TWO GENTLEMEN who were in the lavatory at the time tried to lift him up: but he was
quite helpless. He lay curled up at the foot of the stairs down which he had fallen. They
succeeded in turning him over. His hat had rolled a few yards away and his clothes
were smeared with the filth and ooze of the floor on which he had lain, face downwards.
His eyes were closed and he breathed with a grunting noise. A thin stream of blood
trickled from the corner of his mouth.
These two gentlemen and one of the curates carried him up the stairs and laid him
down again on the floor of the bar. In two minutes he was surrounded by a ring of men.
The manager of the bar asked everyone who he was and who was with him. No one
knew who he was but one of the curates said he had served the gentleman with a small
"Was he by himself?" asked the manager.
"No, sir. There was two gentlemen with him."
"And where are they?"
No one knew; a voice said:
"Give him air. He's fainted."
The ring of onlookers distended and closed again elastically. A dark medal of blood had
formed itself near the man's head on the tessellated floor. The manager, alarmed by the
grey pallor of the man's face, sent for a policeman.
His collar was unfastened and his necktie undone. He opened eyes for an instant,
sighed and closed them again. One of gentlemen who had carried him upstairs held a
dinged silk hat in his hand. The manager asked repeatedly did no one know who the
injured man was or where had his friends gone. The door of the bar opened and an
immense constable entered. A crowd which had followed him down the laneway
collected outside the door, struggling to look in through the glass panels.
The manager at once began to narrate what he knew. The costable, a young man with
thick immobile features, listened. He moved his head slowly to right and left and from
the manager to the person on the floor, as if he feared to be the victim some delusion.
Then he drew off his glove, produced a small book from his waist, licked the lead of his
pencil and made ready to indite. He asked in a suspicious provincial accent:
"Who is the man? What's his name and address?"