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17. What Happened To Harley
Some two hours after Paul Harley's examination of Jones, the ex-parlourmaid, a
shabby street hawker appeared in the Strand, bearing a tray containing copies of
"Old Moore's Almanac." He was an ugly-looking fellow with a split lip, and
appeared to have neglected to shave for at least a week. Nobody appeared to be
particularly interested, and during his slow progression from Wellington Street to
the Savoy Hotel he smoked cigarettes almost continuously. Trade was far from
brisk, and the vendor of prophecies filled in his spare time by opening car doors,
for which menial service he collected one three-penny bit and several sixpences.
This commercial optimist was still haunting the courtyard of the hotel at a time
when a very handsome limousine pulled up beside the curb and a sprucely
attired Hindu stepped out. One who had been in the apartments of Ormuz Khan
must have recognized his excellency's private secretary. Turning to the
chauffeur, a half-caste of some kind, and ignoring the presence of the prophet
who had generously opened the door, "You will return at eight o'clock," he said,
speaking perfect and cultured English, "to take his excellency to High Claybury.
Make a note, now, as I shall be very busy, reminding me to call at Lower
Claybury station for a parcel which will be awaiting me there."
"Yes, sir," replied the chauffeur, and he touched his cap as the Hindu walked into
the hotel.
The salesman reclosed the door of the car, and spat reflectively upon the
Limping wearily, he worked his way along in the direction of Chancery Lane. But,
before reaching Chancery Lane, he plunged into a maze of courts with which he
was evidently well acquainted. His bookselling enterprise presently terminated,
as it had commenced, at The Chancery Agency.
Once more safe in his dressing room, the pedler rapidly transformed himself into
Paul Harley, and Paul Harley, laying his watch upon the table before him, lighted
his pipe and indulged in half an hour's close thinking.