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The Grand Babylon Hotel

7. Nella And The Prince
IT appeared impossible to Theodore Racksole that so cumbrous an article as a
corpse could be removed out of his hotel, with no trace, no hint, no clue as to the
time or the manner of the performance of the deed. After the first feeling of
surprise, Racksole grew coldly and severely angry. He had a mind to dismiss the
entire staff of the hotel. He personally examined the night-watchman, the
chambermaids and all other persons who by chance might or ought to know
something of the affair; but without avail. The corpse of Reginald Dimmock had
vanished utterly - disappeared like a fleshless spirit.
Of course there were the police. But Theodore Racksole held the police in sorry
esteem. He acquainted them with the facts, answered their queries with a patient
weariness, and expected, nothing whatever from that quarter. He also had
several interviews with Prince Aribert of Posen, but though the Prince was
suavity itself and beyond doubt genuinely concerned about the fate of his dead
attendant, yet it seemed to Racksole that he was keeping something back, that
he hesitated to say all he knew. Racksole, with characteristic insight, decided
that the death of Reginald Dimmock was only a minor event, which had occurred,
as it were, on the fringe of some far more profound mystery. And, therefore, he
decided to wait, with his eyes very wide open, until something else happened
that would throw light on the business. At the moment he took only one measure
- he arranged that the theft of Dimmock's body should not appear in the
newspapers. It is astonishing how well a secret can be kept, when the
possessors of the secret are handled with the proper mixture of firmness and
persuasion. Racksole managed this very neatly. It was a complicated job, and his
success in it rather pleased him.
At the same time he was conscious of being temporarily worsted by an unknown
group of schemers, in which he felt convinced that Jules was an important item.
He could scarcely look Nella in the eyes. The girl had evidently expected him to
unmask this conspiracy at once, with a single stroke of the millionaire's magic
wand. She was thoroughly accustomed, in the land of her birth, to seeing him
achieve impossible feats. Over there he was a 'boss'; men trembled before his
name; when he wished a thing to happen - well, it happened; if he desired to
know a thing, he just knew it. But here, in London, Theodore Racksole was not
quite the same Theodore Racksole. He dominated New York; but London, for the
most part, seemed not to take much interest in him; and there were certainly
various persons in London who were capable of snapping their fingers at him - at
Theodore Racksole. Neither he nor his daughter could get used to that fact.
As for Nella, she concerned herself for a little with the ordinary business of the
bureau, and watched the incomings and outgoings of Prince Aribert with a kindly
interest. She perceived, what her father had failed to perceive, that His Highness
had assumed an attitude of reserve merely to hide the secret distraction and
dismay which consumed him. She saw that the poor fellow had no settled plan in
his head, and that he was troubled by something which, so far, he had confided
to nobody. It came to her knowledge that each morning he walked to and fro on