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risen and was talking to some people who had just come in.

"Is he one of the firm?" he remarked. "His face seems familiar."

"Oh, no!" said the girl. "He is—just a friend. What have you been doing this afternoon?"

"That, at any rate, is straight and to the point," laughed Hugh. "If you want to know, I've just had a most depressing interview."

"You're a very busy person, aren't you, my ugly one?" she murmured.

"The poor fellow, when I left him, was quite prostrated with grief, and—er—pain," he went on mildly.

"Would it be indiscreet to ask who the poor fellow is?" she asked.

"A friend of your father's, I think," said Hugh, with a profound sigh. "So sad. I hope Mr. Peterson's neck is less stiff by now?"

The girl began to laugh softly.

"Not very much, I'm afraid. And it's made him a little irritable. Won't you wait and see him?"

"Is he here now?" said Hugh quickly.

"Yes," answered the girl. 'With his friend whom you've just left. You're quick, mon ami—quite quick." She leaned forward suddenly. "Now, why don't you join us instead of so foolishly trying to fight us? Believe me, Monsieur Hugh, it is the only thing that can possibly save you. You know too much."

"Is the invitation to amalgamate official, or from your own charming brain?" murmured Hugh.