27. An Inspiration
Inspector Aylesbury had disappeared when I came out of the hall, but Pedro was
standing there to remind me of the fact that I had not breakfasted. I realized that
despite all tragic happenings, I was ravenously hungry, and accordingly I agreed
to his proposal that I should take breakfast on the south veranda, as on the
To the south veranda accordingly I made my way, rather despising myself
because I was capable of hunger at such a time and amidst such horrors. The
daily papers were on my table, for Carter drove into Market Hilton every morning
to meet the London train which brought them down; but I did not open any of
Pedro waited upon me in person. I could see that the man was pathetically
anxious to talk. Accordingly, when he presently brought me a fresh supply of hot
"This has been a dreadful blow to you, Pedro?" I said.
"Dreadful, sir," he returned; "fearful. I lose a splendid master, I lose my place,
and I am far, far from home."
"You are from Cuba?"
"Yes, yes. I was with Senor the Colonel Don Juan in Cuba."
"And do you know anything of the previous attempts which had been made upon
his life, Pedro?"
"Nothing, sir. Nothing at all."
"But the bat wing, Pedro?"
He looked at me in a startled way.
"Yes, sir," he replied. "I found it pinned to the door here."
"And what did you think it meant?"
"I thought it was a joke, sir--not a nice joke--by someone who knew Cuba."
"You know the meaning of Bat Wing, then?"
"It is Obeah. I have never seen it before, but I have heard of it."
"And what did you think?" said I, proceeding with my breakfast.
"I thought it was meant to frighten."
"But who did you think had done it?"
"I had heard Senor Don Juan say that Mr. Camber hated him, so I thought
perhaps he had sent someone to do it."
"But why should Mr. Camber have hated the Colonel?"
"I cannot say, sir. I wish I could tell."
"Was your master popular in the West Indies?" I asked.
"Well, sir--" Pedro hesitated--"perhaps not so well liked."
"No," I said. "I had gathered as much."
The man withdrew, and I continued my solitary meal, listening to the song of the
skylarks, and thinking how complex was human existence, compared with any
other form of life beneath the sun.