Page:The Intrusion of Jimmy.djvu/308

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flecting that, after all, he was not to blame for any disappointment that might be troubling the other, he switched on his grin again, and walked in.

"Came in for a smoke," he explained, by way of opening the conversation. "Not dancing the next."

"Come in, my boy, come in," said Mr. McEachern. "I was waiting to see you."

Spennie regretted his entrance. He had supposed that the other had heard the news of the breaking-off of the engagement. Evidently, however, McEachern had not. This was a nuisance. The idea of flight came to Spennie, but he dismissed it. As nominal host that night, he had to dance many duty-dances. This would be his only chance of a smoke for hours, and the billiard-room was the best place for it.

He sat down, and lighted a cigarette, casting about the while for an innocuous topic of conversation.

"Like the show?" he inquired.

"Fine," said Mr. McEachern. "By the way—"

Spennie groaned inwardly. He had forgotten that a determined man can change the conversation to any subject he pleases by means of those three words.

"By the way," said Mr. McEachern, "I thought Sir Thomas—wasn't your uncle intending to announce—?"

"Well, yes, he was," said Spennie.

"Going to do it during the dancing, maybe?"

"Well—er—no. The fact is, he's not going to do it at all, don't you know." Spennie inspected the