The Old Man in the Corner
XIII. A Cunning Rascal
"Yes, left severely alone," continued the man in the corner with a sarcastic chuckle. "So
severely alone, in fact, that one quarter of an hour after another passed by and still the
magnificent police officer in the gorgeous uniform did not return. Then, when it was too
late, Schwarz cursed himself once again for the double-dyed idiot that he was. He had
been only too ready to believe that Prince Semionicz was a liar and a rogue, and under
these unjust suspicions he had fallen an all too easy prey to one of the most cunning
rascals he had ever come across.
"An inquiry from the hall porter at the North-Western elicited the fact that no such
personage as Mr. Schwarz described had entered the hotel. The young man asked to see
Prince Semionicz, hoping against hope that all was not yet lost. The Prince received him
most courteously; he was dictating some letters to his secretary, while the valet was in the
next room preparing his master's evening clothes. Mr. Schwarz found it very difficult to
explain what he actually did want.
"There stood the dressing-case in which the Prince had locked up the jewels, and there
the bag from which the secretary had taken the bank-notes. After much hesitation on
Schwarz's part and much impatience on that of the Prince, the young man blurted out the
whole story of the so-called Russian police officer whose card he still held in his hand.
"The Prince, it appears, took the whole thing wonderfully good-naturedly; no doubt he
thought the jeweller a hopeless fool. He showed him the jewels, the receipt he held, and
also a large bundle of bank-notes similar to those Schwarz had with such culpable folly
given up to the clever rascal in the cab.
"'I pay all my bills with Bank of England notes, Mr. Schwarz. It would have been wiser,
perhaps, if you had spoken to the manager of the hotel about me before you were so
ready to believe any cock-and-bull story about my supposed rogueries.'
"Finally he placed a small 16mo volume before the young jeweller, and said with a
"'If people in this country who are in a large way of business, and are therefore likely to
come in contact with people of foreign nationality, were to study these little volumes
before doing business with any foreigner who claims a title, much disappointment and a
great loss would often be saved. Now in this case had you looked up page 797 of this
little volume of Gotha's Almanach you would have seen my name in it and known from
the first that the so-called Russian detective was a liar.'
"There was nothing more to be said, and Mr. Schwarz left the hotel. No doubt, now that
he had been hopelessly duped he dared not go home, and half hoped by communicating