The Plaza is one of the finest hotels in all of New York City. A hotel which exercises a certain amount of discretion over the guests they admit to their august accommodations. Simon Templar, strolling nonchalantly to the front desk of the Plaza hotel, was well aware of this.
As he signed the register Simon Templar, the desk clerk’s forehead creased in worry as he looked up. “Simon Templar?” he asked. “Are you, by any chance, The Saint?”
The corner of Simon’s mouth twitched upward imperceptibly. As a man used to the best hotels, he was used to this sort of thing. With a nod, he confirmed the clerk’s suspicions. “I have been known by that name, yes.”
The clerk’s spine straightened, and he spoke with the utmost courtesy. “I am sorry, Mr. Templar, but I do not know if we have any rooms which would suit you at the moment.”
“It isn’t too difficult to suit me, especially in an establishment of this quality.”
“Yes, well…” the clerk began, only to be cut off by an approaching figure.
The new arrival looked down at the register and introduced himself. “Good evening, Mr. Templar. I am the manager of this hotel. We are flattered by your visit, but I am afraid you do not have a reservation.”
“But obviously you do,” replied Simon with a twinkle in his eye. “I promise you, I am here vacationing, not for any sort of work.” This was, strictly speaking, true. Saintly endeavors usually presented themselves whether Simon was searching for them or not.
“I am sorry, Mr. Templar.”
“As am I,” replied the Saint. “I only came here instead of the Waldorf-Astoria on the advice of a dear friend, Ezekiel Inselheim.” At the name of one of the wealthiest brokers in the city, the hotel manager came to attention. “I rather did him a favor around four years ago or so.”
“Excuse me for a moment, Mister Templar.” Simon smiled as the hotel’s manager walked through a doorway. In a moment he returned with a sheepish look on his face. “Let’s put Mr. Templar in 1807, if that will be all right with him?”
“Thank you,” replied The Saint with a nod. As he sauntered toward the elevators, the desk clerk called his name.
Approaching the desk, Simon was offered an envelope by the clerk. “I turned away for a moment, and when I turned back this was here.”
Simon took the envelope and turned it over. It was addressed simply, to The Saint. Inside, a card with a stylized circle and a phone number, followed by a handwritten note, “You are invited into the Circle. –Burbank.”
“Well, I was here on holiday,” chuckled Simon, as he drew skeletal arms and legs beneath the stylized circle. Around the circle-head he drew a halo before tucking the card into his pocket. “But I suppose there might be more interesting things to be done.”