The Kingdom of the Blind
The room was a study in masculine luxury. The brown walls were hung with a choice
selection of sporting prints, varied here and there with silverpoint etchings of beautiful
women in various poses. There were a good many photographs, mostly signed, above the
mantelpiece; a cigar cabinet, a case of sporting-rifles and shot guns, some fishing tackle,
a case of books, distributed appropriately about the apartment. There were some warlike
trophies displayed without ostentation, a handsome writing-table on which stood a
telephone. On a thick green rug stretched in front of the fireplace, a fox terrier lay
blinking at the wood fire. The room was empty and silent except for the slow ticking of
an ancient clock which stood underneath an emblazoned coat of arms in the far corner.
The end of a log broke off and fell hissing into the hearth. The fox terrier rose reluctantly
to his feet, shook himself and stood looking at the smoking fragment in an aggrieved
manner. Satisfied that no personal harm was intended to him, however, he presently
curled himself up once more. Again the apartment seemed to become the embodiment of
repose. The clock, after a hoarse wheezing warning, struck seven. The dog opened one
eye and looked up at it. A few minutes later, the peace of the place was broken in a
different fashion. There was the sound of a key being hastily fitted into the lock of the
outside door. The dog rose to his feet expectantly. The door which led into the apartment
was thrown open and hastily slammed to. A man, breathing heavily, stood for a moment
upon the threshold, his head stooped a little as though listening. Then, without a glance,
even, at the dog who jumped to greet him, he crossed the room with swift, stealthy
footsteps. Before he could reach the other side, however, the door which faced him was
opened. A man-servant looked inquiringly out.
"My bath and clothes, Jarvis, like hell!"
The man gilded away, his master following close behind. From somewhere further inside
the flat, the sound of water running into a bath was heard. The door was closed, again
there was silence. The fox terrier, after a few moments' scratching at the door, resumed
his place upon the rug and curled himself up to renewed slumber.
The next interruption was of a different nature. The sharp, insistent summons of an
electric bell from outside rang through the room. In a moment or two the man-servant
appeared from the inner apartment, crossed the floor and presently reappeared, ushering
in a visitor.
"Captain Granet is changing for dinner at present, sir," he explained. "If you will take a
seat, however, he will be out presently. What name shall I say?"
The servant wheeled an easy-chair up towards the fire and placed by its side a small table
on which were some illustrated papers. Then, with a little bow, he disappeared through
the inner door. Major Thomson, who had been fingering the Sketch, laid it down the