It was a very cheerful little party dining that night at the Dormy House Club. There was Granet; Geoffrey Anselman, his cousin, who played for Cambridge and rowed two; Major Harrison, whose leave had been extended another three weeks; and the secretary of the club, who made up the quartette.
“By-the-bye, where were you this afternoon, Captain Granet?” the latter asked. “You left Anselman to play our best ball. Jolly good hiding he gave us, too.”
“Went out for a spin,” Granet explained, “and afterwards fell fast asleep in my room. Wonderful air, yours, you know,” he went on.
“I slept like a top last night,” Major Harrison declared. “The first three nights I was home I never closed my eyes.”
Granet leaned across the table to the secretary.
“Dickens,” he remarked, “that’s a queer-looking fellow at the further end of the room. Who is he?”
The secretary glanced around and smiled.
“You mean that little fellow with the glasses and the stoop? He arrived last night and asked for a match this morning. You see what a miserable wizened-up looking creature he is? I found him a twelve man and he wiped the floor with me. Guess what his handicap is?”
“No idea,” Granet replied. “Forty, I should think.”
“Scratch at St. Andrews,” Dickens told them. “His name’s Collins. I don’t’ know anything else about him. He’s paid for a week and we’re jolly glad to get visitors at all these times.”
“Bridge or billiards?” young Anselman asked, rising.
“Let’s play billiards,” Granet suggested. “The stretching across the table does me good.”
“We’ll have a snooker, then,” Major Harrison decided.
They played for some time. The wizened-looking little man came and watched them benevolently, peering every now and then through his spectacles, and applauding mildly any particularly good stroke. At eleven o’clock they turned out the lights and made their way to their rooms. Shortly before midnight, Granet, in his dressing-gown, stole softly across the passage and opened, without knocking, the door of a room opposite to him. The wizened-looking little man was seated upon the edge of the bed, half-dressed. Granet turned the key in the lock, stood for a moment listening and swung slowly around.
“Well?” he exclaimed softly.
The tenant of the room nodded. He had taken off his glasses and their absence revealed a face of strong individuality. He spoke quietly but distinctly.
“You have explored the house?”
“As far as I could,” Granet replied. “The place is almost in a state of siege.”
“Proves that we are on the right track, any way. What’s that building that seems to stand out in the water?”
“How do you know about it?” Granet demanded.