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The Grand Babylon Hotel

27. The Confession Of Mr Tom Jackson
IT happened that the small bedroom occupied by Jules during the years he was
head-waiter at the Grand Babylon had remained empty since his sudden
dismissal by Theodore Racksole. No other head-waiter had been formally
appointed in his place; and, indeed, the absence of one man - even the unique
Jules - could scarcely have been noticed in the enormous staff of a place like the
Grand Babylon. The functions of a head-waiter are generally more ornamental,
spectacular, and morally impressive than useful, and it was so at the great hotel
on the Embankment. Racksole accordingly had the excellent idea of transporting
his prisoner, with as much secrecy as possible, to this empty bedroom. There
proved to be no difficulty in doing so; Jules showed himself perfectly amenable to
a show of superior force.
Racksole took upstairs with him an old commissionaire who had been attached
to the outdoor service of the hotel for many years - a grey-haired man, wiry as a
terrier and strong as a mastiff. Entering the bedroom with Jules, whose hands
were bound, he told the commissionaire to remain outside the door.
Jules' bedroom was quite an ordinary apartment, though perhaps slightly
superior to the usual accommodation provided for servants in the caravanserais
of the West End. It was about fourteen by twelve. It was furnished with a
bedstead, a small wardrobe, a -mall washstand and dressing-table, and two
chairs. There were two hooks behind the door, a strip of carpet by the bed, and
some cheap ornaments on the iron mantelpiece. There was also one electric
light. The window was a little square one, high up from the floor, and it looked on
the inner quadrangle.
The room was on the top storey - the eighth - and from it you had a view sheer to
the ground. Twenty feet below ran a narrow cornice about a foot wide; three feet
or so above the window another and wider cornice jutted out, and above that was
the high steep roof of the hotel, though you could not see it from the window. As
Racksole examined the window and the outlook, he said to himself that Jules
could not escape by that exit, at any rate. He gave a glance up the chimney, and
saw that the flue was far too small to admit a man's body.
Then he called in the commissionaire, and together they bound Jules firmly to the
bedstead, allowing him, however, to lie down. All the while the captive never
opened his mouth - merely smiled a smile of disdain. Finally Racksole removed
the ornaments, the carpet, the chairs and the hooks, and wrenched away the
switch of the electric light. Then he and the commissionaire left the room, and
Racksole locked the door on the outside and put the key in his pocket.
'You will keep watch here,' he said to the commissionaire, 'through the night. You
can sit on this chair. Don't go to sleep. If you hear the slightest noise in the room
blow your cab-whistle; I will arrange to answer the signal. If there is no noise do
nothing whatever. I don't want this talked about, you understand. I shall trust you;
you can trust me.'