Page:The Intrusion of Jimmy.djvu/257

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"I—the fact is, I owed it to a fellow."

"Ha! How did you come to owe it?"

His lordship shuffled.

"You have been gambling," boomed Sir Thomas. "Am I right?"

"No, no. I say, no, no. It wasn't gambling. It was a game of skill. We were playing picquet."

"Kindly refrain from quibbling. You lost this money at cards, then, as I supposed. Just so."

He widened the space between his feet. He intensified his glare. He might have been posing to an illustrator of "Pilgrim's Progress" for a picture of "Apollyon straddling right across the way."

"So," he said, "you deliberately concealed from me the contents of that letter in order that you might extract money from me under false pretenses? Don't speak!" His lordship had gurgled. "You did! Your behavior was that of a—of a—"

There was a very fair selection of evil-doers in all branches of business from which to choose. He gave the preference to the race-track.

"—of a common welsher," he concluded. "But I won't put up with it. No, not for an instant! I insist upon your returning that money to me here and now. If you have not got it with you, go and fetch it."

His lordship's face betrayed the deepest consternation. He had been prepared for much, but not for this. That he would have to undergo what in his school-days he would have called "a jaw" was in-