“To see—Mr. King!” he breathed. “My dear friend, I declare to you by all that I hold sacred that I—though one of the earliest patrons of the first establishment, that in Pekin—have never seen Mr. King!”
“He is so cautious and so clever as that?”
“Even as cautious and even as clever—yes! Though every branch of the enterprise in the world were destroyed, no man would ever see Mr. King; he would remain but a name!”
“You will arrange for me to visit the house of—Ho-Pin, did you say?—immediately?”
“To-day, if you wish,” said Gianapolis, brightly.
“My funds,” continued M. Gaston, shrugging his shoulders, “are not limitless at the moment; and until I receive a remittance from Paris"...
The brow of Mr. Gianapolis darkened slightly.
“Our clientele here,” he replied, “is a very wealthy one, and the fees are slightly higher than in Paris. An entrance fee of fifty guineas is charged, and an annual subscription of the same amount"...
“But,” exclaimed M. Gaston, “I shall not be in London for so long as a year! In a week or a fortnight from now, I shall be on my way to America!”
“You will receive an introduction to the New York representative, and your membership will be available for any of the United States establishments.”
“But I am going to South America.”
“At Buenos Aires is one of the largest branches.”
“But I am not going to Buenos Aires! I am going with a prospecting party to Yucatan.”
“You must be well aware, monsieur, that to go to Yucatan is to exile yourself from all that life holds for you.”
“I can take a supply"...
“You will die, monsieur! Already you suffer abominably"...
“I do not suffer because of any lack of the specific,” said M. Gaston wearily; “for if I were entirely unable to obtain possession of it, I should most certainly die. But I suffer because, living as I do at present in a public hotel, I am unable to embark upon a protracted voyage into those realms which hold so much for me"...
“I offer you the means"...
“But to charge me one hundred guineas, since I cannot possibly avail myself of the full privileges, is to rob me—is to trade upon my condition!” M. Gaston was feebly indignant.
“Let it be twenty-five guineas, monsieur,” said the Greek, reflectively, “entitling you to two visits.”
“Good! good!” cried M. Gaston. “Shall I write you a check?”
“You mistake me,” said Gianapolis. “I am in no way connected with the management of the establishment. You will settle this business matter with Mr. Ho-Pin"...
“To whom I will introduce you this evening. Checks, as you must be aware, are unacceptable. I will meet you at Piccadilly Circus, outside the entrance to the London Pavilion, at nine o’clock this evening, and you will bring with you the twenty-five guineas in cash. You will arrange to absent yourself during the following day?”