Page:The Intrusion of Jimmy.djvu/19

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9
JIMMY MAKES A BET

The Strollers began to sit up and take notice. The magic word "bet," when uttered in that room, had rarely failed to add a zest to life. They looked expectantly at Arthur Mifflin.

"Go to bed, Jimmy," said the portrayer of cracksmen. "I'll come with you and tuck you in. A nice, strong cup of tea in the morning, and you won't know there has ever been anything the matter with you."

A howl of disapproval rose from the company. Indignant voices accused Arthur Mifflin of having a yellow streak. Encouraging voices urged him not to be a quitter.

"See! They scorn you," said Jimmy. "And rightly. Be a man, Arthur. What'll you bet?"

Mr. Mifflin regarded him with pity.

"You don't know what you're up against, Jimmy," he said. "You're half a century behind the times. You have an idea that all a burglar needs is a mask, a blue chin, and a dark lantern. I tell you he requires a highly specialized education. I've been talking to these detective fellows, and I know. Now, take your case, you worm. Have you a thorough knowledge of chemistry, physics, toxicology—"

"Sure."

"—electricity and microscopy?"

"You have discovered my secret."

"Can you use an oxy-acetylene blow-pipe?"

"I never travel without one."