The Evil Shepherd HTML version
The two men occupied a table set against the wall, not far from the entrance to the
restaurant, and throughout the progress of the earlier part of their meal were able to watch
the constant incoming stream of their fellow-guests. They were, in their way, an
interesting contrast physically, neither of them good-looking according to ordinary
standards, but both with many pleasant characteristics. Andrew Wilmore, slight and dark,
with sallow cheeks and brown eyes, looked very much what he was--a moderately
successful journalist and writer of stories, a keen golfer, a bachelor who preferred a pipe
to cigars, and lived at Richmond because he could not find a flat in London which he
could afford, large enough for his somewhat expansive habits. Francis Ledsam was of a
sturdier type, with features perhaps better known to the world owing to the constant
activities of the cartoonist. His reputation during the last few years had carried him,
notwithstanding his comparative youth--he was only thirty-five years of age--into the
very front ranks of his profession, and his income was one of which men spoke with
bated breath. He came of a family of landed proprietors, whose younger sons for
generations had drifted always either to the Bar or the Law, and his name was well
known in the purlieus of Lincoln's Inn before he himself had made it famous. He was a
persistent refuser of invitations, and his acquaintances in the fashionable world were
comparatively few. Yet every now and then he felt a mild interest in the people whom his
companion assiduously pointed out to him.
"A fashionable restaurant, Francis, is rather like your Law Courts--it levels people up,"
the latter remarked. "Louis, the head-waiter, is the judge, and the position allotted in the
room is the sentence. I wonder who is going to have the little table next but one to us.
Some favoured person, evidently."
Francis glanced in the direction indicated without curiosity. The table in question was
laid for two and was distinguished by a wonderful cluster of red roses.
"Why is it," the novelist continued speculatively, "that, whenever we take another man's
wife out, we think it necessary to order red roses?"
"And why is it," Francis queried, a little grimly, "that a dear fellow like you, Andrew,
believes it his duty to talk of trifles for his pal's sake, when all the time he is thinking of
something else? I know you're dying to talk about the Hilditch case, aren't you? Well, go
"I'm only interested in this last development," Wilmore confessed. "Of course, I read the
newspaper reports. To tell you the truth, for a murder trial it seemed to me to rather lack
"It was a very simple and straightforward case," Francis said slowly. "Oliver Hilditch is
the principal partner in an American financial company which has recently opened
offices in the West End. He seems to have arrived in England about two years ago, to