‘I won’t go,’ he said, determinedly.
Vandeloup looked at him with a peculiar gleam in his dark eyes, and bowed.
‘Let me persuade you, Monsieur,’ he said, blandly, holding the door of the cab open.
Meddlechip glanced at him, and then, with a sigh of resignation, entered the cab, followed by Vandeloup.
‘Where to, sir?’ asked the cabman, through the trap.
‘To Leslie’s Supper Rooms,’ replied the Frenchman, and the cab drove off.
THE CASE OF ADELE BLONDET
Leslie’s Supper Rooms in Bourke Street East were very well known— that is, among a certain class. Religious people and steady businessmen knew nothing about such a place except by reputation, and looked upon it, with horror, as a haunt of vice and dissipation.
Though Leslie’s, in common with other places had to close at a certain hour, yet when the shutters were up, the door closed, and the lights extinguished in the front of the house, there was plenty of life and bustle going on at the back, where there were charmingly furnished little rooms for supper parties. Barty Jarper had engaged one of these apartments, and with about a dozen young men was having a good time of it when Vandeloup and Meddlechip drove up. After dismissing the cab and looking up and down the street to see that no policeman was in sight, Vandeloup knocked at the door in a peculiar manner, and it was immediately opened in a stealthy kind of way. Gaston gave his name, whereupon they were allowed to enter, and the door was closed after them in the same quiet manner, all of which was very distasteful to Mr Meddlechip, who, being a public man and a prominent citizen, felt that he was breaking the laws he had assisted to make. He looked round in some disgust at the crowds of waiters, and at the glimpses he caught every now and then of gentlemen in evening dress, and what annoyed him more than anything else—ladies in bright array. Oh! a dissipated place was Leslie’s, and even in the daytime had a rakish-looking appearance as if it had been up all night and knew a thing or two. Mr Meddlechip would have retreated from this den of iniquity if he could, but as he wanted to have a thorough explanation with Vandeloup, he meekly followed the Frenchman through a well-lighted passage, with statues on either side holding lamps, to a little room beautifully furnished, wherein a supper table was laid out. Here the waiter who conducted them took their hats and Meddlechip’s coat and hung them up, then waited respectfully for M. Vandeloup to give his orders. A portly looking waiter he was, with a white waistcoat, a white shirt, which bulged out in a most obtrusive manner, and a large white cravat, which was tied round an equally large white collar. When he walked he rolled along like a white-crested wave, and with his napkin under his arm, the heel of one foot in the hollow of the other, and his large red face, surmounted by a few straggling tufts of black hair, he was truly wonderful to behold.