“Do you still hope to discover the Bow murderer?” he asked the old bloodhound.
“I can lay my hand on him now,” Grodman announced curtly.
Denzil hitched his chair back involuntarily. He found conversation with detectives as lively as playing at skittles with bombshells. They got on his nerves terribly, these undemonstrative gentlemen with no sense of the Beautiful.
“But why don’t you give him up to justice?” he murmured.
“Ah—it has to be proved yet. But it is only a matter of time.”
“Oh!” said Denzil, “and shall I write the story for you?”
“No. You will not live long enough.”
Denzil turned white. “Nonsense! I am years younger than you,” he gasped.
“Yes,” said Grodman, “but you drink so much.”
When Wimp invited Grodman to eat his Christmas plum-pudding at King’s Cross, Grodman was only a little surprised. The two men were always overwhelmingly cordial when they met, in order to disguise their mutual detestation. When people really like each other, they make no concealment of their mutual contempt. In his letter to Grodman, Wimp said that he thought it might be nicer for him to keep Christmas in company than in solitary state. There seems to be a general prejudice in favour of Christmas numbers, and Grodman yielded to it. Besides, he thought that a peep at the Wimp domestic interior would be as good as a pantomime. He quite enjoyed the fun that was coming, for he knew that Wimp had not invited him out of mere “peace and goodwill.”
There was only one other guest at the festive board. This was Wimp’s wife’s mother’s mother, a lady of sweet seventy. Only a minority of mankind can obtain a grandmother-in-law by marrying, but Wimp was not unduly conceited. The old lady suffered from delusions. One of them was that she was a centenarian. She dressed for the part. It is extraordinary what pains ladies will take to conceal their age. Another of Wimp’s grandmother-in-law’s delusions was that Wimp had married to get her into the family. Not to frustrate his design, she always gave him her company on high-days and holidays. Wilfred Wimp—the little boy who stole the jam—was in great form at the Christmas dinner. The only drawback to his enjoyment was that its sweets needed no stealing. His mother presided over the platters, and thought how much cleverer Grodman was than her husband. When the pretty servant who waited on them was momentarily out of the room, Grodman had remarked that she seemed very inquisitive. This coincided with Mrs. Wimp’s own convictions, though Mr. Wimp could never be brought to see anything unsatisfactory or suspicious about the girl, not even though there were faults in spelling in the “character” with which her last mistress had supplied her.