The Vanished Messenger HTML version
Mr. Fentolin led the way to a delightful little corner of his library, where before the open
grate, recently piled with hissing logs, an easy chair had been drawn. He wheeled himself
up to the other side of the hearthrug and leaned back with a little air of exhaustion. The
butler, who seemed to have appeared unsummoned from somewhere among the shadows,
served coffee and poured some old brandy into large and wonderfully thin glasses.
"Why my house should be turned into an asylum to gratify the hospitable instincts of my
young nephew, I cannot imagine," Mr. Fentolin grumbled. "A most extraordinary person,
our visitor, I can assure you. Quite violent, too, he was at first."
"Have you had any outside advice about his condition?" Hamel inquired.
Mr. Fentolin glanced across those few feet of space and looked at Hamel with swift
"Why should I?" he asked. "Doctor Sarson is fully qualified, and the case seems to
present no unusual characteristics."
Hamel sipped his brandy thoughtfully.
"I don't know why I suggested it," he admitted. "I only thought that an outside doctor
might help you to get rid of the fellow."
Mr. Fentolin shrugged his shoulders.
"After all," he said, "the matter is of no real consequence. Doctor Sarson assures me that
we shall be able to send him on his way very shortly. In the meantime, Mr. Hamel, what
about the Tower?"
"What about it?" Hamel asked, selecting a cigar from the box which had been pushed to
his side. "I am sure I haven't any wish to inconvenience you."
"I will be quite frank," Mr. Fentolin declared. "I do not dispute your right for a moment.
On the other hand, my few hours daily down there have become a habit with me. I do not
wish to give them up. Stay here with us, Mr. Hamel. You will be doing us a great
kindness. My nephew and niece have too little congenial society. Make up your mind to
give us a fortnight of your time, and I can assure you that we will do our best to make
yours a pleasant stay."
Hamel was a little taken aback.
"Mr. Fentolin," he said, "I couldn't think of accepting your hospitality to such an extent.
My idea in coming here was simply to fulfil an old promise to my father and to rough it
at the Tower for a week or so, and when that was over, I don't suppose I should ever be
likely to come back again. You had better let me carry out that plan, and afterwards the
place shall be entirely at your disposal."
"You don't quite understand," Mr. Fentolin persisted, a little irritably. "I sit there every
morning. I want, for instance, to be there to-morrow morning, and the next morning, and
the morning afterwards, to finish a little seascape I have commenced. Nowhere else will
do. Call it a whim or what you will I have begun the picture, and I want to finish it."