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- The Grand Babylon Hotel - 10/45 -

only on the dancers, but on the occupants of the balcony itself.

It may seem incredible to the uninitiated that the guests at any social gathering held in so gorgeous and renowned an apartment as the Gold Room of the Grand Babylon should need the observation of a watchful eye. Yet so it was. Strange matters and unexpected faces had been descried from the little window, and more than one European detective had kept vigil there with the most eminently satisfactory results.

At eleven o'clock Theodore Racksole, afflicted by vexation of spirit, found himself gazing idly through the little barred window. Nella was with him.

Together they had been wandering about the corridors of the hotel, still strange to them both, and it was quite by accident that they had lighted upon the small room which had a surreptitious view of Mr and Mrs Sampson Levi's ball. Except for the light of the chandelier of the ball-room the little cubicle was in darkness. Nella was looking through the window; her father stood behind.

'I wonder which is Mrs Sampson Levi?' Nella said, 'and whether she matches her name. Wouldn't you love to have a name like that, Father - something that people could take hold of - instead of Racksole?'

The sound of violins and a confused murmur of voices rose gently up to them.

'Umphl' said Theodore. 'Curse those evening papers!' he added, inconsequently but with sincerity.

'Father, you're very horrid to-night. What have the evening papers been doing?'

'Well, my young madame, they've got me in for one, and you for another; and they're manufacturing mysteries like fun. It's young Dimmock's death that has started 'em.'

'Well, Father, you surely didn't expect to keep yourself out of the papers.

Besides, as regards newspapers, you ought to be glad you aren't in New York.

Just fancy what the dear old Herald would have made out of a little transaction like yours of last night'

'That's true,' assented Racksole. 'But it'll be all over New York to-morrow morning, all the same. The worst of it is that Babylon has gone off to Switzerland.'


'Don't know. Sudden fancy, I guess, for his native heath.'

'What difference does it make to you?'

'None. Only I feel sort of lonesome. I feel I want someone to lean up against in running this hotel.'

'Father, if you have that feeling you must be getting ill.'

'Yes,' he sighed, 'I admit it's unusual with me. But perhaps you haven't grasped the fact, Nella, that we're in the middle of a rather queer business.'

'You mean about poor Mr Dimmock?'

'Partly Dimmock and partly other things. First of all, that Miss Spencer, or whatever her wretched name is, mysteriously disappears. Then there was the stone thrown into your bedroom. Then I caught that rascal Jules conspiring with Dimmock at three o'clock in the morning. Then your precious Prince Aribert arrives without any suite - which I believe is a most peculiar and wicked thing for a Prince to do - and moreover I find my daughter on very intimate terms with the said Prince. Then young Dimmock goes and dies, and there is to be an inquest; then Prince Eugen and his suite, who were expected here for dinner, fail to turn up at all - '

'Prince Eugen has not come?'

'He has not; and Uncle Aribert is in a deuce of a stew about him, and telegraphing all over Europe. Altogether, things are working up pretty lively.'

'Do you really think, Dad, there was anything between Jules and poor Mr Dimmock?'

'Think! I know! I tell you I saw that scamp give Dimmock a wink last night at dinner that might have meant - well!'

'So you caught that wink, did you, Dad?'

'Why, did you?'

'Of course, Dad. I was going to tell you about it.'

The millionaire grunted.

'Look here, Father,' Nella whispered suddenly, and pointed to the balcony immediately below them. 'Who's that?' She indicated a man with a bald patch on the back of his head, who was propping himself up against the railing of the balcony and gazing immovable into the ball-room.

'Well, who is it?'

'Isn't it Jules?'

'Gemini! By the beard of the prophet, it is!'

'Perhaps Mr Jules is a guest of Mrs Sampson Levi.'

'Guest or no guest, he goes out of this hotel, even if I have to throw him out myself.'

Theodore Racksole disappeared without another word, and Nella followed him.

But when the millionaire arrived on the balcony floor he could see nothing of Jules, neither there nor in the ball-room itself. Saying no word aloud, but quietly whispering wicked expletives, he searched everywhere in vain, and then, at last, by tortuous stairways and corridors returned to his original post of observation, that he might survey the place anew from the vantage ground. To his surprise he found a man in the dark little room, watching the scene of the ball as intently as he himself had been doing a few minutes before. Hearing footsteps, the man turned with a start.

It was Jules.

The two exchanged glances in the half light for a second.

'Good evening, Mr Racksole,' said Jules calmly. 'I must apologize for being here.'

'Force of habit, I suppose,' said Theodore Racksole drily.

'Just so, sir.'

'I fancied I had forbidden you to re-enter this hotel?'

'I thought your order applied only to my professional capacity. I am here to-night as the guest of Mr and Mrs Sampson Levi.'

'In your new rôle of man-about-town, eh?'


'But I don't allow men-about-town up here, my friend.'

'For being up here I have already apologized.'

'Then, having apologized, you had better depart; that is my disinterested advice to you.'

'Good night, sir.'

'And, I say, Mr Jules, if Mr and Mrs Sampson Levi, or any other Hebrews or Christians, should again invite you to my hotel you will oblige me by declining the invitation. You'll find that will be the safest course for you.'

'Good night, sir.'

Before midnight struck Theodore Racksole had ascertained that the invitation-list of Mr and Mrs Sampson Levi, though a somewhat lengthy one, contained no reference to any such person as Jules.

He sat up very late. To be precise, he sat up all night. He was a man who, by dint of training, could comfortably dispense with sleep when he felt so inclined, or when circumstances made such a course advisable. He walked to and fro in his room, and cogitated as few people beside Theodore Racksole could cogitate. At 6 a.m. he took a stroll round the business part of his premises, and watched the supplies come in from Covent Garden, from Smithfield, from Billingsgate, and from other strange places. He found the proceedings of the kitchen department quite interesting, and made mental notes of things that he would have altered, of men whose wages he would increase and men whose wages he would reduce. At 7 a.m. he happened to be standing near the luggage lift, and witnessed the descent of vast quantities of luggage, and its disappearance into a Carter Paterson van.

'Whose luggage is that?' he inquired peremptorily.

The luggage clerk, with an aggrieved expression, explained to him that it was the luggage of nobody in particular, that it belonged to various guests, and was bound for various destinations; that it was, in fact, 'expressed'

luggage despatched in advance, and that a similar quantity of it left the hotel every morning about that hour.

Theodore Racksole walked away, and breakfasted upon one cup of tea and half a slice of toast.

At ten o'clock he was informed that the inspector of police desired

The Grand Babylon Hotel - 10/45

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