So we drove rapidly away in the brougham, through the miry, light-reflecting streets of Hanbridge in the direction of Knype. And the raindrops ran down the windows of the brougham, and in the cushioned interior we could see each other darkly. He did his best to be at ease, and he almost succeeded. My feeling towards him, as regards the external management, the social guidance, of the affair, was as though we were at sea in a dangerous storm, and he was on the bridge and I was a mere passenger, and could take no responsibility. Who knew through what difficult channels we might not have to steer, and from what lee-shores we might not have to beat away? I saw that he perceived this. When I offered him some awkward compliment about his good English, he seized the chance of a narrative, and told me about his parentage: how his mother was Scotch, and his father Danish, and how, after his father’s death, his mother had married Emilio Diaz, a Spanish teacher of music in Edinburgh, and how he had taken, by force of early habit, the name of his stepfather. The whole world was familiar with these facts, and I was familiar with them; but their recital served our turn in the brougham, and, of course, Diaz could add touches which had escaped the Staffordshire Recorder, and perhaps all other papers. He was explaining to me that his secretary was his stepfather’s son by another wife, when we arrived at the Five Towns Hotel, opposite Knype Railway Station. I might have foreseen that that would be our destination. I hooded myself as well as I could, and followed him quickly to the first-floor. I sank down into a chair nearly breathless in his sitting-room, and he took my cloak, and then poked the bright fire that was burning. On a small table were some glasses and a decanter, and a few sandwiches. I surmised that the secretary had been before us and arranged things, and discreetly departed. My adventure appeared to me suddenly and over-poweringly in its full enormity. ‘Oh,’ I sighed, ‘if I were a man like you!’ Then it was that, gazing up at me from the fire, Diaz had said that he was not happy, that he was forlorn.
‘Yes,’ he proceeded, sitting down and crossing his legs; ’I am profoundly dissatisfied. What is my life? Eight or nine months in the year it is a homeless life of hotels and strange faces and strange pianos. You do not know how I hate a strange piano. That one’—he pointed to a huge instrument which had evidently been placed in the room specially for him—’is not very bad; but I made its acquaintance only yesterday, and after to-morrow I shall never see it again. I wander across the world, and everybody I meet looks at me as if I ought to be in a museum, and bids me make acquaintance with a strange piano.’