The Grand Babylon Hotel
1. The Millionaire And The Waiter
Jules, the celebrated head waiter of the Grand Babylon, was bending formally
towards the alert, middle-aged man who had just entered the smoking-room and
dropped into a basket-chair in the corner by the conservatory. It was 7.45 on a
particularly sultry June night, and dinner was about to be served at the Grand
Babylon. Men of all sizes, ages, and nationalities, but every one alike arrayed in
faultless evening dress, were dotted about the large, dim apartment. A faint
odour of flowers came from the conservatory, and the tinkle of a fountain. The
waiters, commanded by Jules, moved softly across the thick Oriental rugs,
balancing their trays with the dexterity of jugglers, and receiving and executing
orders with that air of profound importance of which only really first-class waiters
have the secret. The atmosphere was an atmosphere of serenity and repose,
characteristic of the Grand Babylon. It seemed impossible that anything could
occur to mar the peaceful, aristocratic monotony of existence in that perfectly-
managed establishment. Yet on that night was to happen the mightiest upheaval
that the Grand Babylon had ever known.
'Yes, sir?' repeated Jules, and this time there was a shade of august disapproval
in his voice: it was not usual for him to have to address a customer twice.
'Oh!' said the alert, middle-aged man, looking up at length. Beautifully ignorant of
the identity of the great Jules, he allowed his grey eyes to twinkle as he caught
sight of the expression on the waiter's face. 'Bring me an Angel Kiss.'
'Bring me an Angel Kiss, and be good enough to lose no time.'
'If it's an American drink, I fear we don't keep it, sir.' The voice of Jules fell icily
distinct, and several men glanced round uneasily, as if to deprecate the slightest
disturbance of their calm. The appearance of the person to whom Jules was
speaking, however, reassured them somewhat, for he had all the look of that
expert, the travelled Englishman, who can differentiate between one hotel and
another by instinct, and who knows at once where he may make a fuss with
propriety, and where it is advisable to behave exactly as at the club. The Grand
Babylon was a hotel in whose smoking-room one behaved as though one was at
'I didn't suppose you did keep it, but you can mix it, I guess, even in this hotel.'
'This isn't an American hotel, sir.' The calculated insolence of the words was
cleverly masked beneath an accent of humble submission.
The alert, middle-aged man sat up straight, and gazed placidly at Jules, who was
pulling his famous red side-whiskers.
'Get a liqueur glass,' he said, half curtly and half with good-humoured tolerance,
'pour into it equal quantities of maraschino, cream, and crême de menthe. Don't
stir it; don't shake it. Bring it to me. And, I say, tell the bar-tender - '
'Tell the bar-tender to make a note of the recipe, as I shall probably want an
Angel Kiss every evening before dinner so long as this weather lasts.'