FIFTY THOUSAND POUNDS REWARD.
THE BAYSWATER BOARDING-HOUSE
Some time previous to these remarkable events, Marshall Allerdyke, being constantly in London, and having to spend much time on business in the Mansion House region, had sought and obtained membership of the City Carlton Club, in St. Swithin’s Lane, and at noon of the day following the arrival of the Princess Nastirsevitch, he stood in a window of the smoking-room, looking out for Appleyard, whom he had asked to lunch. In one hand he carried a folded copy of the reward bill, which Blindway had left at the Waldorf Hotel for him, and while he waited—the room being empty just then save for an old gentleman who read The Times in a far corner—he unfolded and took a surreptitious glance at it, chuckling to himself at the thought of the cupidity which its contents and promises would arouse in the breasts of the many thousands of folk who would read it.
“Fifty thousand pounds!” he thought, with high amusement. “Egad, some of ’em ’ud feel like Rothschild himself if they could shove that bit in their pockets—they’d take on all the airs of a Croesus!”
The thought of the Rothschild wealth made him lift his eyes and glance through the window at the gate of the quiet, ultra-respectable establishment across the way. Allerdyke, like all men of considerable means, had a mighty respect for wealth in its colossal forms, and he never visited the City Carlton, nor looked out of its smoking-room windows, without glancing with interest and admiration at the famous Rothschild offices, immediately opposite. It amused him to speculate and theorize about the vast amounts of money which must needs be turned over in theory and practice within those soberly quiet walls, to indulge in fancies about the secrets, financial and political, which must be discussed and locked up in human breasts there—to him the magic address, New Court, St. Swithin’s Lane, was as full of potential mystery as the Sphinx is to an imaginative traveller. He glanced at its gates and at its sign now with an almost youthful awe and reverence—the reverence of the man of considerable wealth for the men of enormous wealth—and while his eyes were thus busy a taxi-cab came along the Lane, stopped by the entrance to New Court, and set down Mrs. Marlow.
Allerdyke instinctively shrank back within the curtains of the smoking-room window. There was no reason why he should have done so. He had no objection to Franklin Fullaway’s secretary seeing him standing in a window of the City Carlton Club; he knew no reason why Mrs. Marlow should object to be seen getting out of a cab in St. Swithin’s Lane. Yet, he drew back, and, from his concealed position, watched. Not that there was anything out of the ordinary to watch. Mrs. Marlow, who looked daintier, prettier, more charming than ever, paid her driver, gave him a smiling nod, and tripped into New Court, a bundle of papers in her well-gloved hand.