IT is difficult to say what it was that first caused Ronald Standish to adopt his particular profession. Indeed, it is doubtful whether it should be called a profession in view of the fact that he worked at it for love and only when the spirit moved him. Case after case he would turn down because they failed to interest him: then, apparently quite capriciously, he would take one up, vanish for a space, and then return as unobtrusively as he had departed to his ordinary life of sport.
That these sudden disappearances proved a little embarrassing to his friends is not to be wondered at. Captains of touring cricket elevens, secretaries of golf clubs, were wont to raise protesting hands to heaven when sometimes, at the last moment, Standish backed out of a match. But having played for his county at cricket, as well as being a genuine scratch man at golf, they forgave him and continued to include him in their teams.
Had he chosen to take up the art of detection seriously there is no doubt that he would have attained a world-wide reputation. He had an uncanny knack of sorting out the relevant from a mass of irrelevant facts, and refusing to be diverted by even the most ingenious red herring. But as he worked for fun and not because he had to, his ability was known to a comparatively small coterie only.