The Vanished Messenger HTML version

Chapter 17
Mr. Fentolin, having succeeded in getting rid of his niece and his somewhat embarrassing
guest for at least two hours, was seated in his study, planning out a somewhat strenuous
morning, when his privacy was invaded by Doctor Sarson.
"Our guest," the latter announced, in his usual cold and measured tones, "has sent me to
request that you will favour him with an interview."
Mr. Fentolin laid his pen deliberately down.
"So soon," he murmured. "Very well, Sarson, I am at his service. Say that I will come at
Mr. Fentolin lost no time in paying this suggested visit. Mr. John P. Dunster, shaved and
clothed, was seated in an easy-chair drawn up to the window of his room, smoking what
he was forced to confess was a very excellent cigar. He turned his head as the door
opened, and Mr. Fentolin waved his hand pleasantly.
"Really," he declared, "this is most agreeable. I had an idea, Mr. Dunster, that I should
find you a reasonable person. Men of your eminence in their profession usually are."
Mr. Dunster looked at the speaker curiously.
"And what might my profession be, Mr. Fentolin?" he asked. "You seem to know a great
deal about me."
"It is true," Mr. Fentolin admitted. "I do know a great deal."
Mr. Dunster knocked the ash from his cigar.
"Well," he said, "I have been the hearer of several important communications from my
side of the Atlantic to England and to the Continent, and I have always known that there
was a certain amount of risk in the business. Once I had an exceedingly narrow shave,"
he continued reminiscently, "but this is the first time I have ever been dead up against it,
and I don't mind confessing that you've fairly got me puzzled. Who the mischief are you,
Mr. Fentolin, and what are you interfering about?"
Mr. Fentolinn smiled queerly.
"I am what you see," he replied. "I am one of those unfortunate human beings who, by
reason of their physical misfortunes, are cut off from the world of actual life. I have been
compelled to seek distraction in strange quarters. I have wealth - great wealth I suppose I
should say; an inordinate curiosity, a talent for intrigue. As to the direction in which I
carry on my intrigues, or even as to the direct interests which I study, that is a matter, Mr.
Dunster, upon which I shall not gratify your curiosity nor anybody else's. But, you see, I
am admitting freely that it does interest me to interfere in great affairs."
"But how on earth did you get to know about me," Mr. Dunster asked, "and my errand?
You couldn't possibly have got me here in an ordinary way. It was an entire fluke."
"There, you speak with some show of reason. I have a nephew whom you have met, who
is devoted to me."