It was such a stupid thing to plan yet it did seem to be the case. 

Bilby was seated by the window, several feet distant from the group, who were seated in a group.

Davis had stood up, bent his elbow and sat.

Bret and Stephen crossed their legs; their gaze had fallen on the crown of Jeffer’s head. (They were seated.)

Jeffers had recently joined the group. Although he was thought by the others to be proud, Bilby had through various gestures managed to communicate that though he was proud one could also get on with him, as he said.

There remained the woman, or perhaps it was a man, with a long coat draped over his or her legs, a peacoat perhaps, sitting in the alcove. His or her face was directed away from them. She or he was perfectly motionless in the seat.

“I say,” said Davis finally, “I say there you in the alcove, who are you? will you stand up?” The figure remained silent. Davis bent both his elbows, Bilby raised up his arms, Davis mouthed, “Who is that?” at which point the figure stood.

“I will stand,” said the figure in the voice of a man. Many people thought he spoke in the voice of a man they knew by the name of Maxwell so that they said out loud or thought to themselves “Maxwell!” but it turned out to have been spoken in the voice of a man they knew by the name of Hercule, so that now they all said they didn’t know what to think.

And it was notable that on finding that the man’s voice was Hercule’s and not Maxwell’s that they did not affirm the voice was Hercule’s but would only deny it was Maxwell’s, as if the most important thing about Hercule was not that he was Hercule, and had Hercule’s voice, but that Hercule was not Maxwell, and had not his voice.

“Ah but –it’s Maxwell too!” a voice that again sounded like Maxwell’s suddenly said. And here indeed, Maxwell himself had just opened the door, –this at the very moment that Hercule had turned around,– so that everyone could see that both men were actually present. “So, it is Maxwell,” some of them said, while others had been made speechless.

It was as if this had been all planned out to the last detail months ago but no one doubted it was anything but spontaneous and no one pointed out that it was obvious that it must have been planned. It was such a stupid thing to plan yet it did seem to be the case. Hercule and Maxwell met each other in the center of the room and shook hands with wide smiles and bright shining eyes. Clapping each other gaily on the shoulder, they had a way of shaking, almost of shivering, whenever they met and touched.

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