THE KEY "More letters and flowers for you, Lord John," said my nurse. Not that I needed a nurse; and, above all things, I needed no more letters or flowers. The waste-paper basket was full. The room smelt like a perfume factory. The mantelpiece and all Other receptacles having an army of occupation, vases and bowls were mobilising on the floor. This would, of course, not be tolerated in hospital; but I was off the sick list, recovering in a private convalescent home. I was fed up with being a wounded hero; the fragrance of too many flowers, and the kindness of too many ladies, was sapping and mining my brain power; consequently, I could invent no excuse for escape. The nurse came in, put down the lilies, and gave me three letters. My heart beat, for I was expecting a note from a woman to whom somehow or Other I was almost engaged, and to whom I didn't in the least wish to be engaged. She would not have looked at me before the war, when I was only a younger brother of the Marquis of Haslemere—and the author of a successful detective story called The Key. Now, however; simply because I'd dropped a few bombs from a monoplane on to a Zeppelin hangar in Belgium, had been wounded in one arm and two legs, and through sheer instinct of self-preservation had contrived to escape, I was a toy worth playing with. She wanted to play with me. All the women I knew, not busy with better toys, wanted to play with me. My brother Haslemere, who had been ashamed of my extremely clever, rather successful book, and the undoubted detective talent it showed, was proud of me as a mere bomb-dropper. So, too, was my sister-in-law. I was the principal object of attraction at the moment in Violet's zoo—I mean her convalescent home. She had cried because men were not being wounded fast enough to fill its expensively appointed rooms; I was captured, therefore, to make up for deficiencies and shown off to Violet's many friends, who were duly photographed bending beautifully over me
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