Mr. James B. Coulson was almost
as much at home at the Grand
Hotel, Paris, as he had been
at the Savoy in London. His headquarters
were at the American Bar, where
he approved of the cocktails,patronized
the highballs, and continually
met fellow-countrymen with whom
he gossiped and visited various
places of amusement. His business
during the daytime he kept to
himself, but he certainly was
possessed of a bagful of documents
and drawings relating to sundry
patents connected with the manufacture
of woollen goods, the praises
of which he was always ready
to sing in a most enthusiastic
Mr. Coulson was not a man whose
acquaintance it was difficult
to make. From five to seven every
afternoon, scorning the attractions
of the band outside and the generally
festive air which pervaded the
great tea rooms, he sat at the
corner of the bar upon an article
of furniture which resembled
more than anything else an office
stool, dividing his attention
between desultory conversation
with any other gentleman who
might be indulging in a drink,
and watching the billiards in
which some of his compatriots
were usually competing. It was
not, so far as one might judge,
a strenuous life which Mr. Coulson
was leading. He had been known
once or twice to yawn, and he
had somewhat the appearance of
a man engaged in an earnest but
at times not altogether successful
attempt to kill time. Perhaps
for that reason he made acquaintances
with a little more than his customary
freedom. There was a young Englishman,
for instance, whose name, it
appeared, was Gaynsforth, with
whom, after a drink or two at
the bar, he speedily became on
almost intimate terms.
Mr. Gaynsforth was a young
man, apparently of good breeding
and some means. He was well dressed,
of cheerful disposition, knew
something about the woollen trade,
and appeared to take a distinct
liking to his new friend. The
two men, after having talked
business together for some time,
arranged to dine together and
have what they called a gay evening.
They retired to their various
apartments to change, Mr. Gaynsforth
perfectly well satisfied with
his progress, Mr. James B. Coulson
with a broad grin upon his face.
After a very excellent dinner,
for which Mr. Gaynsforth insisted
upon paying, they went to the
Folies Bergeres, where the Englishman
developed a thirst which, considering
the coolness of the evening,
was nothing short of amazing.
Mr. Coulson, however, kept pace
with him steadily, and toward
midnight their acquaintance had
steadily progressed until they
were certainly on friendly if
not affectionate terms. A round
of the supper places, proposed
by the Englishman, was assented
to by Mr. Coulson with enthusiasm.
About three o'clock in the morning
Mr. Coulson had the appearance
of a man for whom the troubles
of this world are over, and who
was realizing the ecstatic bliss
of a temporary Nirvana. Mr. Gaynsforth,
on the other hand, although half
an hour ago he had been boisterous
and unsteady, seemed suddenly
to have become once more the
quiet, discreet-looking young
Englishman who had first bowed
to Mr. Coulson in the bar of
the Grand Hotel and accepted
with some diffidence his offer
of a drink. To prevent his friend
being jostled by the somewhat
mixed crowd in which they then
were, Mr. Gaynsforth drew nearer
and nearer to him. He even let
his hand stray over his person,
as though to be sure that he
was not carrying too much in
"Say, old man," he whispered
in his ear,--they were sitting
side by side now in the Bal Tabarin,--"if
you are going on like this, Heaven
knows where you'll land at the
end of it all! I'll look after
you as well as I can,--where
you go, I'll go--but we can't
be together every second of the
time. Don't you think you'd be
safer if you handed over your
pocketbook to me?"
"Right you are!" Mr. Coulson
declared, falling a little over
on one side. "Take it out of
my pocket. Be careful of it now.
There's five hundred francs there,
and the plans of a loom which
I wouldn't sell for a good many
Mr. Gaynsforth possessed himself
quickly of the pocketbook, and
satisfied himself that his friend's
description of its contents was
"You've nothing else upon you
worth taking care of?" he whispered. "You
can trust me, you know. You haven't
any papers, or anything of that
Then Mr. James B. Coulson,
who was getting tired of his
part, suddenly sat up, and a
soberer man had never occupied
that particular chair in the
"And if I have, my young friend," he
said calmly, "what the devil
business is it of yours?"
Mr. Gaynsforth was taken aback
and showed it. He recovered himself
as quickly as possible, and realized
that he had been living in a
fool's paradise so far as the
condition of his companion was
concerned. He realized, also,
that the first move in the game
between them had been made and
that he had lost.
"You are too good an actor
for me, Mr. Coulson," he said. "Suppose
we get to business."
"That's all right," Mr. Coulson
answered. "Let's go somewhere
where we can get some supper.
We'll go to the Abbaye Theleme,
and you shall have the pleasure
of entertaining me."
Mr. Gaynsforth handed back
the pocketbook and led the way
out of the place without a word.
It was only a few steps up the
hill, and they found themselves
then in a supper place of a very
different class. Here Mr. Coulson,
after a brief visit to the lavatory,
during which he obliterated all
traces of his recent condition,
seated himself at one of the
small flower-decked tables and
offered the menu to his new friend.
"It's up to you to pay," he
said, "so you shall choose the
supper. Personally, I'm for a
few oysters, a hot bird, and
a cold bottle."
Mr. Gaynsforth, who was still
somewhat subdued, commanded the
best supper procurable on these
lines. Mr. Coulson, having waved
his hand to a few acquaintances
and chaffed the Spanish dancing
girls in their own language,--not
a little to his companion's astonishment,--at
last turned to business.
"Come," he said, "you
and I ought to understand one
You are over here from London
either to pump me or to rob me.
You are either a detective or
a political spy or a secret service
agent of some sort, or you are
on a lay of your own. Now, put
it in a business form, what can
I do for you? Make your offer,
and let's see where we are."
Mr. Gaynsforth began to recover
himself. It did not follow, because
he had made one mistake, that
he was to lose the game.
"I am neither a detective,
Mr. Coulson," he said, "nor a
secret service agent,--in fact,
I am nothing of that sort at
all. I have a friend, however,
who for certain reasons does
not care to approach you himself,
but who is nevertheless very
much interested in a particular
event, or rather incident, in
which you are concerned."
"Good!" Mr. Coulson declared. "Get
"That friend," Mr. Gaynsforth
continued calmly, "is prepared
to pay a thousand pounds for
full information and proof as
to the nature of those papers
which were stolen from Mr. Hamilton
Fynes on the night of March 22nd."
"A thousand pounds," Mr. Coulson
repeated. "Gee whiz!"
"He is also," the Englishman
continued, "prepared to pay another
thousand for a satisfactory explanation
of the murder of Mr. Richard
Vanderpole on the following day.
"Say, your friend's got the
stuff!" Mr. Coulson remarked
"My friend is not a poor man," Mr.
Gaynsforth admitted. "You see,
there's a sort of feeling abroad
that these two things are connected.
I am not working on behalf of
the police. I am not working
on behalf of any one who desires
the least publicity. But I am
working for some one who wants
to know and is prepared to pay."
"That's a very interesting
job you're on, and no mistake," Mr.
Coulson declared. "I wonder you
waste time coming over here on
the spree when you've got a piece
of business like that to look
after.""I came over here," Mr.
Gaynsforth replied, "entirely
on the matter I have mentioned
"What, over here to Paris?" Mr.
"Not only to Paris," the other
replied dryly, "but to discover
one Mr. James B. Coulson, whose
health I now have the pleasure
Mr. Coulson drained the glass
which the waiter had just filled.
"Well, this licks me!" he exclaimed. "How
any one in their senses could
believe that there was any connection
between me and Hamilton Fynes
or that other young swell, I
"You knew Hamilton Fynes," Mr.
Gaynsforth remarked. "That fact
came out at the inquest. You
appeared to have known him better
than most men. Mr. Vanderpole
had just left you when he was
murdered,--that also came out
at the inquest."
"Kind of queer, wasn't it," Mr.
Coulson remarked meditatively, "how
I seemed to get hung up with
both of them? You may also remember
that at the inquest Mr. Vanderpole's
business with me was testified
to by the chief of his department."
"Certainly," Mr. Gaynsforth
answered. "However, that's neither
here nor there. Everything was
properly arranged, so far as
you were concerned, of course.
That doesn't alter my friend's
convictions. This is a business
matter with me, and if the two
thousand pounds don't sound attractive
enough, well, the amount must
be revised, that's all. But I
want you to understand this,
Mr. Coulson, I represent a man
or a syndicate, or call it what
"Call it a Government," Mr.
Coulson muttered under his breath.
"Call it what you will," Mr.
Gaynsforth continued, with an
air of not having heard the interruption, "we
have the money and we want the
information. You can give it
to us if you like. We don't ask
for too much. We don't even ask
for the name of the man who committed
these crimes. But we do want
to know the nature of those papers,
exactly what position Mr. Hamilton
Fynes occupied in the Stamp and
Excise Duty department at Washington,
and, finally, what the mischief
you are doing over here in Paris."
"Have you ordered the supper?" Mr.
Coulson inquired anxiously.
"I have ordered everything
you suggested," Mr. Gaynsforth
answered,--"some oysters, a chicken
en casserole, lettuce salad,
some cheese, and a magnum of
"It is understood that you
are my host?" Mr. Coulson insisted.
"Absolutely," his companion
declared. "I consider it an honor."
"Then," Mr. Coulson said, pointing
out his empty glass to the SOMMELIER, "we
may as well understand one another.
To you I am Mr. James B. Coulson,
travelling in patents for woollen
machinery. If you put a quarter
of a million of francs upon that
table, I am still Mr. James B.
Coulson, travelling in woollen
machinery. And if you add a million
to that, and pile up the notes
so high that they touch the ceiling,
I remain Mr. James B. Coulson,
travelling in patents for woollen
machinery. Now, if you'll get
that firmly into your head and
stick to it and believe it, there's
no reason why you and I shouldn't
have a pleasant evening."
Mr. Gaynsforth, although he
was an Englishman and young,
showed himself to be possessed
of a sense of humor. He leaned
back in his seat and roared with
"Mr. Coulson," he said, "I
congratulate you and your employers.
To the lower regions with business!
Help yourself to the oysters
and pass the wine."