The doctor summoned up his courage.
“We will say a guinea, then,” he remarked with studied indifference.
“You must allow me to make it a little more than that,” the patient answered. “Your treatment was worth it. I feel perfectly recovered already. Good night, sir!”
The doctor’s eyes sparkled as he glanced at the gold which his visitor had laid upon the table.
“You are very good, I’m sure,” he murmured. “I hope you will have a comfortable journey. With a nerve like yours, you’ll be all right in a day or so.”
He let his patient out and watched him depart with some curiosity, watched until the great motor-car had swung round the corner of the street and started on its journey to London.
“No bicycle there,” he remarked to himself, as he closed the door. “I wonder what they did with it.”
It was already a little past the customary luncheon hour at the Carlton, and the restaurant was well filled. The orchestra had played their first selection, and the stream of incoming guests had begun to slacken. A young lady who had been sitting in the palm court for at least half an hour rose to her feet, and, glancing casually at her watch, made her way into the hotel. She entered the office and addressed the chief reception clerk.
“Can you tell me,” she asked, “if Mr. Hamilton Fynes is staying here? He should have arrived by the Lusitania last night or early this morning.”
It is not the business of a hotel reception clerk to appear surprised at anything. Nevertheless the man looked at her, for a moment, with a curious expression in his eyes.
“Mr. Hamilton Fynes!” he repeated. “Did you say that you were expecting him by the Lusitania, madam?”
“Yes!” the young lady answered. “He asked me to lunch with him here today. Can you tell me whether he has arrived yet? If he is in his room, I should be glad if you would send up to him.”
There were several people in the office who were in a position to overhear their conversation. With a word of apology, the man came round from his place behind the mahogany counter. He stood by the side of the young lady, and he seemed to be suffering from some embarrassment.
“Will you pardon my asking, madam, if you have seen the newspapers this morning?” he inquired.
Without a doubt, her first thought was that the question savored of impertinence. She looked at him with slightly upraised eyebrows. She was slim, of medium complexion, with dark brown hair parted in the middle and waving a little about her temples. She was irreproachably dressed, from the tips of her patent shoes to the black feathers in her Paris hat.
“The newspapers!” she repeated. “Why, no, I don’t think that I have seen them this morning. What have they to do with Mr. Hamilton Fynes?”