to be much hotter than before, for he had not even to put his
nose on the ground but tugged at his leash and tried to break into a run. I could see by
the gleam in Holmess eyes that he thought we were nearing the end of our journey.
Our course now ran down Nine Elms until we came to Broderick
and Nelsons large timber-yard just past the White Eagle tavern. Here the dog,
frantic with excitement, turned down through the side gate into the enclosure, where the
sawyers were already at work. On the dog raced through sawdust and shavings, down an
alley, round a passage, between two wood-piles, and finally, with a triumphant yelp,
sprang upon a large barrel which still stood upon the hand-trolley on which it had been
brought. With lolling tongue and blinking eyes Toby stood upon the cask, looking from one
to the other of us for some sign of appreciation. The staves of the barrel and the wheels
of the trolley were smeared with a dark liquid, and the whole air was heavy with the smell
Sherlock Holmes and I looked blankly at each other and then
burst simultaneously into an uncontrollable fit of laughter.