Fire-Tongue HTML version

13. Nicol Brinn Has A Visitor
It was close upon noon, but Nicol Brinn had not yet left his chambers. From that
large window which overlooked Piccadilly he surveyed the prospect with dull,
lack-lustre eyes. His morning attire was at least as tightly fitting as that which he
favoured in the evening, and now, hands clasped behind his back and an
unlighted cigar held firmly in the left corner of his mouth, he gazed across the
park with a dreamy and vacant regard. One very familiar with this strange and
taciturn man might have observed that his sallow features looked even more
gaunt than usual. But for any trace of emotion in that stoic face the most expert
physiognomist must have sought in vain.
Behind the motionless figure the Alaskan ermine and Manchurian leopards
stared glassily across the room. The flying lemur continued apparently to
contemplate the idea of swooping upon the head of the tigress where she
crouched upon her near-by pedestal. The death masks grinned; the Egyptian
priestess smiled. And Nicol Britain, expressionless, watched the traffic in
There came a knock at the door.
"In," said Nicol Brinn.
Hoskins, his manservant, entered: "Detective Inspector Wessex would like to see
you, sir."
Nicol Brinn did not turn around. "In," he repeated.
Silently Hoskins retired, and, following a short interval, ushered into the room a
typical detective officer, a Scotland Yard man of the best type. For Detective
Inspector Wessex no less an authority than Paul Harley had predicted a brilliant
future, and since he had attained to his present rank while still a comparatively
young man, the prophecy of the celebrated private investigator was likely to be
realized. Nicol Brinn turned and bowed in the direction of a large armchair.
"Pray sit down, Inspector," he said.