Mr. Coulson set down his suitcase for a moment, to light a cigar.
“Well, if I did know the poor fellow just to nod to,” he said, “I don’t see that’s any reason why I should talk about him to you newspaper fellows. You’d better get hold of his relations, if you can find them.”
“But, my dear Mr. Coulson,” the young man said, “we haven’t any idea where they are to be found, and in the meantime you can’t imagine what reports are in circulation.”
“Guess I can figure them out pretty well,” Mr. Coulson remarked with a smile. “We’ve got an evening press of our own in New York.”
The reporter nodded.
“Well,” he said, “They’d be able to stretch themselves out a bit on a case like this. You see,” he continued confidentially, “we are up against something almost unique. Here is an astounding and absolutely inexplicable murder, committed in a most dastardly fashion by a person who appears to have vanished from the face of the earth. Not a single thing is known about the victim except his name. We do not know whether he came to England on business or pleasure. He may, in short, have been any one from a millionaire to a newspaper man. Judging from his special train,” the reporter concluded with a smile, “and the money which was found upon him, I imagine that he was certainly not the latter.”
Mr. Coulson went on his way toward the exit from the station, puffing contentedly at his big cigar.
“Well,” he said to his companion, who showed not the slightest disposition to leave his side, “it don’t seem to me that there’s much worth repeating about poor Fynes,—much that I knew, at any rate. Still, if you like to get in a cab with me and ride as far as the Savoy, I’ll tell you what I can.”
“You are a brick, sir,” the young man declared. “Haven’t you any luggage, though?”
“I checked what I had through from Liverpool to the hotel,” Mr. Coulson answered. “I can’t stand being fussed around by all these porters, and having to go and take pot luck amongst a pile of other people’s baggage. We’ll just take one of these two-wheeled sardine tins that you people call hansoms, and get round to the hotel as quick as we can. There are a few pals of mine generally lunch in the cafe there, and they mayn’t all have cleared out if we look alive.”
They started a moment or two later. Mr. Coulson leaned forward and, folding his arms upon the apron of the cab, looked about him with interest.
“Say,” he remarked, removing his cigar to the corner of his mouth in order to facilitate conversation, “this old city of yours don’t change any.”
“Not up in this part, perhaps,” the reporter agreed. “We’ve some fine new buildings down toward the Strand.”
Mr. Coulson nodded.
“Well,” he said, “I guess you don’t want to be making conversation. You want to know about Hamilton Fynes. I was just acquainted with him, and that’s a fact, but I reckon you’ll have to find some one who knows a good deal more than I do before you’ll get the stuff you want for your paper.”