"'Um--kip. This complicates the matter. However, let it go--we shall manage. Religion?'
"'Catholic, your Honor.'
"'Very good. Snip me a bit from the bed blanket, please. Ah, thanks. Part wool--foreign make. Very well. A snip from some garment of the child's, please. Thanks. Cotton. Shows wear. An excellent clue, excellent. Pass me a pallet of the floor dirt, if you'll be so kind. Thanks, many thanks. Ah, admirable, admirable! Now we know where we are, I think.' You see, boys, he's got all the clues he wants now; he don't need anything more. Now, then, what does this Extraordinary Man do? He lays those snips and that dirt out on the table and leans over them on his elbows, and puts them together side by side and studies them --mumbles to himself, 'Female'; changes them around--mumbles, 'Six years old'; changes them this way and that--again mumbles: 'Five teeth--one a- coming--Catholic--yarn--cotton--kip--damn that kip.' Then he straightens up and gazes toward heaven, and plows his hands through his hair--plows and plows, muttering, 'Damn that kip!' Then he stands up and frowns, and begins to tally off his clues on his fingers--and gets stuck at the ring- finger. But only just a minute--then his face glares all up in a smile like a house afire, and he straightens up stately and majestic, and says to the crowd, 'Take a lantern, a couple of you, and go down to Injun Billy's and fetch the child--the rest of you go 'long home to bed; good- night, madam; good-night, gents.' And he bows like the Matterhorn, and pulls out for the tavern. That's his style, and the Only--scientific, intellectual--all over in fifteen minutes--no poking around all over the sage-brush range an hour and a half in a mass-meeting crowd for him, boys--you hear me!"
"By Jackson, it's grand!" said Ham Sandwich. "Wells-Fargo, you've got him down to a dot. He ain't painted up any exacter to the life in the books. By George, I can just see him--can't you, boys?"
"You bet you! It's just a photograft, that's what it is."
Ferguson was profoundly pleased with his success, and grateful. He sat silently enjoying his happiness a little while, then he murmured, with a deep awe in his voice,
"I wonder if God made him?"
There was no response for a moment; then Ham Sandwich said, reverently:
"Not all at one time, I reckon."
At eight o'clock that evening two persons were groping their way past Flint Buckner's cabin in the frosty gloom. They were Sherlock Holmes and his nephew.
"Stop here in the road a moment, uncle," said Fetlock, "while I run to my cabin; I won't be gone a minute."
He asked for something--the uncle furnished it--then he disappeared in the darkness, but soon returned, and the talking-walk was resumed. By nine o'clock they had wandered back to the tavern. They worked their way through the billiard-room, where a crowd had gathered in the hope of getting a glimpse of the Extraordinary Man. A royal cheer was raised. Mr. Holmes acknowledged the compliment with a series of courtly bows, and as he was passing out his nephew said to the assemblage:
"Uncle Sherlock's got some work to do, gentlemen, that 'll keep him till twelve or one; but he'll be down again then, or earlier if he can, and hopes some of you'll be left to take a drink with him."
"By George, he's just a duke, boys! Three cheers for Sherlock Holmes, the greatest man that ever lived!" shouted Ferguson. "Hip, hip, hip--"
"Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah! Tiger!"
The uproar shook the building, so hearty was the feeling the boys put into their welcome. Up-stairs the uncle reproached the nephew gently, saying:
"What did you get me into that engagement for?"
"I reckon you don't want to be unpopular, do you, uncle? Well, then, don't you put on any exclusiveness in a mining-camp, that's all. The boys admire you; but if you was to leave without taking a drink with them, they'd set you down for a snob. And besides, you said you had home talk enough in stock to keep us up and at it half the night."
The boy was right, and wise--the uncle acknowledged it.