tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 66: williams
by manfred skyline
illustrated by roy dismas , rhoda penmarq , and konrad kraus
editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo
williams was a night person, and found his employment as butler with the collinsons congenial. all the members of the family expected immediate service at any hour of the day or night, and an unspoken agreement had evolved that he would be available at night, and that the under-butler or one of the maids would be sufficient during the day after breakfast (when they - the collinsons - tended to be asleep or absent). williams had found that the collinsons expected prompt, but not constant service, and so he was free to spend most of his time at night daydreaming, looking out the windows at park avenue or 86th street, doing crossword puzzles, or doing absolutely nothing at all. especially since the demise of old colonel collinson, who had hired him after the war in which williams had served him as a driver, the nights had passed like a parade of peaceful dreams.
such slight duties as he had to perform at night never bothered or surprised him. so it was with perfect calm, and only a twinge of curiosity, that he observed mister conrad - the most resolutely nocturnal of all the collinsons - exiting from a cab below the window, followed by two persons he had never seen before. conrad was always bringing guests home, usually, but by no means always, young persons of his own class. the brief glance he had of the man and the young woman who were following conrad to the front door led him to surmise that the man, at least, did not fit that description. conrad would let them in with his key, and given the lateness of the hour, would not necessarily expect williams to greet them immediately. but, having nothing else to do, he turned from the window and was heading for the stairs when the telephone rang. he crossed swiftly to the telephone stand and lifted the receiver.