So, Martin inclined his head toward the door of Smatt's private office. The Japanese crossed the room. He bowed to Martin, as stately a bow as if Martin were also an "honorable," instead of a poor devil of a law clerk; then, noiselessly as he had entered the outer office, Dr. Ichi disappeared within Smatt's sanctum.
Martin turned to his window again. But his bright day dream was fled, and he could not conjure it back again. The view was without charm. His thoughts, despite himself, persisted in centering upon the dapper little figure now closeted with his employer. The dandified Jap aroused Martin's interest.
What manner of client was this Dr. Ichi? Martin had not seen a single scrap of paper, nor had Smatt dropped a single hint, concerning the case. It was mysterious! Martin was not an overly curious chap, but he was human.
It was another of Smatt's secret cases, thought Martin. Another token of those hidden activities of the old vulture, which he sensed, but did not know about. For, though Martin attended to the routine work, though his duties were responsible—Smatt specialized and was prominent in maritime law—still Martin knew he did not enjoy his employer's complete confidence.
Much of Smatt's time was taken up with cases Martin knew nothing about, with clients who appeared to shun the daylight of the courts. The Nippon Trading Company, for instance! Martin knew Smatt was interested in a company of that name—a strange company, that apparently conducted business without using the mails. And there was business between Ichi and Smatt—money, or Smatt would have nothing to do with it. The mystery aroused Martin's dormant curiosity.
But all his speculation was pointless. Martin bethought himself of the marine affidavit lying uncompleted upon his desk. He turned from the window with the intention of applying himself to that task—and he discovered the office to have a second visitor. Another unusual figure who possessed the penchant for surreptitious entry. He observed the fellow in the very act of closing the office door.
"Say, you! Didn't you see the sign on the door, 'Please Knock'?" exclaimed Martin. "Can't you read English?"
"I'm no knocker, I'm a booster. Besides I don't believe in signs," was the surprising response.
The visitor faced about as he spoke, and Martin took stock of him. He was a hunchback. He was seedily clad in a shiny black suit, but a modish green velvet hat, several sizes too small, perched precariously atop his very large head and gave him an oddly rakish appearance. But his face was pleasing—a wide grin, a snub nose, a pair of twinkling eyes beneath a broad, intelligent forehead. Martin immediately commenced to thaw as the other smiled.
The hunchback carried a book under one arm, a formidable appearing volume. With a dexterous flirt, he bounced it into his hand and thrust it beneath Martin's very nose.
"The bargain of the century—cannot afford to miss it—wonderful opportunity first time offered," he began in a sing-song.