Peter Ruff and the Double Four
I.5. Delilah From Streatham
It was a favourite theory with Peter Ruff that the morning papers received very
insufficient consideration from the majority of the British public. A glance at the
headlines and a few of the spiciest paragraphs, a vague look at the leading
article, and the sheets were thrown away to make room for more interesting
literature. It was not so with Peter Ruff. Novels he very seldom read - he did not,
in fact, appreciate the necessity for their existence. The whole epitome of modern
life was, he argued, to be found among the columns of the daily press. The police
news, perhaps, was his favourite study, but he did not neglect the
advertisements. It followed, therefore, as a matter of course, that the appeal of
"M" in the personal column of the Daily Mail was read by him on the morning of
its appearance - read not once only nor twice - it was a paragraph which had its
own peculiar interest for him.
Mr. Spencer Fitzgerald, if still in England, is requested to communicate with "M,"
at Vagali's Library, Cook's Alley, Ledham Street, Soho.
Peter Ruff laid the paper down upon his desk and looked steadily at a box of
India-rubber bands. Almost his fingers, as he parted with the newspaper, had
seemed to be shaking. His eyes were certainly set in an unusually retrospective
stare. Who was this who sought to probe his past, to renew an acquaintance with
a dead personality? "M" could be but one person! What did she want of him?
Was it possible that, after all, a little flame of sentiment had been kept alight in
her bosom, too - that in the quiet moments her thoughts had turned towards him
as his had so often done to her? Then a sudden idea - an ugly thought - drove
the tenderness from his face. She was no longer Maud Barnes - she was Mrs.
John Dory, and John Dory was his enemy! Could there be treachery lurking
beneath those simple lines? Things had not gone well with John Dory lately.
Somehow or other, his cases seemed to have crumpled into dust. He was no