A man stood irresolutely before the imposing portals of Cainbury House, a large office building let out to numerous small tenants, and harbouring, as the indicator on the tiled wall of the vestibule testified, some thirty different professions. The man was evidently poor, for his clothes were shabby and his boots were down at heel. He was as evidently a foreigner. His clean-shaven eagle face was sallow, his eyes were dark, his eyebrows black and straight. He passed up the few steps into the hall and stood thoughtfully before the indicator. Presently he found what he wanted. At the very top of the list and amongst the crowded denizens of the fifth floor was a slip inscribed: "THE GOSSIP'S CORNER" He took from his waistcoat pocket a newspaper cutting and compared the two then stepped briskly,[Pg 6] almost jauntily, into the hall, as though all his doubts and uncertainties had vanished, and waited for the elevator. His coat was buttoned tightly, his collar was frayed, his shirt had seen the greater part of a week's service, the Derby hat on his head had undergone extensive renovations, and a close observer would have noticed that his gloves were odd ones. He walked into the lift and said, "Fifth floor," with a slight foreign accent.
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About the Author
Richard Horatio Edgar Wallace (1 April 1875 - 10 February 1932) was an English writer. Born into poverty as an illegitimate London child, Wallace left school at age 12. He joined the army at age 21 and was a war correspondent during the Second Boer War, for Reuters and the Daily Mail. Struggling with debt, he left South Africa, returned to London, and began writing thrillers to raise income, publishing books including The Four Just Men (1905). Drawing on his time as a reporter in the Congo, covering the Belgian atrocities, Wallace serialised short stories in magazines such as The Windsor Magazine and later published collections such as Sanders of the River (1911). He signed with Hodder and Stoughton in 1921 and became an internationally recognised author.