Page:Leon Wilson - Ruggles of Red Gap.djvu/168

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154
RUGGLES OF RED GAP

"What made me only too glad to consent to it," he said, "is the sodden depravity of that Floud chap. Really he's a menace to the community. I saw from the degenerate leer on his face this morning that he will not be able to keep silent about that little affair of ours back there. Mark my words, he'll talk. And fancy how embarrassing had you continued in the office for which you were engaged. Fancy it being known I had been assaulted by a—you see what I mean. But now, let him talk his vilest. What is it? A mere disagreement between two gentlemen, generous, hot-tempered chaps, followed by mutual apologies. A mere nothing!"

I was conscious of more than a little irritation at his manner of speaking of Cousin Egbert, but this in my new character I could hardly betray.

When he set me down at the Floud house, "Thanks for the breeze-out," I said; then, with an easy wave of the hand and in firm tones, "Good day, Jackson! See you again, old chap!"

I had nerved myself to it as to an icy tub and was rewarded by a glow such as had suffused me that morning in Paris after the shameful proceedings with Cousin Egbert and the Indian Tuttle. I mean to say, I felt again that wonderful thrill of equality—quite as if my superiors were not all about me.

Inside the house Mrs. Effie addressed the last of a heap of invitations for an early reception—"To meet Colonel Marmaduke Ruggles," they read.