The Grand Babylon Hotel
18. In The Night-Time
'HE must on no account be moved,' said the dark little Belgian doctor, whose
eyes seemed to peer so quizzically through his spectacles; and he said it with
That pronouncement rather settled their plans for them. It was certainly a
professional triumph for Nella, who, previous to the doctor's arrival, had told them
the very same thing. Considerable argument had passed before the doctor was
sent for. Prince Aribert was for keeping the whole affair a deep secret among
their three selves. Theodore Racksole agreed so far, but he suggested further
that at no matter what risk they should transport the patient over to England at
once. Racksole had an idea that he should feel safer in that hotel of his, and
better able to deal with any situation that might arise. Nella scorned the idea. In
her quality of an amateur nurse, she assured them that Prince Eugen was much
more seriously ill than either of them suspected, and she urged that they should
take absolute possession of the house, and keep possession till Prince Eugen
'But what about the Spencer female?' Racksole had said.
'Keep her where she is. Keep her a prisoner. And hold the house against all
comers. If Jules should come back, simply defy him to enter - that is all.
There are two of you, so you must keep an eye on the former occupiers, if they
return, and on Miss Spencer, while I nurse the patient. But first, you must send
for a doctor.'
'Doctor!' Prince Aribert had said, alarmed. 'Will it not be necessary to make some
awkward explanation to the doctor?'
'Not at all!' she replied. 'Why should it be? In a place like Ostend doctors are far
too discreet to ask questions; they see too much to retain their curiosity. Besides,
do you want your nephew to die?'
Both the men were somewhat taken aback by the girl's sagacious grasp of the
situation, and it came about that they began to obey her like subordinates.
She told her father to sally forth in search of a doctor, and he went. She gave
Prince Aribert certain other orders, and he promptly executed them.
By the evening of the following day, everything was going smoothly. The doctor
came and departed several times, and sent medicine, and seemed fairly
optimistic as to the issue of the illness. An old woman had been induced to come
in and cook and clean. Miss Spencer was kept out of sight on the attic floor,
pending some decision as to what to do with her. And no one outside the house
had asked any questions. The inhabitants of that particular street must have
been accustomed to strange behaviour on the part of their neighbours,
unaccountable appearances and disappearances, strange flittings and arrivals.
This strong-minded and active trio - Racksole, Nella, and Prince Aribert - might
have been the lawful and accustomed tenants of the house, for any outward
evidence to the contrary.
On the afternoon of the third day Prince Eugen was distinctly and seriously
worse. Nella had sat up with him the previous night and throughout the day.