Peter Ruff and the Double Four
II.8. The Man Behind The Curtain
Peter, Baron de Grost, glanced at the card which his butler had brought in to him,
carelessly at first, afterwards with that curious rigidity of attention which usually
denotes the setting free of a flood of memories.
"The gentleman would like to see you, sir," the man announced.
"You can show him in at once," Peter replied. The servant withdrew. Peter,
during those few minutes of waiting, stood with his back to the room and his face
to the window, looking out across the square, in reality seeing nothing,
completely immersed in this strange flood of memories. John Dory - Sir John
Dory now - his quondam enemy, and he, had met but seldom during these years
of their prosperity. The figure of this man, who had once loomed so largely in his
life, had gradually shrunk away into the background. Their avoidance of each
other arose, perhaps, from a sort of instinct which was certainly no matter of ill-
will. Still, the fact remained that they had scarcely exchanged a word for years,
and Peter turned to receive his unexpected guest with a curiosity which he did
not trouble wholly to conceal.
Sir John Dory - Chief Commissioner now of Scotland Yard, a person of weight
and importance - had changed a great deal during the last few years. His hair
had become gray, his walk more dignified. There was the briskness, however, of
his best days in his carriage and in the flash of his brown eyes. He held out his
hand to his ancient foe with a smile.
"My dear Baron," he said, "I hope you are going to say that you are glad to see
"Unless," Peter replied, with a good-humored grimace, "your visit is official, I am
more than glad - I am charmed. Sit down. I was just going to take my morning
cigar. You will join me? Good! Now I am ready for the worst that can happen."