Fire-Tongue HTML version

4. Introducing Mr. Nicol Brinn
At about nine o'clock on the same evening, a man stood at a large window which
over looked Piccadilly and the Green Park The room to which the window
belonged was justly considered one of the notable sights of London and
doubtless would have received suitable mention in the "Blue Guide" had the
room been accessible to the general public. It was, on the contrary, accessible
only to the personal friends of Mr. Nicol Brinn. As Mr. Nicol Brinn had a rarely
critical taste in friendship, none but a fortunate few had seen the long room with
its two large windows overlooking Piccadilly.
The man at the window was interested in a car which, approaching from the
direction of the Circus, had slowed down immediately opposite and now was
being turned, the chauffeur's apparent intention being to pull up at the door
below. He had seen the face of the occupant and had recognized it even from
that elevation. He was interested; and since only unusual things aroused any
semblance of interest in the man who now stood at the window, one might have
surmised that there was something unusual about the present visitor, or in his
having decided to call at those chambers; and that such was indeed his purpose
an upward glance which he cast in the direction of the balcony sufficiently
The watcher, who had been standing in a dark recess formed by the presence of
heavy velvet curtains draped before the window, now opened the curtains and
stepped into the lighted room. He was a tall, lean man having straight, jet-black
hair, a sallow complexion, and the features of a Sioux. A long black cigar
protruded aggressively from the left corner of his mouth. His hands were locked
behind him and his large and quite expressionless blue eyes stared straight
across the room at the closed door with a dreamy and vacant regard. His dinner
jacket fitted him so tightly that it might have been expected at any moment to split
at the seams. As if to precipitate the catastrophe, he wore it buttoned.
There came a rap at the door.
"In!" said the tall man.