I.5. The Allegorical Practical Joker
The criminal specialist who had come with Dr. Warner was a somewhat more
urbane and even dapper figure than he had appeared when clutching the railings
and craning his neck into the garden. He even looked comparatively young when
he took his hat off, having fair hair parted in the middle and carefully curled on
each side, and lively movements, especially of the hands. He had a dandified
monocle slung round his neck by a broad black ribbon, and a big bow tie, as if a
big American moth had alighted on him. His dress and gestures were bright
enough for a boy's; it was only when you looked at the fish-bone face that you
beheld something acrid and old. His manners were excellent, though hardly
English, and he had two half-conscious tricks by which people who only met him
once remembered him. One was a trick of closing his eyes when he wished to be
particularly polite; the other was one of lifting his joined thumb and forefinger in
the air as if holding a pinch of snuff, when he was hesitating or hovering over a
word. But hose who were longer in his company tended to forget these oddities
in the stream of his quaint and solemn conversation and really singular views.
"Miss Hunt," said Dr. Warner, "this is Dr. Cyrus Pym."
Dr. Cyrus Pym shut his eyes during the introduction, rather as if he were "playing
fair" in some child's game, and gave a prompt little bow, which somehow
suddenly revealed him as a citizen of the United States.
"Dr. Cyrus Pym," continued Warner (Dr. Pym shut his eyes again), "is perhaps
the first criminological expert of America. We are very fortunate to be able to
consult with him in this extraordinary case--"
"I can't make head or tail of anything," said Rosamund. "How can poor Mr. Smith
be so dreadful as he is by your account?"
"Or by your telegram," said Herbert Warner, smiling.