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The Colossus of Arcadia

A novel by

There was nothing graceful or sinuous-like in the ponderous wheezing approach of the long train with its enormous engine into Monte Carlo station. It may have been, indeed it was, the famous Blue Train; but it came to its final standstill with a clanking of couplings and a succession of convulsive jerks which threw off their balance most of the passengers, who were standing in the corridors hanging out of the windows eager to attract the notice of porters. Whilst the majority of them were fumbling for their tickets and registered luggage slips, a quiet-looking man of indeterminate age, neatly dressed and showing no signs of the night journey, passed out of the barriers, gave up his ticket, and, followed by a porter carrying two suitcases, stepped into the nearest fiacre.

"Place one of the bags here beneath my feet," he told the porter. "Give the other to the driver. Tell him to go to the Hotel de Paris."

The pourboire was adequate, his client's accent proved him to be no stranger to the country, the sun was shining and there was plenty of time to get another job from the same train. The porter removed his hat with a broad smile and with a sweeping bow he stepped aside. The little carriage, with much cracking of the whip by the cocher, mounted the first steep grade, proceeded at a more moderate speed up the second, and entered the Place, with its gardens a blaze of flowers, and the white front of the Casino in the background dominating the busy scene. Again the pourboire offered by the new arrival was satisfactory; and the cocher, removing his hat, seasoned his word of thanks with a smile which was an obvious welcome to the Principality. The late occupant of his vehicle, followed at a respectful distance by the hotel bagagist, who had taken his suitcases, presented himself at the reception desk.

Used availability for E Phillips Oppenheim's The Colossus of Arcadia