Greenmantle HTML version

15. An Embarrassed Toilet
I was soaked to the bone, and while Peter set off to look for dinner I went to my room to
change. I had a rubdown and then got into pyjamas for some dumb-bell exercises with
two chairs, for that long wet ride had stiffened my arm and shoulder muscles. They were
a vulgar suit of primitive blue, which Blenkiron had looted from my London wardrobe. As
Cornelis Brandt I had sported a flannel nightgown.
My bedroom opened off the sitting-room, and while I was busy with my gymnastics I
heard the door open. I thought at first it was Blenkiron, but the briskness of the tread
was unlike his measured gait. I had left the light burning there, and the visitor, whoever
he was, had made himself at home. I slipped on a green dressing-gown Blenkiron had
lent me, and sallied forth to investigate.
My friend Rasta was standing by the table, on which he had laid an envelope. He
looked round at my entrance and saluted.
'I come from the Minister of War, sir,' he said, 'and bring you your passports for
tomorrow. You will travel by ...' And then his voice tailed away and his black eyes
narrowed to slits. He had seen something which switched him off the metals.
At that moment I saw it too. There was a mirror on the wall behind him, and as I faced
him I could not help seeing my reflection. It was the exact image of the engineer on the
Danube boat - blue jeans, loden cloak, and all. The accursed mischance of my costume
had given him the clue to an identity which was otherwise buried deep in the Bosporus.
I am bound to say for Rasta that he was a man of quick action. In a trice he had
whipped round to the other side of the table between me and the door, where he stood
regarding me wickedly.
By this time I was at the table and stretched out a hand for the envelope. My one hope
was nonchalance.
'Sit down, sir,' I said, 'and have a drink. It's a filthy night to move about in.'
'Thank you, no, Herr Brandt,' he said. 'You may burn these passports for they will not be
'Whatever's the matter with you?' I cried. 'You've mistaken the house, my lad. I'm called
Hanau - Richard Hanau - and my partner's Mr John S. Blenkiron. He'll be here
presently. Never knew anyone of the name of Brandt, barring a tobacconist in Denver
'You have never been to Rustchuk?' he said with a sneer.