The Man with the Clubfoot by Valentine Williams


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Page 1

VII. In which a Silver Star acts as a Charm

VIII. I hear of Clubfoot and meet his Employer

IX. I encounter an old Acquaintance who leads me to a delightful
Surprise

X. A Glass of Wine with Clubfoot

XI. Miss Mary Prendergast risks her Reputation

XII. His Excellency the General is worried

XIII. I find Achilles in his Tent

XIV. Clubfoot comes to Haase's



XVI. A Hand-clasp by the Rhine

XVII. Francis takes up the Narrative

XVIII. I go on with the Story

XIX. We have a Reckoning with Clubfoot

XX. Charlemagne's Ride

XXI. Red Tabs explains




The Man with the Clubfoot




CHAPTER I

I SEEK A BED IN ROTTERDAM


The reception clerk looked up from the hotel register and shook his head
firmly. "Very sorry, saire," he said, "not a bed in ze house." And he
closed the book with a snap.

Outside the rain came down heavens hard. Every one who came into the
brightly lit hotel vestibule entered with a gush of water. I felt I
would rather die than face the wind-swept streets of Rotterdam again.

I turned once more to the clerk who was now busy at the key-rack.

"Haven't you really a corner? I wouldn't mind where it was, as it is
only for the night. Come now..."

"Very sorry, saire. We have two gentlemen sleeping in ze bathrooms
already. If you had reserved..." And he shrugged his shoulders and bent
towards a visitor who was demanding his key.

I turned away with rage in my heart. What a cursed fool I had been not
to wire from Groningen! I had fully intended to, but the extraordinary
conversation I had had with Dicky Allerton had put everything else out
of my head. At every hotel I had tried it had been the same
story--Cooman's, the Maas, the Grand, all were full even to the
bathrooms. If I had only wired....

As I passed out into the porch I bethought myself of the porter. A hotel
porter had helped me out of a similar plight in Breslau once years ago.
This porter, with his red, drink-sodden face and tarnished gold braid,
did not promise well, so far as a recommendation for a lodging for the
night was concerned. Still...

I suppose it was my mind dwelling on my experience at Breslau that made
me address the man in German. When one has been familiar with a foreign
tongue from one's boyhood, it requires but a very slight mental impulse
to drop into it. From such slight beginnings do great enterprises
spring. If I had known the immense ramification of adventure that was to
spread its roots from that simple question, I verily believe my heart
would have failed me and I would have run forth into the night and the
rain and roamed the streets till morning.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Thu 22nd Aug 2019, 2:55