There were some days when the
absence of patients seemed to
Dr. Spencer Whiles a thing almost
insupportable. Too late he began
to realize that he had set up
in the wrong neighborhood. In
years to come, he reflected gloomily,
when the great building estate
which was to have been developed
more than a year ago was really
opened up, there might be an
opportunity where he was, a very
excellent opportunity, too, for
a young doctor of ability. Just
now, however, the outlook was
almost hopeless. He found himself
even looking eagerly forward
every day for another visit from
Mr. Inspector Jacks. Another
trip to town would mean a peep
into the world of luxury, whose
doors were so closely barred
against him, and, what was more
important still, it would mean
a fee which would keep the wolf
from the door for another week.
It had come to that with Dr.
Whiles. His little stock of savings
was exhausted. Unless something
turned up within the course of
the next few weeks, he knew very
well that there was nothing left
for him to do but to slip away
quietly into the embrace of the
more shady parts of the great
city, to find a situation somewhere,
somehow, beyond the ken of the
disappointed creditors whom he
would leave behind.
Mr. Inspector Jacks, however,
had apparently no further use,
for the present at any rate,
for his medical friend. On the
other hand, Dr. Spencer Whiles
was not left wholly to himself.
On the fourth day after his visit
to London a motor car drew up
outside his modest surgery door,
and with an excitement which
he found it almost impossible
to conceal, he saw a plainly
dressed young man, evidently
a foreigner and, he believed,
a Japanese, descend and ring
the patients' bell. The doctor
had dismissed his boy a week
ago, from sheer inability to
pay his modest wages, and he
did not hesitate for a moment
about opening the door himself.
The man outside raised his hat
and made him a sweeping bow.
"It is Dr. Spencer Whiles?" he
The doctor admitted the fact
and invited his visitor to enter.
"It is here, perhaps," the
latter continued, "that a gentleman
who was riding a bicycle and
was run into by a motor car,
was brought after the accident
and treated so skilfully?"
"That is so," Dr. Whiles admitted. "There
was nothing much the matter with
him. He had rather a narrow escape."
"I am that gentleman's servant," the
visitor continued with a bland
smile. "He has sent me down here
to see you. The leg which was
injured is perfectly well, but
there was a pain in the side
of which he spoke to you, which
has not disappeared. This morning,
in fact, it is worse,--much worse.
My master, therefore, has sent
me to you. He begs that if it
is not inconvenient you will
return with me at once and examine
The doctor drew a little breath.
This might mean another week
or so of respite!
"Where does your master live?" he
asked the man.
"In the West end of London,
sir," was the reply. "The Square
of St. James it is called."
Dr. Whiles glanced at his watch.
"It will take me some time
to go there with you," he said, "and
I shall have to arrange with
a friend to treat any other patients.
Do you think your master will
understand that I shall need
an increased fee?"
"My master desired me to say," the
other answered, "that he would
be prepared to pay any fee you
cared to mention. Money is not
of account with him. He has not
had occasion to seek medical
advice in London, and as he is
leaving very soon, he did not
wish to send for a strange physician.
He remembered with gratitude
your care of him, and he sends
"That's all right," Dr. Whiles
declared, "so long as it's understood.
You'll excuse me for a moment
while I write a note, and I'll
Dr. Whiles had no note to write,
but he made a few changes in
his toilet which somewhat improved
his appearance. In due course
he reappeared and was rapidly
whirled up to London, the sole
passenger in the magnificent
car. The man who had brought
him the message from his quondam
patient was sitting in front,
next the chauffeur, so Dr. Whiles
had no opportunity of asking
him for any information concerning
his master. Nor did the car itself
slacken speed until it drew up
before the door of the large
corner house in St. James' Square.
A footman in dark livery came
running out; a butler bowed upon
the steps. Dr. Spencer Whiles
was immensely impressed. The
servants were all Japanese, but
their livery and manners were
faultless. He made his way into
the hall and followed the butler
up the broad stairs.
"My master," the latter explained, "will
receive you very shortly. He
is but party dressed at present."
Dr. Spencer Whiles came of
a family of successful tradespeople,
and he was not used to such quiet
magnificence as was everywhere
displayed. Yet, with it all,
there seemed to him to be an
air of gloom about the place,
something almost mysterious in
the silence of the thick carpets,
the subdued voices, and the absence
of maidservants. The house itself
was apparently an old one. He
noticed that the doors were very
heavy and thick, the corridors
roomy, the absence of light almost
remarkable. The apartment into
which he was shown, however,
came as a pleasant surprise.
It was small, but delightfully
furnished in the most modern
fashion. Its only drawback was
that it looked out upon a blank
"My master will come to you
in a few minutes," the butler
announced. "What refreshments
may I have the honor of serving?"
Dr. Whiles waved aside the
invitation,--he would at any
rate remain professional. The
man withdrew, and almost immediately
afterwards Prince Maiyo entered
the room. The doctor rose to
his feet with a little thrill
of excitement. The Prince held
out his hand.
"I am very pleased to see you
again, doctor," he said. "You
looked after me so well last
time that I was afraid I should
have no excuse for sending for
"I am glad to find that you
are not suffering," the doctor
answered. "I understood from
your servant that you were feeling
a good deal of pain in the side."
"It troubles me at times," the
Prince admitted, drawing a chair
up towards his visitor,--"just
sufficiently, perhaps, to give
me the excuse of seeking a little
conversation with you. You must
let me offer you something after
"You are very good," the doctor
answered. "Perhaps I had better
examine you first."
The Prince rang the bell and
waved aside the suggestion.
"That," he said, "can wait.
In my country, you know, we do
not consider that a guest is
properly treated unless he partakes
of our hospitality the moment
he crosses the threshold. The
whiskey and soda water," he ordered
of the butler who appeared at
the door. "We will talk of my
ailments," the Prince continued, "in
a moment or two. Tell me what
you thought of that marvellous
restaurant where I saw you the
The doctor drew a little breath.
"It was you, then!" he
"But naturally," the Prince
murmured. "I took it for granted
that you would recognize me."
The doctor found some difficulty
in proceeding. He was trying
to imagine the cousin of an Emperor
riding a bicycle along a country
road, staggering into his surgery
at midnight, covered with dust,
inarticulate, pointing only to
the wounds beneath his cheap
"Nothing," the Prince continued
easily, "has impressed me more
in your country than the splendor
of your restaurants. You see,
that side of your life represents
something we are altogether ignorant
of in Japan."
"It is a very wonderful place," the
doctor admitted. "We had luncheon,
my friend and I, in the grillroom,
but we came for a few minutes
into the foyer to watch the people
from the restaurant."
The Prince nodded genially.
"By the bye," he remarked, "it
is strange that my very good
friend--Mr. Inspector Jacks--should
also be a friend of yours."
"He is scarcely that," the
doctor objected. "I have known
him for a very short time."
The Prince raised his eyebrows.
The whiskey and soda were brought,
and the doctor helped himself.
How curiously deficient these
Westerners were, the Prince thought,
in every instinct of duplicity!
As clearly as possible the doctor
had revealed the fact that his
acquaintance with Inspector Jacks
was of precisely that nature
which might have been expected.
The Prince sighed. There was
but one course open to him.
"Now, Dr. Whiles," he said, "I
will tell you something. You
must listen to me very carefully,
please. I sent for you not so
much on account of any immediate
pain but because my general health
has been giving me a little trouble
lately. I have come to the conclusion
that I require the services of
a medical attendant always at
The doctor looked at his prospective
"You have not the appearance," he
remarked, "of being in ill health."
"Perhaps not," the Prince answered. "Perhaps
even, there is not for the moment
very much the matter with me.
One has humors, you know, my
dear doctor. I have a somewhat
large suite here with me in England,
but I do not number amongst them
a physician. I wanted to ask
you to accept that position in
my household for two months."
"Do you mean come and live
here?" the doctor asked.
"That is exactly what I do
mean," the Prince answered. "I
am thankful to observe that your
apprehensions are so acute. I
warn you that I am going to make
some very curious conditions.
I do not know whether money is
an object to you. If not, I am
powerless. If it is, I propose
to make it worth your while."
The doctor did not hesitate.
"Money," he said, "is
the greatest object in life
to me. I have
none, and I want some very badly."
The Prince smiled.
"I find your candor delightful," he
declared. "Now tell me, Dr. Whiles,
how many patients have you in
your neighborhood absolutely
dependent upon your services?"
The doctor hesitated, opened
his mouth and closed it again.
"Not one!" he
Once more the Prince's lips
parted. His smile this time was
"I find you, Dr. Whiles," he
announced, "a most charmingly
reasonable person. I make you
my offer, then, with every confidence,
although I warn you that there
will be some strange conditions
attached to it. I ask you to
accept the post of private physician
to this household for the space
of one--it may be two months,
and I offer you also, as an honorarium,
the fee of one thousand guineas."
The doctor sat quite still
for a moment. He was in a condition
when speech was difficult. Then
his eyes fell upon his tumbler
of whiskey and soda still half
filled. He emptied it at a draught.
"A thousand guineas!" he
"I trust that you will find
the sum attractive," the Prince
said smoothly, "because, as I
have warned you before, there
are one or two curious conditions
coupled with the post."
"I don't care what the conditions
are," the doctor said slowly. "I
The Prince nodded.
"You are the man I thought
you were, doctor," he said. "The
first condition, then, is this.
You see the sitting room we are
now in--a pleasant little apartment,
I think,--books, you see, papers,
a smoking cabinet in which I
can assure you that you will
find the finest Havana cigars
and the best cigarettes to be
procured in London. Through here"--the
Prince threw open an inner door--"is
a small sleeping apartment. It
has, as you see, the same outlook.
It is comfortable if not luxurious."
The doctor sighed.
"I am not used to luxury," he
"These two rooms will be yours," the
Prince announced, "and the first
condition of our arrangement
is that until two months are
up, or our engagement is finished,
you do not leave them."
The doctor stared at him blankly.
"Are you in earnest, sir?" he
"In absolute earnest," the
Prince assured him. "Not only
that, but I require you to keep
your whereabouts, until after
the period of time I have mentioned,
an entire secret from every one.
I gather that you are not married,
and that there is no one living
in your house to whom it would
seem necessary to disclose your
movements. In any case, this
is another of my conditions.
You are neither to write nor
receive any letters whilst here.
You are to figure in the neighborhood
from which you came as a man
who has disappeared,--as a man,
in short, who has found it impossible
to pay his way and has preferred
simply to slip out of his place.
At the end of two months you
can reappear or not, as you choose.
That rests with yourself."
The doctor smiled faintly.
To make some sort of disappearance
had been his precise intention,
but to disappear in this fashion
and make his return to the world
with a thousand guineas in his
pocket, had not exactly come
within the scope of his imagination.
It was a situation full of allurements.
Nevertheless he was bewildered.
"I am to live in these two
rooms?" he demanded. "I am to
let no one know where I am, to
write no letters, to receive
none? My duties are to be simply
to treat you?"
"When required," the
Prince remarked dryly.
"I suppose," the doctor asked, "my
friend Mr. Jacks was speaking
the truth when he told me your
"My name is Prince Maiyo," the
Mechanically the doctor helped
himself to another whiskey and
"You are to be my only patient," he
said thoughtfully. "May I take
the liberty of feeling your pulse,
The Prince extended his hand.
The doctor felt it and resumed
"There is, of course, nothing
whatever the matter with you," he
declared. "You are, I should
say, in absolutely perfect health.
You have no need of a physician."
"On the contrary," the Prince
protested, smiling, "I need you,
Dr. Whiles, so much that I am
paying you a thousand guineas--"
"To remain in these two rooms," the
doctor remarked quietly.
"It is not your business to
think that or to know that," the
Prince said. "Do you accept my
"If I should refuse?" the
The Prince hesitated.
"Do not let us suppose that," he
said. "It is not a pleasant suggestion.
I do not think that you mean
"Frankly, I do not," the doctor
answered. "And yet treat it as
a whim of mine and answer my
question. Supposing I should?"
"The matter would arrange itself
in precisely the same way," the
Prince answered. "You would not
leave these rooms for two months."
The doctor leaned back in his
chair and laughed shortly.
"This is rather hard luck on
Inspector Jacks," he said. "He
paid me ten guineas the other
day to lunch with him."
"Mr. Inspector Jacks," the
Prince remarked, "is scarcely
in a position to bid you an adequate
sum for your services."
"It appears to me," the doctor
continued, "that I am kidnapped."
"An admirable word," the Prince
declared. "At what time do you
The doctor smiled.
"I am not used to motoring," he
said, "or interviews of this
exciting character. I lunch,
as a rule, when I can get anything
to eat. The present seems to
me to be a most suitable hour."
The Prince nodded, and rose
to his feet.
"I will send my servant," he
said, "to take your orders. My
cook is very highly esteemed
here, and I can assure you that
you will not be starved. Please
also make out a list of the newspapers,
magazines, and books with which
you would like to be supplied.
I fear that, for obvious reasons,
my people would hardly be able
to anticipate your wants."
"And about that examination?" the
"I shall do myself the pleasure
of seeing you every day," the
Prince answered. "There will
be time enough for that."
With an amiable word of farewell
the Prince departed. The doctor
threw himself into an easy chair.
His single exclamation was laconic