“Look after Markovitch!” Bohun exclaimed.
“Yes... I don’t want to be melodramatic, but there’s trouble coming there; and if you’re the friend of them all, you can help—more than you know. Only none of the other business—”
Bohun flushed. “She doesn’t know—she never will. I only want to be a friend of hers, as you put it. Anything else is hopeless, of course. I’m not the kind of fellow she’d ever look at, even if Markovitch wasn’t there. But if I can do anything... I’d be awfully glad. What kind of trouble do you mean?” he asked.
“Probably nothing,” I said; “only she wants a friend. And Markovitch wants one too.”
There was a pause—then Bohun said, “I say, Durward—what an awful ass I was.”
“What about?” I asked.
“About my poetry—and all that. Thinking it so important.”
“Yes,” I said, “you were.”
“I’ve written some poetry to her and I tore it up,” he ended.
“That’s a good thing,” said I.
“I’m glad I told you,” he said. He got up to go. “I say, Durward—”
“Well,” I asked.
“You’re an awfully funny chap. Not a bit what you look—”
“That’s all right,” I said; “I know what you mean.”
“Well, good-night,” he said, and went.
I thought that night, as I lay cosily in my dusky room, of those old stories by Wilkie Collins that had once upon a time so deeply engrossed my interest—stories in which, because some one has disappeared on a snowy night, or painted his face blue, or locked up a room and lost the key, or broken down in his carriage on a windy night at the cross-roads, dozens of people are involved, diaries are written, confessions are made, and all the characters move along different roads towards the same lighted, comfortable Inn. That is the kind of story that intrigues me, whether it be written about out-side mysteries by Wilkie Collins or inside mysteries by the great creator of “The Golden Bowl” or mysteries of both kinds, such as Henry Galleon has given us. I remember a friend of mine, James Maradick, once saying to me, “It’s no use trying to keep out of things. As soon as they want to put you in—you’re in. The moment you’re born, you’re done for.”
It’s just that spectacle of some poor innocent being suddenly caught into some affair, against his will, without his knowledge, but to the most serious alteration of his character and fortunes, that one watches with a delight almost malicious—whether it be The Woman in White, The Wings of the Dove, or The Roads that offer it us. Well, I had now to face the fact that something of this kind had happened to myself.