“Oh, Ronnie,” she cried, “if you knew—”
But Ronnie had seen a bowler hat behind the hedge. He called its wearer forward.
“Mrs. West tells me you are my valet,” he said. “Kindly show me to my room.”
“HE MUST REMEMBER”
Dick arrived very early the next morning, having to be off again by the twelve o’clock train, in order to reach that evening the place where he was due to spend Christmas.
A telegram from Helen had prepared him for a change in Ronnie, but hardly for the complete restoration of mental balance which he saw in his friend, as they hailed one another at the railway station.
Ronnie had breakfasted early, in order to meet Dick’s train. He had said nothing of his plan to Helen, merely arranging his breakfast-hour overnight with the “valet.”
He walked to the station alone; but, arrived there, found the “valet” on the platform.
“Thought I might be wanted, sir, to carry the doctor’s bag,” he explained, touching his hat. But, just as the train rounded the bend, he remarked: “Better stand back a little, sir,” and took Ronnie firmly by the arm.
Ronnie could have knocked him down; but realised that this would be the surest way to find himself more than ever hedged in by precautions. So he stood back, in wrathful silence, and, as Dick’s gay face appeared at the window of a third-class smoker, the “valet” loosed his hold and disappeared. It may here be recorded that this was the last time Ronnie saw him. Apparently he found it necessary to carry Dr. Dick’s bag all the way back to town.
“Hullo, old chap!” cried Dick.
“Hullo, Dick!” said Ronnie. “This is better than Leipzig, old man. I’m all right. I must give you a new thermometer!”
“You shall,” said Dick. “After Christmas we’ll have a spree together in town and choose it. No need to tell me you ’re all right, Ronnie. It’s writ large on you, my boy. He who runs may read!”
“Well, I wish you’d write it large on other people,” said Ronnie, as they walked out of the station.
“What do you mean?”
“Dick, I’m having a devil of a time! There’s a smug chap in a bowler hat who is supposed to be my valet. When I went to bed last night, I found I had a decent room enough, opening out of the sitting-room. I was obviously expected to turn in there, asking no questions; so I turned in. But the valet person slept in a room communicating with mine. The latch and the lock of the door between, had been tampered with. The door wouldn’t shut, so I had to sleep all night with that fellow able to look in upon me at any moment. After I had been in bed a little while, I remembered something I had left in the sitting-room and wanted. I got up quietly to fetch it. That door was locked, on the sitting-room side!”