When Spenser Tait took his seat at the breakfast table, he cast a look around, according to custom, to see that all was as orderly as he could wish. The neatest and most methodical of men, he was positively old maidish in his love of regularity and tidiness. His valet, Dormer,—with him for over fifteen years,—had been trained by such long service into the particular ways of his master, and was almost as exacting as Tait himself in the matter of domestic details. No woman was permitted to penetrate into those chambers in Earls Street, St. James'; but had one been able to do so, she could have found no fault with them, either on the score of taste or of cleanliness. The shell of this hermit crab was eloquent of the idiosyncrasies of its tenant. The main characteristic of the breakfast room was one of severe simplicity. The carpet of green drappled brown, the curtains to match, and the furniture of oak, polished and dark. On the white cloth of the table an appetizing breakfast was set out in silver and china, and a vase of flowers showed that the little gentleman was not unmindful of the requirements of an artistic temperament. Even the Times, carefully cut and warmed, was neatly folded by the silver ringed napkin, and Dormer, standing stiff and lean by his master's chair, was calmly satisfied that no fault could be found with his work. For the past fifteen years, save on occasions of foreign travel, the same etiquette had been observed, the same actions performed, for, like the laws of the Medes and Persians, the habits of Tait were fixed and determined. He was a pleasant creature of thirty-four years, small in stature, clean-shaven and brown-locked. His plump little body was clothed in a well-brushed smoking suit of maroon-colored cloth, his neat feet encased in slippers of red morocco, and he scanned the room through a gold-mounted pince nez. Neat and firm as he was, women did not care for him in the least, and he returned the compliment by heartily disliking the female sex. Yet with men he was a great favorite, and the members of his club liked to hear the sententious speeches of this little man, delivered with point and deliberation in the smoking room from eleven till midnight. When the clock struck twelve he invariably went to bed, and no persuasion or temptation could induce him to break this excellent rule.