“What I like about your restaurant life,” the Prince said, “is the strange mixture of classes which it everywhere reveals.”
“Those two, for instance,” Penelope said, and then stopped short.
The Prince followed her slight gesture. Inspector Jacks and Dr. Spencer Whiles were certainly just a little out of accord with their surroundings. The detective’s clothes were too new and his companion’s too old. The doctor’s clothes indeed were as shabby as his waiting room, and he sat where the sunlight was merciless.
“How singular,” the Prince remarked with a smile, “that you should have pointed those two men out! One of them I know, and, if you will excuse me for a moment, I should like to speak to him.”
Penelope was not capable of any immediate answer. The Prince, with a kindly and yet gracious smile, walked over to Inspector Jacks, who rose at once to his feet.
“I hope you have quite recovered, Mr. Inspector,” the Prince said, holding out his hand in friendly fashion. “I have felt very guilty over your indisposition. I am sure that I keep my rooms too close for English people.”
“Thank you, Prince,” the Inspector answered, “I am perfectly well again. In fact, I have not felt anything of my little attack since.”
The Prince smiled.
“I am glad,” he said. “Next time you are good enough to pay me a visit, I will see that you do not suffer in the same way.”
He nodded kindly and rejoined his friends. The Inspector resumed his seat and busied himself with relighting his cigar. He purposely did not even glance at his companion.
“Who was that?” the doctor asked curiously. “Did you call him Prince?”
Inspector Jacks sighed. This was a disappointment to him!
“His name is Prince Maiyo,” he said slowly. “He is a Japanese.”
The doctor looked across the restaurant with puzzled face.
“It’s queer,” he said, “how all these Japanese seem to one to look so much alike, and yet—”
He broke off in the middle of his sentence.
“You are thinking of your friend of the other night?” the Inspector remarked.
“I was,” the doctor admitted. “For a moment it seemed to me like the same man with a different manner.”
Inspector Jacks was silent. He puffed steadily at his cigar.
“You don’t suppose,” he asked quietly, “that it could have been the same man?”
The doctor was still looking across the room.
“I could not tell,” he said. “I should like to see him again. I wasn’t prepared, and there was something so altered in his tone and the way he carried himself. And yet—”
The pause was expressive. Inspector Jacks’ eyes brightened. He hated to feel that his day had been altogether wasted.
Inspector Jacks was in luck at last. Eleven times he had called at St. Thomas’s Hospital and received the same reply. Today he was asked to wait. The patient was better—would be able to see him. Soon a nurse in neat uniform came quietly down the corridor and took charge of him.