The Grand Babylon Hotel
2. How Mr Racksole Obtained His Dinner
NEVERTHELESS, there are men with a confirmed habit of getting their own way,
even as guests in an exclusive hotel: and Theodore Racksole had long since
fallen into that useful practice - except when his only daughter Helen, motherless
but high-spirited girl, chose to think that his way crossed hers, in which case
Theodore capitulated and fell back. But when Theodore and his daughter
happened to be going one and the same road, which was pretty often, then
Heaven alone might help any obstacle that was so ill-advised as to stand in their
path. Jules, great and observant man though he was, had not noticed the terrible
projecting chins of both father and daughter, otherwise it is possible he would
have reconsidered the question of the steak and Bass.
Theodore Racksole went direct to the entrance-hall of the hotel, and entered
Miss Spencer's sanctum.
'I want to see Mr Babylon,' he said, 'without the delay of an instant.'
Miss Spencer leisurely raised her flaxen head.
'I am afraid - ,' she began the usual formula. It was part of her daily duty to
discourage guests who desired to see Mr Babylon.
'No, no,' said Racksole quickly, 'I don't want any "I'm afraids." This is business. If
you had been the ordinary hotel clerk I should have slipped you a couple of
sovereigns into your hand, and the thing would have been done.
As you are not - as you are obviously above bribes - I merely say to you, I must
see Mr Babylon at once on an affair of the utmost urgency. My name is Racksole
- Theodore Racksole.'
'Of New York?' questioned a voice at the door, with a slight foreign accent.
The millionaire turned sharply, and saw a rather short, French-looking man, with
a bald head, a grey beard, a long and perfectly-built frock coat, eye-glasses
attached to a minute silver chain, and blue eyes that seemed to have the
transparent innocence of a maid's.
'There is only one,' said Theodore Racksole succinctly.
'You wish to see me?' the new-comer suggested.
'You are Mr Felix Babylon?'
The man bowed.
'At this moment I wish to see you more than anyone else in the world,' said
Racksole. 'I am consumed and burnt up with a desire to see you, Mr Babylon.
I only want a few minutes' quiet chat. I fancy I can settle my business in that
With a gesture Mr Babylon invited the millionaire down a side corridor, at the end
of which was Mr Babylon's private room, a miracle of Louis XV furniture and
tapestry: like most unmarried men with large incomes, Mr Babylon had 'tastes' of
a highly expensive sort.
The landlord and his guest sat down opposite each other. Theodore Racksole
had met with the usual millionaire's luck in this adventure, for Mr Babylon made a
practice of not allowing himself to be interviewed by his guests, however
distinguished, however wealthy, however pertinacious. If he had not chanced to