The Man Who Knew Too Much HTML version

1. The Face In The Target
Harold March, the rising reviewer and social critic, was walking vigorously across a great
tableland of moors and commons, the horizon of which was fringed with the far-off
woods of the famous estate of Torwood Park. He was a good-looking young man in
tweeds, with very pale curly hair and pale clear eyes. Walking in wind and sun in the
very landscape of liberty, he was still young enough to remember his politics and not
merely try to forget them. For his errand at Torwood Park was a political one; it was the
place of appointment named by no less a person than the Chancellor of the Exchequer,
Sir Howard Horne, then introducing his so-called Socialist budget, and prepared to
expound it in an interview with so promising a penman. Harold March was the sort of
man who knows everything about politics, and nothing about politicians. He also knew a
great deal about art, letters, philosophy, and general culture; about almost everything,
indeed, except the world he was living in.
Abruptly, in the middle of those sunny and windy flats, he came upon a sort of cleft
almost narrow enough to be called a crack in the land. It was just large enough to be the
water-course for a small stream which vanished at intervals under green tunnels of
undergrowth, as if in a dwarfish forest. Indeed, he had an odd feeling as if he were a giant
looking over the valley of the pygmies. When he dropped into the hollow, however, the
impression was lost; the rocky banks, though hardly above the height of a cottage, hung
over and had the profile of a precipice. As he began to wander down the course of the
stream, in idle but romantic curiosity, and saw the water shining in short strips between
the great gray boulders and bushes as soft as great green mosses, he fell into quite an
opposite vein of fantasy. It was rather as if the earth had opened and swallowed him into
a sort of underworld of dreams. And when he became conscious of a human figure dark
against the silver stream, sitting on a large boulder and looking rather like a large bird, it
was perhaps with some of the premonition's proper to a man who meets the strangest
friendship of his life.
The man was apparently fishing; or at least was fixed in a fisherman's attitude with more
than a fisherman's immobility. March was able to examine the man almost as if he had
been a statue for some minutes before the statue spoke. He was a tall, fair man,
cadaverous, and a little lackadaisical, with heavy eyelids and a highbridged nose. When
his face was shaded with his wide white hat, his light mustache and lithe figure gave him
a look of youth. But the Panama lay on the moss beside him; and the spectator could see
that his brow was prematurely bald; and this, combined with a certain hollowness about
the eyes, had an air of headwork and even headache. But the most curious thing about
him, realized after a short scrutiny, was that, though he looked like a fisherman, he was
not fishing.
He was holding, instead of a rod, something that might have been a landing-net which
some fishermen use, but which was much more like the ordinary toy net which children
carry, and which they generally use indifferently for shrimps or butterflies. He was