Desmond went out and donned the vest and coat and overcoat, and, thus arrayed, returned to the Pullman, hat in hand.
Crook called out to him as he entered
"Not so springy in the step, sir, if you please. Remember you're forty-three years of age with a Continental upbringing. You'll have to walk like a German, toes well turned out and down on the heel every time. So, that's better. Now, have a look at yourself!"
He turned and touched a blind. A curtain rolled up with a click, disclosing a full length mirror immediately opposite Desmond.
Desmond recoiled in astonishment. He could scarcely credit his own eyes. The glass must be bewitched, he thought for a moment, quite overwhelmed by the suddenness of the shock. For instead of the young face set on a slight athletic body that the glass was wont to show him, he saw a square, rather solid man in ugly, heavy clothes, with a brown silky beard and gold spectacles. The disguise was baffling in its completeness. The little wizard, who had effected this change and who now stood by, bashfully twisting his fingers about, had transformed youth into middle age. And the bewildering thing was that the success of the disguise did not lie so much in the eternal adjuncts, the false beard, the pencilled wrinkles, as in the hideous collar, the thick padded clothes, in short, in the general appearance.
For the first time since his talk with the Chief at the United Service Club, Desmond felt his heart grow light within him. If such miracles were possible, then he could surmount the other difficulties as well.
"Crook," he said, "I think you've done wonders. What do you say, Matthews?"
"I've seen a lot of Mr. Crook's work in my day, sir," answered the clerk, "but nothing better than this. It's a masterpiece, Crook, that's what it is."