The interior of the cab we at last hailed stank of alcohol and horse urine. As the wheels clattered on rough cobbles, Gus elaborated on what startling information he had to impart.
"Someone’s been asking ‘round ‘bout you, Lordship," he said.
"Your gentleman with the thistle-down hair?"
"No, ‘nother fellow entirely. A regular gentleman of three outs, an’ no mistake. All rough and tumble. He’d be handsome, I bet, iffen he cleaned up."
"Describe him to me," I said.
"Little shorter than you, Lordship, and thin. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Looked young. I didna speak to him myself, but my mate Fritz did, an’ I watched."
"Did this fellow say anything?"
"Something about revenge, Lordship."
The subsequent obscenity I uttered must have been of sufficient volume to throw a fright into the driver, for the cab stuttered to a halt.
"Everyt’ing all right, guv?" came the cry.
"Yes, damn you, carry on."
Hobbes! The blasted, thrice-damned Calvin Hobbes! Somehow the blackguard had followed me to London, and was even now conspiring against me. I rubbed my eyes with my hand.
"This is a fine turn of events," I mumbled.
"Lordship, what d’you want me to do?"
I gathered my resolve. "I must devise a scheme to remove Hobbes from my presence once and for all. But how? If not for that infernal duel--"
I stopped, as illumination flooded my brain. I saw at once the way to victory, how neatly the disposition of Hobbes would fit into my plans for Sir Julius, and indeed would enrich them.
"Gus," I said with some forcefulness, "I need, almost immediately, for you to find me a queer cole maker."
Gus gaped, his mouth hanging open. "How do you know about a thing like that?" he gasped.
"You would be surprised at what I know, young Gus. Can you find me one?"
Gus closed his mouth and took on an expression of steely determination. "I know just the sharper, Lordship. Man name of Jones."
"Excellent," I said. "Anything else?"
"You wanted me to find out where His Nibs’ son drops his wins, aye? Well, I did."
"And where is that?"
"Posh nanny house in clubland. Him and his da are members." He frowned in thought. "Called Brooks’s, I think."
I sighed. "Of course."
The chief thrust of my offensive would take place on the tables. After all, to hold the dice is to be at war. Hobbes, far from complicating things, would make them much smoother.
But it appeared I would have to gain admittance to Brooks’s after all.
The Life, Times, and Misadventures of Dennis St. Michel, Viscount of Stokington, Soldier, Gambler, Diplomat, Scoundrel, Notorious Rakehell, and Lord of Menacing House, in his Own Words.