Page:The Intrusion of Jimmy.djvu/219

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201
A LESSON IN PICQUET

Imagination boggled at the prospect. In the summer and autumn, when there was shooting, his lordship was not indisposed to a stay at the home of his fathers. But all the year round! Better a broken heart inside the radius than a sound one in the country in the winter.

"But, by gad!" mused his lordship; "if I had as much as a couple—yes, dash it, even a couple of thousand a year, I'd chance it, and ask Katie to marry me, dashed if I wouldn't!"

He walked on, drawing thoughtfully at his cigarette. The more he reviewed the situation, the less he liked it. There was only one bright spot in it, and this was the feeling that now money must surely get a shade less tight. Extracting the precious ore from Sir Thomas hitherto had been like pulling back-teeth out of a bull-dog. But, now, on the strength of this infernal engagement, surely the uncle might reasonably be expected to scatter largesse to some extent.

His lordship was just wondering whether, if approached in a softened mood, the other might not disgorge something quite big, when a large, warm rain-drop fell on his hand. From the bushes round about came an ever increasing patter. The sky was leaden.

He looked round him for shelter. He had reached the rose-garden in the course of his perambulations. At the far end was a summerhouse. He turned up his coat-collar, and ran.