الجزء الرابع من قصص اكسفورد The man with white hair


Nick stopped his car in front of the hotel. He looked carefully before he got out, but there was nobody with white hair near the hotel.

He half-ran through the hotel doors and went to the desk inside.



'I'm looking for a man with very short white hair,' he said to the woman behind the desk. 'He's staying here, I think. He's about sixty years old, and he's tall and thin.'



The woman did not look very interested. 'There are a lot of visitors in the hotel,' she said. 'Do you know his name?'

'No, I don't,' Nick said. 'He's, er, a friend of a friend, you see. He arrived in Vancouver yesterday, and I must find him. It's very important. Please help me!'

The woman looked at him. 'There are three hundred and fifty rooms in this hotel,' she said, 'and maybe thirty or forty men with white hair. How can I remember all their names?' She turned away to answer a telephone call.

Nick walked away from the desk.

'A drink,' he thought. 'I need a drink.' He went into the hotel bar, got a drink and sat down at a table.

'So what do I do now?' he thought.

And then he remembered something. A letter in the girl's half-open bag in the Whistler cafe.

. . . and we can meet at the Empress Hotel, Victoria, Vancouver Island, on Friday afternoon . . .

And tomorrow was Friday.

'I'm going to Victoria, on Vancouver Island!' he thought. 'To the Empress Hotel!'



***



Nick had dinner in the hotel that evening. He finished eating and got up from his table . . . and saw the man with white hair.

Nick moved quickly. The man was at the hotel desk. Nick could see the white head above the other heads near the desk.

'Excuse me!' said Nick. He pushed past the people in the hotel restaurant. A small boy ran in front of him and Nick ran into him. The boy and Nick fell down on the floor. The boy began to cry.

'Hey!' said a woman behind Nick.

'I'm very sorry!' said Nick. He got up and helped the boy to his feet. 'Are you OK?' he asked the boy.

'Be more careful next time,' said the woman.

Nick moved away quickly, but when he looked back at the hotel desk, he couldn't see the man with white hair. He pushed through the crowd of people.

'That man!' he shouted at the woman behind the desk. 'That man with short white hair. Where did he go?'

The woman looked at Nick. 'Mr Vickers?' she said. 'I don't know.'

'Vickers? Is that his name?' said Nick. 'What's his room number?'

'I'm sorry, I can't tell you that,' the woman said. 'But I need to-' began Nick.

The woman turned away to answer the telephone. After a second or two, Nick went upstairs to his room. 'Vickers,' he thought. 'Does Meg Hutson know Mr Vickers? I need some answers, and I need them quickly!'


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