Inspector White rapped on the green-painted door of the Herbage but took a surprised step backwards at the outburst of furious barking from inside. The letterbox rattled and a snout poked out, the brown nose taking noisy intakes of breath and huffing them out again. He could make out the end of a paw, too.
"Stimper! i lawr! Dewch i ffwrdd!" Meinwen's accent sounded muted since the last time he'd spoken to her, as if the dampness in her throat had been dried by the Wiltshire chalk. The sounds of a scuffle filtered through the oak boards but eventually the door opened a crack, Meinwen's curl-framed face at the height of White's waist and the brown-speckled head of a dog at the level of his knees.
He took another step back, almost clocking himself on the head against Meinwen's hanging basket full of chives and pansies. "Hold the dog back, please."
"Inspector! What an unexpected pleasure. Let me put Stimper in the study. He wouldn't harm a fly but he's a bit excitable."
"Right you are, Ms. Jones." White checked his phone while he waited, wondering what the flashing orange envelope meant. A moment later the door opened fully.
"Sorry about that. My brother's gone to Greece for a fortnight and I'm looking after his spaniel. He's from Cardiff and doesn't understand my accent."
"Could you not have put him into kennels?"
"Oh no." Meinwen stood to one side to let him pass. "He was set on seeing Athens."