Simon rose and began his toilet, tubbing in a tin bath—a flat Victorian tin bath—and shaving with a razor taken from a case of seven, each marked with a day of the week.

 

This razor was marked "Tuesday."

 

Having carefully dried "Tuesday" and put it back between "Monday" and "Wednesday," Simon closed the case with the care and precision that marked all his actions, finished[Pg 14] dressing, and looked out of the window to see what sort of day it was.

 

A peep of glorious blue sky caught across the roofs of the opposite houses informed him, leaving him unenthusiastic, and then, having wound up his watch, he came downstairs to the Jacobean dining-room, where tea, toast, frizzled bacon, and a well-aired Times were awaiting him.

 

At a quarter to ten precisely Mudd opened the hall door, verified the fact that the brougham was in waiting and informed his master, helped him into his overcoat—a light summer overcoat—and closed the carriage door on him.

 

A little after ten Simon reached Old Serjeants' Inn and entered his office.

 

Brownlow, the chief clerk, had just arrived, and Simon, nodding to him, passed into his private room, where his letters were laid out, hung up his hat and coat, and set to business.

 

It was a sight to watch his face as he read letter after letter, laying each in order under a marble paper-weight. One might have fancied oneself watching Law at work, in seclusion and unadorned with robes. He did not need glasses—his eyes were still the eyes of a young man.

 

Having finished his letters, he rang for his stenographer and began dictating replies, [Pg 15]sending out now and again for Brownlow to consult upon details; then, this business finished and alone again, he sat resting for a moment, leaning back in his chair and trimming his nails with the little penknife that lay on the table. It was his custom at twelve o'clock precisely to have a glass of old brown sherry. It was a custom of the firm; Andrew Pettigrew had done the same in his day and had handed on the habit to his son. If a favoured client were present the client would be asked to have a glass, and the bottle and two glasses were kept in the John Tann safe in the corner of the room. Ye gods! Fancy in your modern solicitor's office a wine-bottle in the principal safe and the solicitor asking a client to "have a drink"! Yet the green-seal sherry, famous amidst the cognoscenti, and the safe and the atmosphere of the room and the other-day figure of Simon, all were in keeping, part of a unique and Georgian whole, like the component parts of a Toby jug.

 

The old silver-faced clock on the mantel, having placed its finger on midday, set up its silvery lisp, and Simon, rousing himself from his reverie, rose, drew a bunch of keys from his pocket and opened the safe.

 

Then he stood looking at what was to be seen inside.

 

The safe contained two deed-boxes, one on top of the other, on the iron fire-and-burglar-proof floor, and by the deed-boxes stood the sherry bottle and the cut-glass satellite wine-glasses, whilst upon the topmost deed-box reposed a black leather wallet.