Karl Breitmann! Fitzgerald pulled off a shoe, and carefully deposited it on the floor beside his chair. Private secretary to Rear Admiral Killigrew, retired; Karl Breitmann! He drew off the second shoe, and placed it, with military preciseness, close to the first. Absently, he rose, with the intention of putting the pair in the hall, but remembered before he got as far as the door that it was not customary in America to put one’s shoes outside in the halls. Ultimately, they would have been stolen or have remained there till the trump of doom.
Could there be two Breitmanns by the name of Karl? Here and there, across the world, he had heard of Breitmann, but never had he seen him since that meeting in Paris. And, simply because he had proved to be an enthusiastic student of Napoleon, like himself, he had taken the man to dinner. But that was nothing. Under the same circumstances he would have done the same thing again. There had been something fascinating about the fellow, either his voice or his manner. And there could be no doubting that he had been at ebb tide; the shiny coat, the white, but ragged linen, the cracked patent leathers.
A baron, and to reach the humble grade of private secretary to an eccentric millionaire—for the admiral, with all his kindliness and common sense, was eccentric—this was a fall. Where were his newspapers? There was a dignity to foreign work, even though in Europe the pay is small. There was trouble going on here and there, petty wars and political squabbles. Yes, where were his newspapers? Had he tried New York? If not, in that case, he—Fitzgerald—could be of some solid assistance. And Cathewe knew him, or had met him.
Fitzgerald had buffeted the high and low places; he seldom made mistakes in judging men offhand, an art acquired only after many initial blunders. This man Breitmann was no sham; he was a scholar, a gentleman, a fine linguist, versed in politics and war. Well, the little mystery would be brushed aside in the morning. Breitmann would certainly recognize him.
But to have forgotten the girl! To have permitted a course of events to discover her! Shameful! He jumped into bed, and pulled the coverlet close to his nose, and was soon asleep, sleep broken by fantastic dreams, in which the past and present mixed with the improbable chances of the future.
Thump-thump, thump-thump! To Fitzgerald’s fogged hearing, it was like the pulse beating in the bowels of a ship, only that it stopped and began at odd intervals, intermittently. At the fourth recurrence, he sat up, to find that it was early morning, and that the sea lay; gray and leaden, under the pearly haze of dawn. Thump-thump! He rubbed his eyes, and laughed. It could be no less a person than the old sailor in the summer-yachting toggery. Drat ’em! These sailors were always trying to beat sun-up. At length, the peg left the room above, and banged along the hall and bumped down the stairs. Then all became still once more, and the listener snuggled under the covers again, and slept soundly till eight. Outside, the day was full, clear, and windy.