“Well, a voluntary disappearance is better than an involuntary one,” Francis remarked. “What was his usual programme when he left the office?”
“He either went to Queen’s and played racquets, or he went straight to his gymnasium in the Holborn. I telephoned to Queen’s. He didn’t call there on the Wednesday night, anyhow.”
“Where’s the gymnasium?”
“At 147 a Holborn. A lot of city young men go there late in the evening, but Reggie got off earlier than most of them and used to have the place pretty well to himself. I think that’s why he stuck to it.”
Francis made a note of the address.
“I’ll get Shopland to step down there some time,” he said. “Or better still, finish your lunch and we’ll take a taxi there ourselves. I’m going to the country later on, but I’ve half-an-hour to spare. We can go without our coffee and be there in ten minutes.”
“A great idea,” Wilmore acquiesced. “It’s probably the last place Reggie visited, anyway.”
The gymnasium itself was a source of immense surprise to both Francis and Wilmore. It stretched along the entire top storey of a long block of buildings, and was elaborately fitted with bathrooms, a restaurant and a reading-room. The trapezes, bars, and all the usual appointments were of the best possible quality. The manager, a powerful-looking man dressed with the precision of the prosperous city magnate, came out of his office to greet them.
“What can I do for you, gentlemen?” he enquired.
“First of all,” Francis replied, “accept our heartiest congratulations upon your wonderful gymnasium.”
The man bowed.
“It is the best appointed in the country, sir,” he said proudly. “Absolutely no expense has been spared in fitting it up. Every one of our appliances is of the latest possible description, and our bathrooms are an exact copy of those in a famous Philadelphia club.”
“What is the subscription?” Wilmore asked.
“Five shillings a year.”
“And how many members?”
The manager smiled as he saw his two visitors exchange puzzled glances.
“Needless to say, sir,” he added, “we are not self-supporting. We have very generous patrons.”
“I lave heard my brother speak of this place as being quite wonderful,” Wilmore remarked, “but I had no idea that it was upon this scale.”
“Is your brother a member?” the man asked.
“He is. To tell you the truth, we came here to ask you a question about him.”
“What is his name?”
“Reginald Wilmore. He was here, I think, last Wednesday night.”
While Wilmore talked, Francis watched. He was conscious of a curious change in the man’s deportment at the mention of Reginald Wilmore’s name. From being full of bumptious, almost condescending good-nature, his expression had changed into one of stony incivility. There was something almost sinister in the tightly-closed lips and the suspicious gleam in his eyes.