“Ten minutes, no more,” she insisted good-humoredly.
The Inspector nodded.
“One question, if you please, nurse,” he asked. “Is the man going to live?”
“Not a doubt about it,” she declared. “Why?”
“A matter of depositions,” the Inspector exclaimed. “I’d rather let it go, though, if he’s sure to recover.”
“It’s a simple case,” she answered, “and his constitution is excellent. There isn’t the least need for your to think about depositions. Here he is. Don’t talk too long.”
The Inspector sat down by the bedside. The patient, a young man, welcomed him a little shyly.
“You have come to ask me about what I saw in Pall Mall and opposite the Hyde Park Hotel?” he said, speaking slowly and in a voice scarcely raised above a whisper. “I told them all before the operation, but they couldn’t send for you then. There wasn’t time.”
The Inspector nodded.
“Tell me your own way,” he said. “Don’t hurry. We can get the particulars later on. Glad you’re going to be mended.”
“It was touch and go,” the young man declared with a note of awe in his tone. “If the omnibus wheel had turned a foot more, I should have lost both my legs. It was all through watching that chap hop out of the taxicab, too.”
The Inspector inclined his head gravely.
“You saw him get in, didn’t you?” he asked.
“That’s so,” the patient admitted. “I was on my way—Charing Cross to the Kensington Palace Hotel, on a bicycle. There was a block—corner of Pall Mall and Haymarket. I caught hold—taxi in front—to steady me.”
The nurse bent over him with a glass in her hand. She raised him a little with the other arm.
“Not too much of this, you know, young man,” she said with a pleasant smile. “Here’s something to make you strong.”
“Right you are!”
He drained the contents of the glass and smacked his lips.
“Jolly good stuff,” he declared. “Where was I, Mr. Inspector?”
“Holding the back of a taxicab, corner of Regent Street and Haymarket,” Inspector Jacks reminded him.
The patient nodded.
“There was an electric brougham,” he continued, “drawn up alongside the taxi. While we were there, waiting, I saw a chap get out, speak to some one through the window of the taxi, open the door, and step in. When we moved on, he stayed in the taxi. Dark, slim chap he was,” the patient continued, “a regular howling swell,—silk hat, white muffler, white kid gloves,—all the rest of it.”
“And afterwards?” the Inspector asked.
“I kept behind the taxi,” the youth continued. “We got blocked again at Hyde Park Corner. I saw him step out of the taxi and disappear amongst the vehicles. A moment or two later, I passed the taxi and looked in—saw something had happened—the fellow was lying side-ways. It gave me a bit of a start. I skidded, and over I went. Sort of had an idea that every one in the world had started shouting to me, and felt that I was half underneath an omnibus. Woke up to find myself here.”