Page:The Intrusion of Jimmy.djvu/247

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
229
FAMILY JABS

every breeze. The blank despair of his expression when he held bad cards made bluffing expensive. The honest joy that bubbled over in his eyes when his hand was good acted as an efficient danger-signal to his grateful opponents. Two weeks of poker had led to his writing to his uncle a distressed, but confident, request for more funds; and the avuncular foot had come down with a joyous bang. Taking his stand on the evils of gambling, Sir Thomas had changed the conditions of the money-market for his nephew with a thoroughness that effectually prevented the possibility of the youth's being again caught by the fascinations of poker. The allowance vanished absolutely; and in its place there came into being an arrangement. By this, his lordship was to have whatever money he wished, but he must ask for it, and state why it was needed. If the request were reasonable, the cash would be forthcoming; if preposterous, it would not. The flaw in the scheme, from his lordship's point of view, was the difference of opinion that can exist in the minds of two men as to what the words reasonable and preposterous may be taken to mean.

Twenty pounds, for instance, would, in the lexicon of Sir Thomas Blunt, be perfectly reasonable for the current expenses of a man engaged to Molly McEachern, but preposterous for one to whom she had declined to remain engaged. It is these subtle shades of meaning that make the English language so full of pitfalls for the foreigner.