The Grand Babylon Hotel

9. Two Women And The Revolver
'YOU - you're only doing that to frighten me,' stammered Miss Spencer, in a low,
quavering voice.
'Am I?' Nella replied, as firmly as she could, though her hand shook violently with
excitement, could Miss Spencer but have observed it. 'Am I? You said just now
that I might be a Yankee girl, but I was a fool. Well, I am a Yankee girl, as you
call it; and in my country, if they don't teach revolver-shooting in boarding-
schools, there are at least a lot of girls who can handle a revolver. I happen to be
one of them. I tell you that if you ring that bell you will suffer.'
Most of this was simple bluff on Nella's part, and she trembled lest Miss Spencer
should perceive that it was simple bluff. Happily for her, Miss Spencer belonged
to that order of women who have every sort of courage except physical courage.
Miss Spencer could have withstood successfully any moral trial, but persuade
her that her skin was in danger, and she would succumb. Nella at once divined
this useful fact, and proceeded accordingly, hiding the strangeness of her own
sensations as well as she could.
'You had better sit down now,' said Nella, 'and I will ask you a few questions.'
And Miss Spencer obediently sat down, rather white, and trying to screw her lips
into a formal smile.
'Why did you leave the Grand Babylon that night?' Nella began her examination,
putting on a stern, barrister-like expression.
'I had orders to, Miss Racksole.'
'Whose orders?'
'Well, I'm - I'm - the fact is, I'm a married woman, and it was my husband's
'Who is your husband? 'Tom Jackson - Jules, you know, head waiter at the
Grand Babylon.'
'So Jules's real name is Tom Jackson? Why did he want you to leave without
giving notice?'
'I'm sure I don't know, Miss Racksole. I swear I don't know. He's my husband,
and, of course, I do what he tells me, as you will some day do what your husband
tells you. Please heaven you'll get a better husband than mine!'
Miss Spencer showed a sign of tears.
Nella fingered the revolver, and put it at full cock. 'Well,' she repeated, 'why did
he want you to leave?' She was tremendously surprised at her own coolness,
and somewhat pleased with it, too.
'I can't tell you, I can't tell you.'
'You've just got to,' Nella said, in a terrible, remorseless tone.
'He - he wished me to come over here to Ostend. Something had gone wrong.
Oh! he's a fearful man, is Tom. If I told you, he'd - '
'Had something gone wrong in the hotel, or over here?'
'Was it about Prince Eugen of Posen?'