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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 244 pages of information about The Vanished Messenger.
waiting, by a curious sense of unreality, as though he were taking part in some strange tableau.  There was something unreal about his surroundings and his own presence there; something unreal in the atmosphere, charged as it seemed to be with some omen of impending happenings; something unreal in that whispered warning, those few hoarsely uttered words which had stolen to his hearing across the clusters of drooping roses; the absurd babble of the woman, who sat there with tragic things under the powder with which her face was daubed.

“Koto must learn to sit upon his tail—­like that.  No, not another grape till he sits up.  There, then!”

She was leaning forward with a grape between her teeth, towards the tiny animal who was trying in vain to balance his absurdly shaped little body upon the tablecloth.  Hamel, without looking around, knew quite well what was happening.  Soon he heard the click of the chair.  Mr. Fentolin was back in his place.  His skin seemed paler and more parchment-like than ever.  His eyes glittered.

“It seems,” he announced quietly, as he raised his wine-glass to his lips with the air of one needing support, “that we entertained an angel unawares here.  This Mr. Dunster is lost for the second time.  A very important personage he turns out to be.”

“You mean the American whom Gerald brought home after the accident?” Mrs. Fentolin asked carelessly.

Mr. Fentolin replied.  “He insisted upon continuing his journey before he was strong enough.  I warned him of what might happen.  He has evidently been take ill somewhere.  It seems that he was on his way to The Hague.”

“Do you mean that he has disappeared altogether this time?” Hamel asked.

Mr. Fentolin shook his head.

“No, he has found his way to The Hague safely enough.  He is lying there at a hotel in the city, but he is unconscious.  There is some talk about his having been robbed on the way.  At any rate, they are tracing his movements backwards.  We are to be honoured with a visit from one of Scotland Yard’s detectives, to reconstruct his journey from here.  Our quiet little corner of the world is becoming quite notorious.  Florence dear, you are tired.  I can see it in your eyes.  Your headache continues, I am sure.  We will not be selfish.  Mr. Hamel and I are going to have a long evening in the library.  Let me recommend a phenacetin and bed.”

She rose at once to her feet, with a dog under either arm.

“I’ll take the phenacetin,” she promised, “but I hate going to bed early.  Shall I see you again, I wonder, Mr. Hamel?”

“Not this evening, I fear,” he answered.  “I am going to ask Mr. Fentolin to excuse me early.”

She passed out of the room.  Hamel escorted her as far as the door and then returned.  Mr. Fentolin was sitting quite still in his chair.  His eyes were fixed upon the tablecloth.  He looked up quickly as Hamel resumed his seat.

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