The Kingdom of the Blind
The little party trooped out of the restaurant and made their way to a corner of the lounge,
where tables had already been prepared with coffee and liqueurs. Geraldine Conyers and
Captain Granet, who had lingered behind, found a table to themselves. Lady Anselman
laid her fingers upon Major Thomson's arm.
"Please talk for a few more minutes to Selarne," she begged. "Your French is such a relief
He obeyed immediately, although his eyes strayed more than once towards the table at
which Captain Granet and his companion were seated. Madame Selarne was in a gossipy
mood and they found many mutual acquaintances.
"To speak a foreign language as you do," she told him, "is wonderful. Is it in French
alone, monsieur, that you excel, or are you, perhaps, a great linguist?"
"I can scarcely call myself that," he replied, "but I do speak several other languages. In
my younger days I travelled a good deal."
"German, perhaps, too?" she inquired with a little grimace.
"I was at a hospital in Berlin," he confessed.
Lady Anselman's party was suddenly increased by the advent of some acquaintances
from an adjoining table, all of whom desired to be presented to Madame Selarne. Major
Thomson, set at liberty, made his way at once towards the small table at which Captain
Granet and Geraldine Conyers were seated. She welcomed him with a smile.
"Are you coming to have coffee with us?" she asked?
"If I may," he answered. "I shall have to be off in a few minutes."
A waiter paused before their table and offered a salver on which were several cups of
coffee and liqueur glasses. Captain Granet leaned forward in his place and stretched out
his hand to serve his companion. Before he could take the cup, however, the whole tray
had slipped from the waiter's fingers, caught the corner of the table, and fallen with its
contents on to the carpet. The waiter himself--a small, undersized person with black,
startled eyes set at that moment in a fixed and unnatural stare-made one desperate effort
to save himself and then fell backwards. Every one turned around, attracted by the noise
of the falling cups and the sharp, half-stifled groan which broke from the man's lips.
Captain Granet sprang to his feet.
"Good heavens! The fellow's in a fit!" he exclaimed.