The papers in the thirties and forties were full of his name. “POLICE BAFFLED — MONTALBAN CALLED IN”; “MONTALBAN RECOVERS MISSING DIAMONDS”; “BLACK MARKET RING FOILED BY MONTALBAN”. The city loved him and his eccentricities. Hundreds flocked to the small brownstone house he wouldn’t leave, hoping for some word, some small glimpse of his manifest reality. Each and all were turned away, either by his assistant or his foreign cook. Politely, but firmly. Only those with official business passed along the storied hallway.

In the sixties he withdrew, into his books, into his orchids, into his memories, and was forgotten. Those who knew him came and were rebuffed, fimly, but politely. No unlit cigars were spat into his wastebaskets, no folders bearing the Gazette imprimatur were opened with more than historical interest.

It was a newshawk named Cohen who broke in at last upon that marmoreal silence, spurred, perhaps, by dim memories of his grandfather, likewise a newspaper man. The man who ushered him into a red leather chair was young and canny-looking. Cohen stared at the massive figure behind the desk, baffled.

Montalban raised his head impatiently. “What is it, Archie? It is nearly four.” His large and fleshy face was unlined and youthful, untouched by time, unlovely and unaged.