“That is so,” Dr. Whiles admitted. “There was nothing much the matter with him. He had rather a narrow escape.”
“I am that gentleman’s servant,” the visitor continued with a bland smile. “He has sent me down here to see you. The leg which was injured is perfectly well, but there was a pain in the side of which he spoke to you, which has not disappeared. This morning, in fact, it is worse,—much worse. My master, therefore, has sent me to you. He begs that if it is not inconvenient you will return with me at once and examine him.”
The doctor drew a little breath. This might mean another week or so of respite!
“Where does your master live?” he asked the man.
“In the West end of London, sir,” was the reply. “The Square of St. James it is called.”
Dr. Whiles glanced at his watch.
“It will take me some time to go there with you,” he said, “and I shall have to arrange with a friend to treat any other patients. Do you think your master will understand that I shall need an increased fee?”
“My master desired me to say,” the other answered, “that he would be prepared to pay any fee you cared to mention. Money is not of account with him. He has not had occasion to seek medical advice in London, and as he is leaving very soon, he did not wish to send for a strange physician. He remembered with gratitude your care of him, and he sends for you.”
“That’s all right,” Dr. Whiles declared, “so long as it’s understood. You’ll excuse me for a moment while I write a note, and I’ll come along.”
Dr. Whiles had no note to write, but he made a few changes in his toilet which somewhat improved his appearance. In due course he reappeared and was rapidly whirled up to London, the sole passenger in the magnificent car. The man who had brought him the message from his quondam patient was sitting in front, next the chauffeur, so Dr. Whiles had no opportunity of asking him for any information concerning his master. Nor did the car itself slacken speed until it drew up before the door of the large corner house in St. James’ Square. A footman in dark livery came running out; a butler bowed upon the steps. Dr. Spencer Whiles was immensely impressed. The servants were all Japanese, but their livery and manners were faultless. He made his way into the hall and followed the butler up the broad stairs.
“My master,” the latter explained, “will receive you very shortly. He is but partly dressed at present.”
Dr. Spencer Whiles came of a family of successful tradespeople, and he was not used to such quiet magnificence as was everywhere displayed. Yet, with it all, there seemed to him to be an air of gloom about the place, something almost mysterious in the silence of the thick carpets, the subdued voices, and the absence of maidservants. The house itself was apparently an old one. He noticed that the doors were very heavy and thick, the corridors roomy, the absence of light almost remarkable. The apartment into which he was shown, however, came as a pleasant surprise. It was small, but delightfully furnished in the most modern fashion. Its only drawback was that it looked out upon a blank wall.