The Lost Ambassador eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 233 pages of information about The Lost Ambassador.

CHAPTER XIX

WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS

Arrived in my room, I changed my dress-coat for a smoking-jacket, and my patent shoes for loose slippers.  Then I suddenly discovered that I had no cigarettes.  I glanced at the clock.  It was only half-past ten.  I had still half an hour to spare.

I locked up my room and descended by the lift to the entrance hall.  My friend the hall-porter was standing behind his counter, doing nothing.

“I wish you would send a boy into the cafe,” I said, “and ask Louis to send me a box of my cigarettes.”

“With pleasure, sir,” the man answered.  “By the bye,” he added, “Louis is not there himself, but I suppose any of the others would know the sort you smoke, sir?”

“Not there?” I answered, glancing at the clock.  “Ah!  I suppose it is a little early for him.”

“He will not be there at all this evening,” the porter answered.  “The second maitre d’hotel was here a few minutes ago, and told me so himself.”

“Not there at all!” I repeated.  “Do you mean to say that Louis has a night off?”

“Certainly, sir,” the man answered.  “He has just gone out in his morning clothes.”

For a moment I was so surprised that I said nothing.  Only a few minutes ago Louis had gone out of his way to tell me that he would be on duty that night in the cafe.  All the time it was obviously a lie!  He would not have deceived me without a reason.  What was it?  I walked to the door and back again.  The hall-porter watched me a little curiously.

“Did you wish for Monsieur Louis particularly,” he said, “or shall I send to Antoine for the cigarettes?”

I pulled myself together.

“Send to Antoine, by all means,” I answered.  “He knows what I want.”

I took up an evening paper and glanced at the news.  Somehow or other I was conscious, although I had had no exercise, of feeling unusually sleepy.  When the boy returned with the cigarettes I thrust the box into my pocket, unopened.  Then I went to the smoking-room on my way upstairs and drank a stiff brandy and soda.  Of one of the junior waiters whom I met I asked a question.

“Do you know if Monsieur Louis will be here to-night?” I asked.

“No, sir!” he answered.  “He has just left.”

“Very well,” I answered.  “You need not mention my inquiry.”

I gave the boy half-a-crown, and ascended once more to my room.  I was feeling a little more awake, but, incomprehensible though it might seem, I began to have a curious idea concerning the coffee with which Louis had served me.  I even remembered—­or thought that I remembered—­some curious taste about it.  Yet what object could Louis have in drugging me just as I was on the point of entering into an enterprise on his behalf?

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The Lost Ambassador from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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