when suddenly a well-dressed gent engaged in heated
argument and roundly to abuse began another well-dressed
gentleman. His suede-gloved fist he raised on high to dot
the other in the eye. Who knows what horrors might have
been, had there not come upon the scene old London city’s
favourite son, Policeman C. 231. ’What means this conduct?
Prithee stop!’ exclaimed that admirable slop. With which he
placed a warning hand upon the brawler’s collarband. We
simply hate to tell the rest. No subject here for flippant
jest. The mere remembrance of the tale has made our ink
turn deadly pale. Let us be brief. Some demon sent stark
madness on the well-dressed gent. He gave the constable a
punch just where the latter kept his lunch. The constable
said ‘Well! Well! Well!’ and marched him to a dungeon cell.
At Vine Street Station out it came—Lord Belpher was the
culprit’s name. But British Justice is severe alike on
pauper and on peer; with even hand she holds the scale; a
thumping fine, in lieu of gaol, induced Lord B. to feel
remorse and learn he mustn’t punch the Force.”
George’s mutton chop congealed on the plate, untouched. The French fried potatoes cooled off, unnoticed. This was no time for food. Rightly indeed had he relied upon his luck. It had stood by him nobly. With this clue, all was over except getting to the nearest Free Library and consulting Burke’s Peerage. He paid his bill and left the restaurant.
Ten minutes later he was drinking in the pregnant information that Belpher was the family name of the Earl of Marshmoreton, and that the present earl had one son, Percy Wilbraham Marsh, educ. Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, and what the book with its customary curtness called “one d.”—Patricia Maud. The family seat, said Burke, was Belpher Castle, Belpher, Hants.
Some hours later, seated in a first-class compartment of a train that moved slowly out of Waterloo Station, George watched London vanish behind him. In the pocket closest to his throbbing heart was a single ticket to Belpher.
At about the time that George Bevan’s train was leaving Waterloo, a grey racing car drew up with a grinding of brakes and a sputter of gravel in front of the main entrance of Belpher Castle. The slim and elegant young man at the wheel removed his goggles, pulled out a watch, and addressed the stout young man at his side.
“Two hours and eighteen minutes from Hyde Park Corner, Boots. Not so dusty, what?”
His companion made no reply. He appeared to be plunged in thought. He, too, removed his goggles, revealing a florid and gloomy face, equipped, in addition to the usual features, with a small moustache and an extra chin. He scowled forbiddingly at the charming scene which the goggles had hidden from him.