he big bright fireside of that small dark smoking-room where, a year ago, on the last evening of my stay here, he and I had at length spoken to each other, I reviewed in detail the tragic experience he had told me; and I simply reveled in reminiscent sympathy with him.
A. V. LAIDER--I had looked him up in the visitors'-book on the night of his arrival. I myself had arrived the day before, and had been rather sorry there was no one else staying here. A convalescent by the sea likes to have some one to observe, to wonder about, at meal-time. I was glad when, on my second evening, I found seated at the table opposite to mine another guest. I was the gladder because he was just the right kind of guest. He was enigmatic. By this I mean that he did not look soldierly or financial or artistic or anything definite at all. He offered a clean slate for speculation. And, thank heaven! he evidently wasn't going to spoil the fun by engaging me in conversation later on. A decently unsociable man, anxious to be left
The first few pages, before the narrator speaks to the eponymous hero (whose surname is an anagram for 'derail'; this is no accident...) are the most entertaining as the narrator ruminates on abandoned letters, and how important it is not to strike up a friendship with strangers, even if you're staying at the same resort and see each other every day. The ending is a bit of a let-down, though.