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It was six o'clock when I arrived at the Hotel Universal. I washed, changed my clothes, and was shaved in the barber's shop. Afterwards, I spent, I think, the ordinary countryman's evening about town—having some regard always to the purpose of my visit. I dined at my club, went on to the Empire with a couple of friends, supped at the Savoy, and, after a brief return visit to the club, a single game of billiards and a final whisky and soda, returned to my hotel contented and sleepy, and quite prepared to tumble into bed. By some chance—the history of nations, as my own did, will sometimes turn upon such slight events—I left my door ajar whilst I sat upon the edge of the bed finishing a cigarette and treeing my boots, preparatory to depositing them outside. Suddenly my attention was arrested by a somewhat curious sound. I distinctly heard the swift, stealthy footsteps of a man running at full speed along the corridor. I leaned forward to listen. Then, without a moment's warning, they paused outside my door. It was hastily pushed open and as hastily closed. A man, half clothed and panting, was standing facing me—a strange, pitiable object. The boots slipped from my fingers. I stared at him in blank bewilderment.

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