Page:The Intrusion of Jimmy.djvu/280

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with a start. "You still here? By the way—" he eyed Lord Dreever curiously—"I never thought of asking before—what on earth are you doing here? Why were you behind the curtain? Were you playing hide-and-seek?"

His lordship was not one of those who invent circumstantial stories easily on the spur of the moment. He searched rapidly for something that would pass muster, then abandoned the hopeless struggle. After all, why not be frank? He still believed Jimmy to be of the class of the hero of "Love, the Cracksman." There would be no harm in confiding in him. He was a good fellow, a kindred soul, and would sympathize.

"It's like this," he said. And, having prefaced his narrative with the sound remark that he had been a bit of an ass, he gave Jimmy a summary of recent events.

"What!" said Jimmy. "You taught Hargate picquet? Why, my dear man, he was playing picquet like a professor when you were in short frocks. He's a wonder at it."

His lordship started.

"How's that?" he said. "You don't know him, do you?"

"I met him in New York, at the Strollers' Club. A pal of mine, an actor, this fellow Mifflin I mentioned just now, put him up as a guest. He coined money at picquet. And there were some pretty use-