“The porter closes the door at seven o’clock punctually, sir. It is now nearly twenty minutes after the hour.”

Mr. Ferguson’s brain was still in the numbed stage.

“Closes the door?” he said.

“Yes, sir.”

“Then how are we to get out?”

“I fear we cannot get out, sir.”

Mr. Ferguson digested this.

“I am no longer in your employment, sir,” said Master Bean, respectfully, “but I hope that in the circumstances you will permit me to remain here during the night.”

“During the night!”

“It would enable me to sleep more comfortably than on the stairs.”

“But we can’t stop here all night,” said Mr. Ferguson, feebly.

He had anticipated an unpleasant five minutes in Master Bean’s company. Imagination boggled at the thought of an unpleasant thirteen hours.

He collapsed into a chair.

“I called,” said Master Bean, shelving the trivial subject of the prospective vigil, “in the hope that I might persuade you, sir, to reconsider your decision in regard to my dismissal. I can assure you, sir, that I am extremely anxious to give satisfaction. If you would take me back and inform me how I have fallen short, I would endeavour to improve. I—

“We can’t stop here all night,” interrupted Mr. Ferguson, bounding from his chair and beginning to pace the floor.

“Without presumption, sir, I feel that if you were to give me another chance I should work to your satisfaction. I should endeavour—”

Mr. Ferguson stared at him in dumb horror. He had a momentary vision of a sleepless night spent in listening to a nicely-polished speech for the defence. He was seized with a mad desire for flight. He could not leave the building, but he must get away somewhere and think.

He dashed from the room and raced up the dark stairs. And as he arrived at the next floor his eye was caught by a thin pencil of light which proceeded from a door on the left.

No shipwrecked mariner on a desert island could have welcomed the appearance of a sail with greater enthusiasm. He bounded at the door. He knew to whom the room belonged. It was the office of one Blaythwayt; and Blaythwayt was not only an acquaintance, but a sportsman. Quite possibly there might be a pack of cards on Blaythwayt’s person to help to pass the long hours. And if not, at least he would be company and his office a refuge. He flung open the door without going through the formality of knocking. Etiquette is not for the marooned.

“I say, Blaythwayt—” he began, and stopped abruptly.

The only occupant of the room was a girl.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.