Page:The Intrusion of Jimmy.djvu/249

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playing hare-and-hounds, and scattering the scent on the stairs. This sort of thing sometimes made him regret the old days. In Brunt's Stores, Rule Sixty-seven imposed a fine of half-a-crown on employees convicted of paper-dropping.

"I—" began his lordship.

"Why "—Sir Thomas straightened himself—"it's addressed to you."

"I was just going to pick it up. It's—er—there was a note in it."

Sir Thomas gazed at the envelope again. Joviality and benevolence resumed their thrones.

"And in a feminine handwriting," he chuckled. He eyed the limp peer almost roguishly. "I see, I see," he said. "Very charming, quite delightful! Girls must have their little romance! I suppose you two young people are exchanging love-letters all day. Delightful, quite delightful! Don't look as if you were ashamed of it, my boy! I like it. I think it's charming."

Undoubtedly, this was the opening. Beyond a question, his lordship should have said at this point:

"Uncle, I cannot tell a lie. I cannot even allow myself to see you laboring under a delusion which a word from me can remove. The contents of this note are not what you suppose. They run as follows—"

What he did say was:

"Uncle, can you let me have twenty pounds?"

Those were his amazing words. They slipped out. He could not stop them.