Soames raised his head drearily; he felt himself in the toils; he felt himself a mined man.
“It isn’t a salary,” he began, “which"...
“My dear Mr. Soames,” said Gianapolis, tapping him confidentially upon the knee again—“my dear Soames, it isn’t the salary, I admit, which you enjoyed whilst in the services of Colonel Hewett in a similar capacity. But this is not a large establishment, and the duties are light. Furthermore, there will be—extras.”
Mr. Soames’ eye brightened, and under the benignant influence of the cocktails his courage began to return.
“I do not refer,” smiled Mr. Gianapolis, “to perquisites! The extras will be monetary. Another two pounds per week"...
“Bringing your salary up to a nice round figure; the additional amount will be paid to you from another source. You will receive the latter payment quarterly"...
“From me!” said Mr. Gianapolis, smiling radiantly. “Now, I know you are going to accept; that is understood between us. I will give you the address—Palace Mansions, Westminster—at which you must apply; and I will tell you what little services will be required from you in return for this additional emolument.”
Mr. Soames hurriedly finished his second cocktail. Mr. Gianapolis, in true sporting fashion, kept pace with him and repeated the order.
“You will take charge of the mail!” he whispered softly, one irregular eye following the movements of the barmaid, and the other fixed almost fiercely upon the face of Soames. “At certain times—of which you will be notified in advance—Mrs. Leroux will pay visits to Paris. At such times, all letters addressed to her, or re-addressed to her, will not be posted! You will ring me up when such letters come into your possession—they must all come into your possession!—and I will arrange to meet you, say at the corner of Victoria Street, to receive them. You understand?”
Mr. Soames understood, and thus far found his plastic conscience marching in step with his inclinations.
“Then,” resumed Gianapolis, “prior to her departure on these occasions, Mrs. Leroux will hand you a parcel. This also you will bring to me at the place arranged. Do you find anything onerous in these conditions?”
“Not at all,” muttered Soames, a trifle unsteadily; “it seems all right”—the cocktails were beginning to speak now, and his voice was a duet—“simply perfectly all right—all square.”
“Good!” said Mr. Gianapolis with his radiant smile; and the gaze of his left eye, crossing that of its neighbor, observed the entrance of a stranger into the bar. He drew his stool closer and lowered his voice:
“Mrs. Leroux,” he continued, “will be in your confidence. Mr. Leroux and every one else—every one else—must not suspect the arrangement"...