“Th’ round-headed one.”
Forbes drew the key aside and laid it evenly against the one Crawford had left in his keeping.
“What’s th’ matter?”
“He’s come back!”—in a whisper.
“You’re a keen one! Ye-up; Crawford’s valet Mason is visiting in town.”
There are many threads and many knots in a net; these can not be thrown together haphazard, lest the big fish slip through. At the bottom of the net is a small steel ring, and here the many threads and the many knots finally meet. Forbes and Haggerty (who, by the way, thinks I’m a huge joke as a novelist) and the young man named Webb recounted this tale to me by threads and knots. The ring was of Kitty Killigrew, for Kitty Killigrew, by Kitty Killigrew, to paraphrase a famous line.
At one of the quieter hotels—much patronized by touring Englishmen—there was registered James Thornden and man. Every afternoon Mr. Thornden and his man rode about town in a rented touring car. The man would bundle his master’s knees in a rug and take the seat at the chauffeur’s side, and from there direct the journey. Generally they drove through the park, up and down Riverside, and back to the hotel in time for tea. Mr. Thornden drank tea for breakfast along with his bacon and eggs, and at luncheon with his lamb or mutton chops, and at five o’clock with especially baked muffins and apple-tarts.
Mr. Thornden never gave orders personally; his man always attended to that. The master would, early each morning, outline the day’s work, and the man would see to it that these instructions were fulfilled to the letter. He was an excellent servant, by the way, light of foot, low of voice, serious of face, with a pair of eyes which I may liken to nothing so well as to a set of acetylene blow-pipes—bored right through you.
The master was middle-aged, about the same height and weight as his valet. He wore a full dark beard, something after the style of the early eighties of last century. His was also a serious countenance, tanned, dignified too; but his eyes were no match for his valet’s; too dreamy, introspective. Screwed in his left eye was a monocle down from which flowed a broad ribbon. In public he always wore it; no one about the hotel had as yet seen him without it, and he had been a guest there for more than a fortnight.
He drank nothing in the way of liquor, though his man occasionally wandered into the bar and ordered a stout or an ale. After dinner the valet’s time appeared to be his own; for he went out nearly every night. He seemed very much interested in shop-windows, especially those which were filled with curios. Mr. Thornden frequently went to the theater, but invariably alone.
Thus, they attracted little or no attention among the clerks and bell boys and waiters who had, in the course of the year, waited upon the wants of a royal duke and a grand duke, to say nothing of a maharajah, who was still at the hotel. An ordinary touring Englishman was, then, nothing more than that.