The Great Impersonation HTML version

Chapter 4
Mr. Mangan, on their way into the grill room, loitered for a few minutes in the small
reception room, chatting with some acquaintances, whilst his host, having spoken to the
/maitre d'hotel/ and ordered a cocktail from a passing waiter, stood with his hands behind
his back, watching the inflow of men and women with all that interest which one might
be supposed to feel in one's fellows after a prolonged absence. He had moved a little to
one side to allow a party of young people to make their way through the crowded
chamber, when he was conscious of a woman standing alone on the topmost of the three
thickly carpeted stairs. Their eyes met, and hers, which had been wandering around the
room as though in search of some acquaintance, seemed instantly and fervently held. To
the few loungers about the room, ignorant of any special significance in that studied
contemplation of the man on the part of the woman, their two personalities presented an
agreeable, almost a fascinating study. Dominey was six feet two in height and had to its
fullest extent the natural distinction of his class, together with the half military, half
athletic bearing which seemed to have been so marvellously restored to him. His
complexion was no more than becomingly tanned; his slight moustache, trimmed very
close to the upper lip, was of the same ruddy brown shade as his sleekly brushed hair.
The woman, who had commenced now to move slowly towards him, save that her
cheeks, at that moment, at any rate, were almost unnaturally pale, was of the same
colouring. Her red-gold hair gleamed beneath her black hat. She was tall, a Grecian type
of figure, large without being coarse, majestic though still young. She carried a little dog
under one arm and a plain black silk bag, on which was a coronet in platinum and
diamonds, in the other hand. The major-domo who presided over the room, watching her
approach, bowed with more than his usual urbanity. Her eyes, however, were still fixed
upon the person who had engaged so large a share of her attention. She came towards
him, her lips a little parted.
"Leopold!" she faltered. "The Holy Saints, why did you not let me know!"
Dominey bowed very slightly. His words seemed to have a cut and dried flavour.
"I am so sorry," he replied, "but I fear that you make a mistake. My name is not
She stood quite still, looking at him with the air of not having heard a word of his polite
"In London, of all places," she murmured. "Tell me, what does it mean?"
"I can only repeat, madam," he said, "that to my very great regret I have not the honour of
your acquaintance."
She was puzzled, but absolutely unconvinced.