Tales of Mystery
3. The Man With the Watches (continued)
The station clock was upon the stroke of five, and the guard
was about to give the customary signal to the engine-driver when he
observed two belated passengers hurrying down the platform. The
one was an exceptionally tall man, dressed in a long black overcoat
with astrakhan collar and cuffs. I have already said that the
evening was an inclement one, and the tall traveller had the high,
warm collar turned up to protect his throat against the bitter
March wind. He appeared, as far as the guard could judge by so
hurried an inspection, to be a man between fifty and sixty years of
age, who had retained a good deal of the vigour and activity of his
youth. In one hand he carried a brown leather Gladstone bag. His
companion was a lady, tall and erect, walking with a vigorous step
which outpaced the gentleman beside her. She wore a long, fawn-
coloured dust-cloak, a black, close-fitting toque, and a dark veil
which concealed the greater part of her face. The two might very
well have passed as father and daughter. They walked swiftly down
the line of carriages, glancing in at the windows, until the guard,
John Palmer, overtook them.
"Now then, sir, look sharp, the train is going," said he.
"First-class," the man answered.
The guard turned the handle of the nearest door. In the
carriage which he had opened, there sat a small man with a cigar in
his mouth. His appearance seems to have impressed itself upon the
guard's memory, for he was prepared, afterwards, to describe or to
identify him. He was a man of thirty-four or thirty-five years of
age, dressed in some grey material, sharp-nosed, alert, with a
ruddy, weather-beaten face, and a small, closely cropped, black
beard. He glanced up as the door was opened. The tall man paused
with his foot upon the step.
"This is a smoking compartment. The lady dislikes smoke," said
he, looking round at the guard.