“Not till the afternoon,” he muttered.
“Matter of tide, sir,” the man explained. “You can go on board any time after eleven o’clock in the morning, though. Very much obliged to you, sir.”
The porter withdrew, entirely satisfied with his tip. Philip Romilly locked the door after him carefully. Then he drew a bunch of keys from his pocket and, after several attempts, opened both the steamer trunk and the dressing-case. He surveyed their carefully packed contents with a certain grim and fantastic amusement, handled the silver brushes, shook out a purple brocaded dressing-gown, laid out a suit of clothes for the morrow, even selected a shirt and put the links in it. Finally he wandered into the adjoining bathroom, took a hot bath, packed away at the bottom of the steamer trunk the clothes which he had been wearing, went to bed—and slept.
The sun was shining into his bedroom when Philip Romilly was awakened the next morning by a discreet tapping at the door. He sat up in bed and shouted “Come in.” He had no occasion to hesitate for a moment. He knew perfectly well where he was, he remembered exactly everything that had happened. The knocking at the door was disquieting but he faced it without a tremor. The floor waiter appeared and bowed deferentially.
“There is a gentleman on the telephone wishes to speak to you, sir,” he announced. “I have connected him with the instrument by your side.”
“To speak with me?” Philip repeated. “Are you quite sure?”
“Yes, sir. Mr. Douglas Romilly he asked for. He said that his name was Mr. Gayes, I believe.”
The man left the room and Philip took up the receiver. For a moment he sat and thought. The situation was perplexing, in a sense ominous, yet it had to be faced. He held the instrument to his ear.
“Hullo? Who’s that?” he enquired.
“That Mr. Romilly?” was the reply, in a man’s pleasant voice. “Mr. Douglas Romilly?”
“Good! I’m Gayes—Mr. Gayes of Gayes Brothers. My people wrote me last night from Leicester that you would be here this morning. You are crossing, aren’t you, on the Elletania?”
Philip remained monosyllabic.
“Yes,” he admitted cautiously.
“Can’t you come round and see us this morning?” Mr. Gayes invited. “And look here, Mr. Romilly, in any case I want you to lunch with me at the club. My car shall come round and fetch you at any time you say.”
“Sorry,” Philip replied. “I am very busy this morning, and I am engaged for lunch.”
“Oh, come, that’s too bad,” the other protested, “I really want to have a chat with you on business matters, Mr. Romilly. Will you spare me half an hour if I come round?”
“Tell me exactly what it is you want?” Philip insisted.
“Oh! just the usual thing,” was the cheerful answer. “We hear you are off to America on a buying tour. Our last advices don’t indicate a very easy market over there. I am not at all sure that we couldn’t do better for you here, and give you better terms.”