Page:What will he do with it.djvu/647

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playing for nothing ; and Losely saw at a glance that the man was, nevertheless, trying to cheat the woman. Positively he took that man into more respect ; and that man, noticing the in- terest with which Losely surveyed the game, looked up, and said, "While the time. Sir? What say you ? A game or two? I can stake my pistoles — that is. Sir, so far as a fourpenny bit goes. If ignorant of this French game. Sir, cribbage or all- fours."

"No," said Losel)'^, mournfully; "there is nothing to be got out of you ; otherwise — " He stopped and sighed. " But I have seen you under other circumstances. What has become of your Theatrical Exhibition ? Gambled it away ? Yet, from what I see of your play, I think you ought not to have lost, Mr. Rugge."

The ex-manager started.

"What! You knew me before the Storm ! — before the light- ning struck me, as I may say. Sir — and falling into difficulties, I became — a wreck ? You knew me i* — not of the Company ? — a spectator ? "

" As you say — a spectator. You had once in your employ an actor — clever old fellow. Waife, I think, he was called."

" Ha ! hold ! At that name, Sir, my wounds bleed afresh. From that execrable name. Sir, there hangs a tale ! "

" Indeed ! Then it will be a relief to you to tell it," said Losel)', resettling his feet on the hob, and snatching at any diversion from his own reflections.

" Sir, when a gentleman, who is a gentleman, asks, as a favor, a specimen of my powers of recital, not professionally, and has before him the sparkling goblet, which he does not invite me to share, he insults my fallen fortunes. Sir, I am poor — I own it ; I have fallen into the sere and yellow leaf, Sir ; but I have still in this withered bosom the heart of a Briton ! "

" Warm it, Mr. Rugge. Help yourself to the brandy — and lady too."

" Sir, y?)u are a gentleman ; Sir, your health. Hag, drink bet- ter days to us both. That woman. Sir, is a hag, but she is an honor to her sex — faithful ! "

" It is astonishing how faithful ladies are when not what is called ])eautiful. I speak from painful experience," said Losely, growing debonnair as the liquor relaxed his gloom, and regain- ing that levity of tongue which sometimes strayed into wit, and which, springing originally from animal spirits and redundant health — still came to him mechanically whenever roused by companionship from alternate intervals of lethargy and pain.

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