Page:The Intrusion of Jimmy.djvu/261

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would have loaned anything to anybody, yielded the required five pounds without a murmur.

But what was five pounds? The garment of gloom and the intellectual pallor were once more prominent when his lordship repaired to his room to don the loud tweeds which, as Lord Herbert, he was to wear in the first act.

There is a good deal to be said against stealing, as a habit; but it cannot be denied that, in certain circumstances, it offers an admirable solution of a financial difficulty, and, if the penalties were not so exceedingly unpleasant, it is probable that it would become far more fashionable than it is.

His lordship's mind did not turn immediately to this outlet from his embarrassment. He had never stolen before, and it did not occur to him directly to do so now. There is a conservative strain in all of us. But, gradually, as it was borne in upon him that it was the only course possible, unless he were to grovel before Hargate on the morrow and ask for time to pay—an unthinkable alternative—he found himself contemplating the possibility of having to secure the money by unlawful means. By the time he had finished his theatrical toilet, he had definitely decided that this was the only thing to be done.

His plan was simple. He knew where the money was, in the dressing-table in Sir Thomas's room. He had heard Saunders instructed to put it there. What could be easier than to go and get it? Everything was in his favor. Sir Thomas would be downstairs,