The Evil Shepherd
There was a great deal of discussion, the following morning at the Sheridan Club, during
the gossipy half-hour which preceded luncheon, concerning Sir Timothy Brast's
forthcoming entertainment. One of the men, Philip Baker, who had been for many years
the editor of a famous sporting weekly, had a ticket of invitation which he displayed to an
envious little crowd.
"You fellows who get invitations to these parties," a famous actor declared, "are the most
elusive chaps on earth. Half London is dying to know what really goes on there, and yet,
if by any chance one comes across a prospective or retrospective guest, he is as dumb
about it as though it were some Masonic function. We've got you this time, Baler, though.
We'll put you under the inquisition on Friday morning."
"There a won't be any need," the other replied. "One hears a great deal of rot talked about
these affairs, but so far as I know, nothing very much out of the way goes on. There are
always one or two pretty stiff fights in the gymnasium, and you get the best variety show
and supper in the world."
"Why is there this aroma of mystery hanging about the affair, then?" some one asked.
"Well, for one or two reasons," Baker answered. "One, no doubt, is because Sir Timothy
has a great idea of arranging the fights himself, and the opponents actually don't know
until the fight begins whom they are meeting, and sometimes not even then. There has
been some gossiping, too, about the rules, and the weight of the gloves, but that I know,
"And the rest of the show?" a younger member enquired. "Is it simply dancing and music
and that sort of thing?"
"Just a variety entertainment," the proud possessor of the scarlet-hued ticket declared.
"Sir Timothy always has something up his sleeve. Last year, for instance, he had those
six African girls over from Paris in that queer dance which they wouldn't allow in
London at all. This time no one knows what is going to happen. The house, as you know,
is absolutely surrounded by that hideous stone wall, and from what I have heard,
reporters who try to get in aren't treated too kindly. Here's Ledsam. Very likely he knows
more about it."
"Ledsam," some one demanded, as Francis joined the group, "are you going to Sir
Timothy Brast's show to-morrow night?"
"I hope so," Francis replied, producing his strip of pasteboard.
"Ever been before?"