“So far as my impressions go,” Hamel replied, “everything which you have suggested might very well be true. I think that either out of sheer love of mischief, or from some subtler motive, he is capable of anything. Every one in the place, except one poor woman, seems to look upon him as a sort of supernatural being. He gives money away to worthless people with both hands. Yet I share your opinion of him. I believe that he is a creature without conscience or morals. I have sat at his table and shivered when he has smiled.”
“Are you staying at St. David’s Hall now?”
“I left yesterday.”
“Where are you now, then?”
“I am at St. David’s Tower—the little place I told you of that belonged to my father—but I don’t know whether I shall be able to stop there. Mr. Fentolin, for some reason or other, very much resented my leaving the Hall and was very annoyed at my insisting upon claiming the Tower. When I went down to the village to get some one to come up and look after me, there wasn’t a woman there who would come. It didn’t matter what I offered, they were all the same. They all muttered some excuse or other, and seemed only anxious to show me out. At the village shop they seemed to hate to serve me with anything. It was all I could do to get a packet of tobacco yesterday afternoon. You would really think that I was the most unpopular person who ever lived, and it can only be because of Mr. Fentolin’s influence.”
“Mr. Fentolin evidently doesn’t like to have you in the locality,” Kinsley remarked thoughtfully.
“He was all right so long as I was at St. David’s Hall,” Hamel observed.
“What’s this little place like—St. David’s Tower, you call it?” Kinsley asked.
“Just a little stone building actually on the beach,” Hamel explained. “There is a large shed which Mr. Fentolin keeps locked up, and the habitable portion consists just of a bedroom and sitting-room. From what I can see, Mr. Fentolin has been making a sort of hobby of the place. There is telephonic communication with the house, and he seems to have used the sitting-room as a sort of studio. He paints sea pictures and really paints them very well.”
A man came into the coffee-room, made some enquiry of the waiter and went out again. Hamel stared at him in a puzzled manner. For the moment he could only remember that the face was familiar. Then he suddenly gave vent to a little exclamation.
“Any one would think that I had been followed,” he remarked. “The man who has just looked into the room is one of Mr. Fentolin’s parasites or bodyguards, or whatever you call them.”
“You probably have,” Kinsley agreed. “What post does he hold in the household?”
“I have no idea,” Hamel replied. “I saw him the first day I arrived and not since. Sort of secretary, I should think.”
“He is a queer-looking fellow, anyway,” Kinsley muttered. “Look out, Dick. Here he comes back again.”