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.