The Grand Babylon Hotel
'I'VE a great deal to tell you, Prince,' Racksole began, as soon as they were out
of the room, 'and also, as I said, something to show you. Will you come to my
room? We will talk there first. The whole hotel is humming with excitement.'
'With pleasure,' said Aribert.
'Glad his Highness Prince Eugen is recovering,' Racksole said, urged by
considerations of politeness.
'Ah! As to that - ' Aribert began. 'If you don't mind, we'll discuss that later, Prince,'
Racksole interrupted him.
They were in the proprietor's private room.
'I want to tell you all about last night,' Racksole resumed, 'about my capture of
Jules, and my examination of him this morning.' And he launched into a full
acount of the whole thing, down to the least details. 'You see,'
he concluded, 'that our suspicions as to Bosnia were tolerably correct. But as
regards Bosnia, the more I think about it, the surer I feel that nothing can be done
to bring their criminal politicians to justice.'
'And as to Jules, what do you propose to do?'
'Come this way,' said Racksole, and led Aribert to another room. A sofa in this
room was covered with a linen cloth. Racksole lifted the cloth - he could never
deny himself a dramatic moment - and disclosed the body of a dead man.
It was Jules, dead, but without a scratch or mark on him.
'I have sent for the police - not a street constable, but an official from Scotland
Yard,' said Racksole.
'How did this happen?' Aribert asked, amazed and startled. 'I understood you to
say that he was safely immured in the bedroom.'
'So he was,' Racksole replied. 'I went up there this afternoon, chiefly to take him
some food. The commissionaire was on guard at the door. He had heard no
noise, nothing unusual. Yet when I entered the room Jules was gone.
He had by some means or other loosened his fastenings; he had then managed
to take the door off the wardrobe. He had moved the bed in front of the window,
and by pushing the wardrobe door three parts out of the window and lodging the
inside end of it under the rail at the head of the bed, he had provided himself with
a sort of insecure platform outside the window. All this he did without making the
least sound. He must then have got through the window, and stood on the little
platform. With his fingers he would just be able to reach the outer edge of the
wide cornice under the roof of the hotel. By main strength of arms he had swung
himself on to this cornice, and so got on to the roof proper. He would then have
the run of the whole roof.
At the side of the building facing Salisbury Lane there is an iron fire-escape,
which runs right down from the ridge of the roof into a little sunk yard level with
the cellars. Jules must have thought that his escape was accomplished. But it
unfortunately happened that one rung in the iron escape-ladder had rusted rotten
through being badly painted. It gave way, and Jules, not expecting anything of
the kind, fell to the ground. That was the end of all his cleverness and ingenuity.'