The Illustrious Prince HTML version
10. Mr. Coulson Outmatched
Mr. James B. Coulson settled down to live what was, to all appearance, a very
inoffensive and ordinary life. He rose a little earlier than was customary for an
Englishman of business of his own standing, but he made up for this by a somewhat
prolonged visit to the barber, a breakfast which bespoke an unimpaired digestion, and a
cigar of more than ordinary length over his newspaper. At about eleven o'clock he went
down to the city, and returned sometimes to luncheon, sometimes at varying hours, never
later, however, than four or five o'clock. From that time until seven, he was generally to
be found in the American bar, meeting old friends or making new ones.
On the sixth day of his stay at the Savoy Hotel the waiter who looked after the bar
smoking room accosted him as he entered at his usual time, a little after half past four.
"There's a gentleman here, Mr. Coulson, been asking after you," he announced. "I told
him that you generally came in about this time. You'll find him sitting over there."
Mr. Coulson glanced in the direction indicated. It was Mr. Jacks who awaited him in the
cushioned easy chair. For a single moment, perhaps, his lips tightened and the light of
battle flashed in his face. Then he crossed the room apparently himself again,--an
undistinguished, perfectly natural figure.
"It's Mr. Jacks, isn't it?" he asked, holding out his hand. "I thought I recognized you."
The Inspector rose to his feet.
"I am sorry to trouble you again, Mr. Coulson," he said, "but if you could spare me just a
minute or two, I should be very much obliged."
Mr. Coulson laughed pleasantly.
"You can have all you want of me from now till midnight," he declared. "My business
doesn't take very long, and I can only see the people I want to see in the middle of the
day. After that, I don't mind telling you that I find time hangs a bit on my hands. Try one
of these," he added, producing a cigar case.
The Inspector thanked him and helped himself. Mr. Coulson summoned the waiter.
"Highball for me," he directed. "What's yours, Mr. Jacks?"
"Thank you very much," the Inspector said. "I will take a little Scotch whiskey and soda."
The two men sat down. The corner was a retired one, and there was no one within