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Chapter XL - My Mission

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« on: December 07, 2022, 05:12:09 am »

For the first time in my life I was in London—and alone. There had been no reply from Mr. Marx to the telegrams commanding his instant return, and so on the third morning after my arrival at Ravenor Castle I quitted it again to go in search of him. Accustomed though he was to conceal his feelings, and admirably though he succeeded in doing so in the presence of his guests, I could see that Mr. Ravenor was deeply anxious to have the suspicions which my story had awakened either dispelled or confirmed. Nor, indeed, although their purport was scarcely so clear to me, was I less so.

I suppose that no one, especially if he had never before been in a great city, could pass across London for the first time without some emotion of wonder. To me it was like entering an unknown world. The vast throng of people, the ceaseless din of traffic, and the huge buildings, all filled me with amazement which, as we drove through the Strand to Northumberland Avenue, grew into bewilderment. Only the recollection of my mission and its grave import recalled me to myself as the cab drew up before the Hotel Metropole.

My bag was taken possession of at once by one of the hall-porters and I engaged a room. Then I made inquiries about Mr. Marx.

The clerk turned over two or three pages of the ledger and shook his head. There was no one of that name stopping in the hotel, he informed me.

“Can you tell me whether anyone of that name has been staying here during the last week?” I asked.

He made a further search and shook his head.

“We have not had the name of Marx upon our books at all, sir, during my recollection,” he declared. “Quite an uncommon name, too; I should certainly have remembered it.”

“There have been letters addressed to him here by that name,” I said; “can you tell me what has become of them?”

He shook his head. “That would not be in my department, sir; you will ascertain by inquiring at the head-porter’s bureau round the corner.”

I thanked him and made my way thither across the reception hall. The answer to my question was given at once.

“There are letters for a Mr. Marx nearly every morning, sir, and telegrams,” said the official; “but I don’t think that Mr. Marx himself is stopping at the hotel; another gentleman always applies for them and sends them on.”

“And is the other gentleman staying here?” I asked.

“Yes, sir; No. 110.”

“Has he any authority to receive them from Mr. Marx?” I inquired.

“I believe so. He showed us a note from Mr. Marx, asking him to receive and forward them, and he has to sign, too, for every one he receives. It is a rule with us that anyone receiving letters not addressed to himself should do so, whether he has authority or not.”

“Can you tell me his name?” I asked. “I am sorry to give you so much trouble, but I particularly wish to ascertain Mr. Marx’s whereabouts, and this gentleman knows it.”

“Certainly, sir. John, what is No. 110’s name?” he asked an assistant.

“Count de Cartienne,” was the prompt reply.

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