I accepted the mug he offered; the tea was hot and sweet and very strong. He watched, and when I had met whatever his criteria were, he said, "Me and Hob, we reckon maybe it ain't rats."
This was Fiske, then; I was relieved not to have to ask. "No?"
"No, sir. Y'see, Hob has a dog what is a champion ratter. Very well known, is Mingus. And me and Hob brought Mingus in, sir, quiet-like, feeling that what His Nibs don't know, he won't lose sleep over . . ."
"Quite," I said, perceiving that Fiske would not continue until he had been reassured on that point.
"Thank you, sir. So Hob brought Mingus in, and the dog, sir, did not rat."
"No, sir. We took him all over the museum, and not a peep out of him. And before you ask, sir, that dratted scratching noise seemed like it was following us about. Mingus heard it, sure enough, but he wouldn't go after it. Just whined and kind of cringed when Hob tried him. So we figured, Hob and myself, that it ain't rats."
"What do, er, you and Mr. Hobden think it is?"
Mr. Fiske looked at me solemnly and said, "As to that, sir, we ain't got the least idea."