He mixed some for himself, and after drinking it he wiped his lips with a handkerchief. As he returned it to his pocket Jack saw on the white linen a brown stain that he was sure had not been there before.
M. Felix Marchand looked at his watch, shook hands with Jack, and hoped that he would have the pleasure of seeing him again. Then he bowed ceremoniously, and was gone, carrying the parcel under his arm. Jack closed the door, and retired to an inner room to change his clothing for the evening.
“I’ll have a grill at the Trocadero,” he told himself, “and drop in at the Alhambra for the last few numbers. A queer chap, that Frenchman! Where did he pick up such good English? He was all right, of course, but I can’t help feeling a bit puzzled. Fancy his taking a craze for my studies of Paris! I remember that they gathered dust for months in old Cambon’s window, until one day I missed them. It’s a funny thing about that brown mark which came off on his handkerchief after he wiped his mustache. Still, I’ve known men to use such stuff to give them a healthy color, though this chap didn’t look as if he needed it. And he said he suffered from a chest complaint.”
* * * * *
At eight o’clock Jack was up and splashing in his bath, a custom that he hugely enjoyed, winter and summer. He had come home the night before by the last train, after dining with some friends he had picked up, and spending an hour with them at the Alhambra.
He dressed himself with unusual care and discrimination, selecting a suit of dark brown tweeds that matched his complexion, and a scarf with a good bit of red in it. Prepared for him in the studio, and presided over by Alphonse in a white apron, were rolls and coffee, eggs and bacon. The sun was shining brightly outside. The postman came while he was at breakfast, and he read his batch of letters; from some of which dropped checks. One he purposely saved for the last, and the contents—only a few lines—brought a smile to his lips. He tore the dainty sheet of note-paper into small pieces and threw them into the fire. Then he filled his cigar case with choice Regalias, pulled on his driving gloves, and perched a jaunty Alpine hat on his head.
“Alphonse, you must be here all day,” he said. “Mordaunt, of the Frivolity, will send for that poster; and a messenger may come from the Piccadilly Magazine—the drawings are in a parcel on my desk. Say to any person who calls that I will not be back until evening.”
“I will remember,” assured Alphonse.
“By the by, Alphonse, you were living in a big house in the Parc Monceaux half a dozen years ago?”
“Monsieur is right.”
“Do you remember a gentleman by the name of Marchand—M. Felix Marchand?”
“My memory may be at fault,” Alphonse answered, “but I do not recall a person of that name.”
“Well, no matter. He may not have resided there then, and the Parc Monceaux means a large neighborhood.”