Page:BulldogDrummondSapper.djvu/16

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12
PROLOGUE

his face was aquiline and stern. The eyes, which had so impressed the manager, seemed now to be a cold grey-blue; the thick brown hair, flecked slightly with grey, was brushed back from a broad forehead. His hands were large and white; not effeminate, but capable and determined: the hands of a man who knew what he wanted, knew how to get it, and got it. To even the most superficial observer the giver of the feast was a man of power: a man capable of forming instant decisions and of carrying them through.…

And if so much was obvious to the superficial observer, it was more than obvious to the three men who stood by the fire watching him. They were what they were simply owing to the fact that they were not superficial observers of humanity; and each one of them, as he watched his host, realised that he was in the presence of a great man. It was enough: great men do not send fool invitations to dinner to men of international repute. It mattered not what form his greatness took—there was money in greatness, big money. And money was their life…

The Count advanced first to the American.

"Mr. Hocking, I believe," he remarked in English, holding out his hand. "I am glad you managed to come."

The American shook the proffered hand, while the two Germans looked at him with sudden interest. As the man at the head of the great American cotton trust, worth more in millions than he could count, he was entitled to their respect…

"That's me, Count," returned the millionaire in his nasal twang. "I am interested to know to what I am indebted for this invitation."