So it was, sir. And now it's an old black one.

What! you don't mean to say-- -- ?

That's just what I do mean to say. I only had three pairs in the world -- the new brown, the old black, and the patent leathers, which I am wearing. Last night they took one of my brown ones, and to-day they have sneaked one of the black. Well, have you got it? Speak out, man, and don't stand staring!

An agitated German waiter had appeared upon the scene.

No, sir; I have made inquiry all over the hotel, but I can hear no word of it.

Well, either that boot comes back before sundown or I'll see the manager and tell him that I go right straight out of this hotel.

It shall be found, sir -- I promise you that if you will have a little patience it will be found.

Mind it is, for it's the last thing of mine that I'll lose in this den of thieves. Well, well, Mr. Holmes, you'll excuse my troubling you about such a trifle-- --

I think it's well worth troubling about.

Why, you look very serious over it.

How do you explain it?

I just don't attempt to explain it. It seems the very maddest, queerest thing that ever happened to me.

The queerest perhaps-- -- said Holmes, thoughtfully.

What do you make of it yourself?