The Duke threw away his cigarette.
“Well,” he said, “we can only do our best. The young man seems friendly enough.”
The Prime Minister nodded.
“It is precisely his friendliness which I fear,” he said.
Mr. James B. Coulson was almost as much at home at the Grand Hotel, Paris, as he had been at the Savoy in London. His headquarters were at the American Bar, where he approved of the cocktails, patronized the highballs, and continually met fellow-countrymen with whom he gossiped and visited various places of amusement. His business during the daytime he kept to himself, but he certainly was possessed of a bagful of documents and drawings relating to sundry patents connected with the manufacture of woollen goods, the praises of which he was always ready to sing in a most enthusiastic fashion.
Mr. Coulson was not a man whose acquaintance it was difficult to make. From five to seven every afternoon, scorning the attractions of the band outside and the generally festive air which pervaded the great tea rooms, he sat at the corner of the bar upon an article of furniture which resembled more than anything else an office stool, dividing his attention between desultory conversation with any other gentleman who might be indulging in a drink, and watching the billiards in which some of his compatriots were usually competing. It was not, so far as one might judge, a strenuous life which Mr. Coulson was leading. He had been known once or twice to yawn, and he had somewhat the appearance of a man engaged in an earnest but at times not altogether successful attempt to kill time. Perhaps for that reason he made acquaintances with a little more than his customary freedom. There was a young Englishman, for instance, whose name, it appeared, was Gaynsforth, with whom, after a drink or two at the bar, he speedily became on almost intimate terms.
Mr. Gaynsforth was a young man, apparently of good breeding and some means. He was well dressed, of cheerful disposition, knew something about the woollen trade, and appeared to take a distinct liking to his new friend. The two men, after having talked business together for some time, arranged to dine together and have what they called a gay evening. They retired to their various apartments to change, Mr. Gaynsforth perfectly well satisfied with his progress, Mr. James B. Coulson with a broad grin upon his face.
After a very excellent dinner, for which Mr. Gaynsforth insisted upon paying, they went to the Folies Bergeres, where the Englishman developed a thirst which, considering the coolness of the evening, was nothing short of amazing. Mr. Coulson, however, kept pace with him steadily, and toward midnight their acquaintance had steadily progressed until they were certainly on friendly if not affectionate terms. A round of the supper places, proposed by the Englishman, was