That was one reason for wonder in Appleyard’s mind—he had never come across quite this type before, though he knew that hunchbacks and cripples are often gifted with unusual strength, and more than usual good looks, as if in ironic compensation for their other disadvantages. But there were others. Mr. Gerald Rayner—everybody knew everybody else’s name in that private hotel, for they were all more or less permanent residents—was something of a mystery man. In spite of his deformity, he was the best-dressed man in the house—they were all smart men there, but none of them came up to him in the way of clothes, linen, and personal adornment, always in the best and most cultured taste. Also it was easy to gather that he was a young man of large means. Although he made full use of the public rooms, and was always in and about them of an evening, from dinner-time to a late hour, he tenanted a private suite of apartments in the hotel—those residents, few in number, who had been privileged to obtain entrance to them spoke with almost awed admiration of their occupant’s books, pictures, and objects of art. Mr. Gerald Rayner, it was evident, was a man of culture—that, indeed, was shown by his conversation. And at first Appleyard had set him down as a poet, or an artist, or a writing man of some sort—a dilettante who possessed private means. Then, being a sharp observer of all that went on around his own centre, he began to perceive that he must be mistaken in that—Rayner was obviously a business man, like himself. For every morning, at precisely half-past nine, a smart motor-brougham arrived at the door of the private hotel and carried Rayner off Citywards; every afternoon at exactly half-past five the same conveyance brought him back. Only business men, said Appleyard, are so regular, so punctual; therefore Rayner must be a business man.
But nobody in that hotel knew anything whatever of Rayner, beyond what they saw of him within its walls. Nobody knew whither the motor-brougham carried him, what he did when he reached his destination, nobody knew what or who he was. Appleyard, who was always knocking about the heart of the City, who was for ever in its business streets, who knew all the City clubs, all the best City restaurants, and was familiar with all sorts and shades of life in the City, never saw Rayner in any of his own purlieus. Accordingly, he came to the conclusion that Rayner’s business, whatever it was, did not take him to the City. Nevertheless, it was certain, in Appleyard’s opinion, that he was in business, and paid scrupulous attention to his daily duties.