Pelham Grenville Wodehouse
FILLMORE had the air of a man who thought it wasn’t loaded. A wild, startled expression had settled itself upon his face, and he was breathing heavily.
“Cheer up!” said Sally. Fillmore jumped like stricken jelly. “Tell me all,” said Sally, sitting down beside him. “I leave you a gentleman of large and independent means, and I come back and find you one of the wage slaves again. How did it all happen?” “Sally,” said Fillmore, “I will be frank with you. Can you lend me ten dollars?”
“I don’t see how you make that out an answer to my question, but here you are.”
“Thanks,” Fillmore pocketed the bill. “I’ll let you have it back next week. I want to take Miss Winch out to lunch.”
“If that’s what you want it for, don’t look on it as a loan; take it as a gift with my blessing thrown in” She looked over her shoulder at Miss Winch, who, the cases of rehearsal being temporarily suspended, was practising golf shots with an umbrella at the other side of the stage. “How ever did you have the sense to fall in love with her, Fill?”
asked Fillmore, brightening.
She’s just the right girl for me,
“Do you like her?
“I love her.”
“I knew you would, isn’t she?”
“She certainly is.”
“Yes. And she’s got brains enough for two, which is the exact quantity the girl who marries you will need.” Fillmore drew himself up with as much hauteur as a stout man sitting in a low chair can achieve. “Some day I will make you believe in me, Sally.”
“You’ve lost all your money?”
“I have suffered certain reverses.”
“Well......” Fillmore hesitat-
ed. “I’ve had bad luck, you know.
First I bought Consolidated Rails for the rise, and they fell. So that went wrong.”
“And then I bought Russian rubles for the fall, and they rose.
So that went wrong.”
“Good gracious! Why, I’ve heard all this before.”
“Who told you?”
“No, I remember now. It’s just that you remind me of a man I met at Roville. He was telling me the story of his life and how he had made a hash of everything.
Well, that took all you had, I suppose?”
“Net quite. I had a few thousands left, and I went into a deal that really did look cast iron.”
• And that went wrong!”
*«TT WASN’T my fault,” said •*Fillmore querulously. “It was just my poisonous luck. A man I knew got me to join a syndicate which had bought up a lot of whisky. The idea was to ship it into Chicago in herring barrels. We should have cleaned up big only a mutt of a detective took it into his darned head to go fooling about with a crowbar.
Officious ass! It wasn’t as if the barrels weren’t labeled ‘Herrings’ as plainly as they could be,” said Fillmore with honest indignation. He shuddered. “I nearly got arrested.”
“But went wrong? Well, that's something to be thankful for. Stripes wouldn’t suit your figure.” Sally gave his arm a squeeze. "FM11, I’ll tell you what I'll do. They all say it’s the first of money that counts in building a vast fortune. I’ll lend you some of mine.”
“You will? Sally, I always said you were an ace.” “I never heard you. You ought’nt to mumble so.” “Will you lend me twenty thousand dollars?”
Sally patted his hand soothingly. “Come slowly down to earth,” she said. “Two hundred was the sum I had in mind.”
“I want twenty thousand.”
“You'd better rob a bank. Any policeman will direct you to a good bank.”
I "yyilATS HAPPENED SO FAR: Sally Nicholas, ¡
pretty, vivacious, engaged to Gerald Foster, a 1
I struggling playwright, falls heir to a fortune on
I her 21 st birthday. Later enjoying herself at fío
I rille, France, she receives word Gerald's play is
f to have a trial run at Detroit, Mich., the ¡day =
i being ‘daken up" by an eccentric New York mil
1 _ Donaire to supply a leading role for Mabel 1
I Hobson, a flame ;,] the magnate's whom f
Î. Sally detests. Sally leaves for lanne, but I
1 just before her departure meets in the casino, a 1
I red-haired English adventurer, Lancelot (Ginger) §
I Kemp, in a rare run of luck at the wheel. Ginger 1
I in his enthusiasm proposes, greatly amusing the 1
I girl. Later, he introduces her to his cousin, f
I Bruce Cai'myle, an odd stick of the stiff-necked
I aristocratic school. Sally reaches Detroit to find
I Gerald’s production hung up through an outbreak §
1 of Spanish influenza, overhead expenses running §
I high and the troupe demoralized.
“I’ll tell you why I want twenty thousand.”
“You might just mention it.”
“If I had twenty thousand, I’d buy this production from Cracknell. He’ll be back in a few minutes to tell us that the Hobson woman has quit, and if she really has you take it from me that he will close the show. And even if he manages to jolly her along this time, and she comes back, it’s going to happen sooner or later. It’s a shame to let a show like this close. I believe in it, Sally. It’s a darned good play. With Elsa Doland in the big part, it couldn’t fail.”
“He’d sell for less than that, of course, but one would need a bit on hand. You have to face a loss on the road before coming into New York. I’d give you 10 per cent on your money, Sally.”
Sally found herself wavering. He had touched her imagina-
“It’s a gold mine!” Sally’s prudent side stirred in its sleep.
Fillmore had chosen an unfortunate expression. To the novice in finance the term gold mine has repellent associations.
At this' moment however two things happened. Gerald and Mr. Bunbury, in the course of their perambulations, came into the glow of the footlights, and she was able to see Gerald’s face; and
at the same time Mr. Reginald Cracknell hurried on to the stage, his whole demeanor that of the bearer of evil tidings.
The sight of Gerald's face annihilated Sally’s prudence at a single stroke. Gerald was miserable, and she had it in her power to make him happy. He was sullenly awaiting disaster, and she with a word could avert it. She wondered that she had ever hesitated.
“All right,” she said simply.
FMllmore quivered from head to foot.
“You’ll do it?” he whispered, and held his breath After all, he might not have heard correctly
All the complex emotions in Fillmore’s soul found expression in one vast whoop. It rang through the empty theatre like the last trump, beating against the back wall and rising in hollow echoes to the very gallery Mr. Bunbury, conversing in low undertones with Mr Cracknell across the footlights, shied like a startled mule There was reproach and menace in the look he cast at Fillmore, and a minute earlier it would have reduced that financial magnate to apologetic pulp. But Fillmore was not to be intimidated now by a look. He strode down to the group at the footlights.
“Cracknell,” he said importantly, “one moment. I should like a word with you.”
F ACTORS and actresses are like children in that they are readily depressed by disaster, they have the child’s compensating gift of being easily uplifted by good fortune. It amazed Sally that any one mortal should have been able to spread such universal happiness as she had done by the simple act of lending her brother Fillmore twenty thousand dollars. If the millennium had arrived, the members of “The Primrose Way” company could not have been on better terms with themselves. The lethargy and dispiritedness caused by their week of inaction, fell from them like a cloak. The sudden elevation of that creature of the abyss, the assistant stage manager, to the dizzy height of proprietor of the show appealed to their sense of drama. Most of them had played in pieces where much the same thing had happened to the persecuted heroine round about eleven o clock, and the situation struck them as theatrically sound. Also, now that she had gone, the extent to which Miss Hobson had acted as a blight was universallv recognized.
Fillmore was himself again. As a manager he blossomed out into soft billowy curves, and when he stood on the sidewalk in front of the theatre, gloating over the new posters which bore the legend
the populace had to make a détour to get round him.
¥N THIS era of bubbling joy it was hard that Sally, the fairy godmother responsible for it all, should not have been completely happy too; and it puzzled her why she was not. It was not till she was out driving in a hired car with Gerald one afternoon on Belle Isle that enlightenment came.
Gerald was cheerful and talkative. He, at any rate, found nothing wrong with life. He held forth spaciously on the big things he intended to do.
“If this play gets over—and it’s going to—I’ll show ’em!” His jaw was squared, and his eyes glowed as they stared into the inviting future. "One success -that’s all I need — then watch me! I haven’t had a chance yet, but—”
His voice rolled on, but Sally had (eased to listen. It was the time of year when the chill of evening follows swiftly on the mellow warmth of afternoon. The sun had gone behind the trees, and a cold wind was blowing up from the river. And quite suddenly, as though it was the wind that had cleared her mind, she understood what it was that had been lurking at the back of her thoughts. FVir an instant it stood out nakedly without concealment, and the world became a forlorn place. She had realized the fundamental difference between man’s outlook on life and woman's.
Success! How men worshipped it and how little of themselves they had to spare for anything else. Ironically, it was
the theme of this very play of Gerald’s which she had saved from destruction. Of all the men she knew, how many had any view of life except as a race which they must strain every nerve to win, regardless of what they missed by the wayside in their haste? Fillmore—Gerald—all
of them.......There might be a woman in each of their
lives, but she came second—an afterthought—a thing for their spare time. Gerald was everything to her. His success would never be more than a side issue so far as she was concerned. He himself, without pny of the trappings of success, was enough for her. But she was not enough for him. A spasm of futile jealousy shook her. She shive-^
’'Cold?*' «aid Gerald. "I'll tell the man to drivé back... Î don't see any reason why this play shouldn't run a year in New York. Everybody says it's good... If it does get over, they’ll àll be after me. I—”
Sally stared out into a bleak world. The sky was a leaden gray, and the wind from the river blew with a dismal chill.
WHEN Sally left Detroit on the following Saturday, accompanied by Fillmore, who was returning to the metropolis for a few days in order to secure offices and generally make his presence felt along Broadway, her spirits had completely recovered. She felt guilty that she had been fanciful, even morbid. Naturally men wanted to get on in the world. It was their job.
She told herself that she was bound up with Gerald’s success, and that the last thing of which • she ought to complain was the energy he put into efforts of which she as well as he would reap the reward.
To this happier frame of mind the èxcitement of the last few days had contributed. Detroit, that city of amiable audiences, had liked “The Primrose Way.” The theatre, in fulfillment of Teddy’s prophecy, had been allowed to open on the Tuesday, and a full house, hungry for entertainment after its enforced abstinence, had welcomed the play whole-heartedly. The papers, not always in agreement with the applause of a first-night audience, had on this occasion endorsed the verdict, with agreeable unanimity hailing Gerald as the coming author and Elsa Doland as the coming star. There had even been a brief mention of Fillmore as the coming manager. But there is always some trifle that jars in our greatest moments, and Fillmore’s triumph had been almost spoiled by the fact that the only notice taken of Gladys Winch was by the critic who printed her name—spelled Wunch—in the list of those whom the cast “also included.”
“One of the greatest character actresses on the stage,” said Fillmore bitterly, talking over this outrage with Sally on the morning after the production.
FROM this blow, however, his buoyant nature had soon enabled him to rally. Life contained so much that was bright that it would have been churlish to concentrate the attention on the one dark spot. Business had been excellent all through the week. Elsa Doland had got better at every performance. The receipt of a long and agitated telegram from Mr. Cracknell pleading to be allowed to buy the piece back, the passage of time having apparently softened Miss Hobson, was a pleasant incident and, best of all, the great Ike Grossman, who owned half the theatres in New York and had been in Detroit superintending one of his musical productions, had looked in one evening and stamped “The Primrose Way” with the seal of his approval. As Fillmore sat opposite Sally on the train, he radiated contentment and importance.
“Yes, do,” said Sally, breaking a long silence.
illmore awoke from happy dreams. “Eh?”
“i said ‘Yes, do.’ I think you owe it to your position.” “Do what?”
“Buy a fur coat. Wasn’t that what you were meditating about?”
“Don’t be a chump,” said Fillmore, blushing nevertheless. It was true that once or twice during the past week he had toyed negligently, as Mr. Bunbury would have said, with the notion. And why not? A fellow must keep warm.
“With an astrakhan collar,” insisted Sally.
“As a matter of fact,” said Fillmore loftily, his great soul ill attuned to this badinage, “what I was really thinking about at that moment was something Ike said.” “Ike?”
“Ike Grossman, the producer. He’s on the train. I met him just now.”
“We call him Ike!”
“Of course I call him Ike,” said Fillmore heatedly. “Everyone calls him Ike.”
“He wears a fur coat,” Sally murmured.
Fillmore registered annoyance. “I wish you wouldn’t keep harping on that damned coat. And, anyway, why
shouldn’t I have a fur coat?”
“Fill! How can you be so brutal as to suggest that I ever said you shouldn’t? Why, I’m one of the strongest supporters of the fur coat. With big cuffs. And you . must roll up Fifth Avenue in your car, and I’ll point and * say: ‘That’s my brother!'
‘He is really.’. . .‘You’re joking. Why that’s the great Fillmore Nicholas.’ . ... T know. But he really is my brother. And I was wifh hjm when he bought that coat.’ ” “Do leavg pff about the coat!’!
“ ‘And it isn’t only the coat,’ I shall say. ‘It’s what’s underneath. Tucked away inside that mass of fur, dodging about behind that dollar cigar, is one to whom we point with pride.. . .’ ”
•'CTLLMORE looked coldly at his watch. “I’ve got to •T go and see Ike Grossman.”
“We are in hourly consultation with Ike.”
“He wants to see me about the show. -He suggests putting it into Chicago before opening in New York.” “Oh, no!” "cried Sally, dismayed.
Sally recovered herself. Identifying Gerald so closely with his play, she had supposed for a moment that if the piece opened in Chicago it would mean a further prolonged separation from him. But of course there would be no need, she realized, for him to stay with the company after the first day or two.
“You’re thinking that we ought to have a New York reputation before tackling Chicago. There’s a lot to be said for that. Still it works both ways. A Chicago run would help us in New York. Well, I’ll have to think it over,” said Fillmore importantly. “I’ll have to think it over.”
He mused with drawn brows. ,
“All wrong,” said Sally.
“Not a bit like it. The lips should be compressed and the forefinger of the right hand laid in a careworn way against the right temple. You’ve a lot to learn, Fill.” “Oh, stop it!”
“Fillmore Nicholas,” said Sally, “if you knew what pain it gives me to josh my only brother you’d be sorry for me. But you know it’s for your good. . . .Now run along and put Ike out of his misery. I know he’s waiting for you with his watch out. ‘You do think he’ll come, Miss Nicholas?’ were his last words to me as he stepped on the train—and, oh, Fill, the yearning in his voice! ‘Why, of course he will, Mr. Grossman,’ I said. ‘For all his exalted position, my brother is kindliness itself.
Of course he’ll come.’____Tf I could only think so!’ he
said with a gulp. Tf I could only think so! But you know what these managers are. A thousand calls on their time. They get brooding on their fur coats and forget everything else.’.. . .‘Have no fear, Mr. Grossman,’
I said. ‘Fillmore Nicholas is a man of his word.’ ”
She would have been willing, for she was a girl who never believed in sparing herself where it was a question of entertaining her nearest and dearest, to continue the dialogue, but Fillmore was already moving down the car, his rigid
back a silent protest against sisterly levity. Sally watched him disappear, then picked up a magazine and began to read.
She had just finished tracking a story of gripping interest through a jungleof advertisements, only to find that it
* 0-rj7v,brother? No! was in two parts, of which the one she was readingwasthe
first, when a voice spoke. “How do you do, Miss Nicholas?”
Into thé seat before her, recently released from the weight of the coming manager, Bruce Carmyle, of all people in the world, insinuated himself with that well-bred air of deferential restraint which never i left him.
O ALLY was considerably startled.
^ “Mr. Carmyle!” she cried.
If Sally had been constantly in Mr. Carmyle’s thoughts since they had parted on the Paris express, Mr. Carmyle had been very little in Sally’s—so little, indeed, that she had had to search her memory for a monent before she identified him.
“We’re always meeting on trains, aren’t we?” she went on, her composure returning. “I never expected to see you in America.”
“I came over.”
She was never rude to anyone without subsequent remorse. She contented herself with a tame “Yes?”
“Yes,” said Mr. Carmyle, “it is a good1 many years since I have taken a real holiday. My doctor seemed to think I was a trifle rundown. It seemed a good opportunity to visit. America.”
“And what are your impressions of our glorious country?” said Sally, rallying.
“I have been visiting Chicago,” he said,, after a brief travelogue.
“A wonderful city.”
“I’ve never seen it. I’ve come from Detroit.” “Yes, I heard you were in Detroit.”
Sally’s eyes opened. “You heard I was in Detroit? Good gracious! How?”
“I—ah—called at your New York address and made inquiries,” said Mr. Carmyle alittle awkwardly.
“But how did you know where I lived?”
"My cousin—er—Lancelot told me.”
Sally was silent for a moment. She had much the same feeling that comes to the man in the detective story who realizes that he is being shadowed. She seized on the mention of Ginger as a lever for diverting the conversation from its present too intimate course. “How is Mr.. Kemp?” she asked.
Mr. Carmyle’s dark face seemed to become a trifle darker. “We have had no news of him,” he said shortly.
“No news? How do you mean? You speak as though he had disappeared.”
“He has disappeared!”
“Good heavens! When?”
“Shortly after I saw you last.”
Mr. Carmyle frowned. Sally, watching him, found her antipathy stirring again. There was something about, this man which she had disliked instinctively from thefirst, a sort of hardness.
“But where has he gone to?”
“I don’t know.” Mr. Carmyle frowned again. The subject of Ginger was plainly a sore one. “And I don’t want to know,” he went on heatedly, a dull flush rising in the cheeks which Sally was sure he had to shave twice a day. “I don’t care to know. The family have washed their hands of him. For the future he may look after himself as best he can. I believe he is off his head.”
0 ALLY’S rebellious temper was well ablaze now, but ^ she fought it down.
“But what happened? What was all the trouble
Mr. Carmyle’s eyebrows met. “He—insulted his uncle. His uncle Donald. He insulted him—grossly. The one man in the world he should have made a point of—er—of
“Keepipg in with?”
“Yes. His future depended on him.”
“But what did he do?” cried Sally, trying hard tat keep a thoroughly reprehensible joy out of her voice.
“I have heard no details. My uncle is reticent as to> what actually took place. He invited Lancelot to dinner to discuss his plans, and it appears that Lancelot—defied him. Defied him! He was rude and insulting. My uncle refuses to have anything more to do with him. Apparently the young fool managed to win some money at the tables at Roville and this seems to have turned his head completely. My uncle insists that he is mad.
1 agree wdth him. Since the night of that dinner nothing has been heard of Lancelot.”
Mr. Carmyle broke off to brood once more, and before Sally could speak the impressive bulk of Fillmore loomed
up in the aisle beside them. Explanations seemed to Fillmore to be in order. He cast a questioning glance at the mysterious stranger, who, in addition to being in conversation with his sister, had collared his seat.
“Oh, hullo, Fill,” said Sally. “Fillmore, this is Mr. Carmyle. We met abroad. My brother Fillmore, Mr. Carmyle.”
Proper introductions having been thus effected, Fillmore approved of Mr. Carmyle. His air of being someone in particular appealed to him.
“Strange, your meeting again like this,” he said affably.
The porter, who had been making up berths along the car, was now hovering expectantly in the offing.
“You two had better go into the smoking room,” suggested Sally. “I’m going to bed.”
She wanted to be alone, to think. Mr. Carmyle’s tale of a roused and revolting Ginger had stirred her.
The two men went off to the smoking car, and Sally found an empty seat and sat down to wait for her berth to be made up. She was aglow with a curious exhilaration. So Ginger had taken her advice! Excellent, Ginger! She felt proud of him. She also had that feeling of complacency, amounting almost to sinful pride, which comes to those who give advice and find it acted upon.
It was a feat, there was no denying it. Yet Sally, jolted by the train, which toward the small hours seemed to be trying out some new buck-and-wing steps of its own invention, slept ill, and presently, as she lay awake, there came to her bedside the Spectre of Doubt, gaunt and questioning. Had she, after all, wrought so well? Had she been wise in tampering with this young man’s life?
“What about it?” said the Spectre of Doubt.
DAYLIGHT brought no comforting answer to the question about Ginger Kemp. Breakfast failed to manufacture an easy mind. Sally got off the train at the Grand. Central Terminal in a state of remorseful concern.
She wondered now how she could ever have looked with approval on her rash act. She wondered what demon of interference and meddling had possessed her, to make her blunder into people’s lives, upsetting them. Here was an estimable young man, obviously the sort of young man who would always have to be assisted through life by his relatives and she had deliberately egged him on to wreck his prospects. She blushed hotly as she remembered that mad wireless she had sent him from the boat.
Miserable Ginger! She pictured him, his little stock of money gone, wandering footsore about London, seeking in vain for work; forcing himself to call on Uncle Donald; being thrown down front steps by haughty footmen; sleeping on the Embankment; gazing into the dark waters of the Thames with the stare of hopelessness; climbing onto the parapet and.
“Ugh!” said Sally.
She had arrived at the door of the boarding house, and Mrs. Meecher was regarding her with welcoming eyes, little knowing that to all practical intents and purposes she had slain in his prime a red-headed young man of amiable manners and—when not ill-advised by meddling, muddling females—of excellent behavior.
Mrs. Meecher was friendly and garrulous. “Variety,” the journal which, next to the dog Toto, was the thing she loved best in the world, had informed her on the Friday morning that Mr.
Foster’s play had got over big in Detroit and that Miss Doland had made every kind of a hit.
AND was it true that Mr. Fillmore had bought the piece? A great man, was Mrs. Meecher’s verdict. Mr. Faucitt had always said so.
“Oh, how is Mr. Faucitt?” Sally said, reproaching herself for having allowed the pressure of other matters to drive all thoughts of her late patient from her mind.
“He’s gone,” said Mrs. Meecher with such relish that to Sally in her morbid condition the words had only one meaning. She turned white and clutched at the banisters. “Gone!”
“To England,” added Mrs. Meecher. Sally was vastly relieved.
“Oh, I thought you meant—”
“Oh, no, not that.” Mrs. Meecher sighed for she had been a little disappointed in the old gentleman, who had started out as such a promising invalid, only to fall away into the dullness of robust health once more. “He’s well enough. I never seen anybody better. You’d think,” said Mrs. Meecher, bearing up with difficulty under her grievance— “you’d think this here new Spanish influenza was a sort of a tonic or somep’n, the way he looks now. Of course,” she added, trying to find justification for a respected lodger, “he’s had good news. His brother’s dead.” "What!”
“Not, I don’t mean, that that was good news.
far from it, though, come to think of it, all flesh is as grass and we all got to be prepared for somep’n of the sort breaking loose.... but it seems this here new brother of his—
I didn’t know he’d a brother, and I don’t suppose you knew he had a brother; men are secretive, ain’t they?— this brother of his has left him a parcel of money, and Mr. Faucitt he had to get on the Wednesday boat quick as he could and go right over to the other side to look after things. Wind up the estate, I believe they call it. Left in a awful hurry, he did. Sent his love to you and said he’d write. Funny him having a brother now, wasn’t it? Not,” said Mrs. Meecher, at heart a reasonable woman, ' “that folks don't have brothers. I got two myself, one in Portland, Ore., and the other goodness knows where he is. But what I’m trying to say—”
SALLY disengaged herself, and went up to her rooms.
For a brief while the excitement which comes of hearing good news about those of whom we are fond acted as a stimulant, and she felt almost cheerful.
Presently, however, she found her thoughts wandering back into their melancholy groove. She threw herself wearily on the bed. She was tired after her bad night.
But she could not sleep. Remorse kept her wakeful. Besides, she could hear Mrs. Meecher prowling disturbingly about the house, apparently in search of someone, her progress indicated by creaking boards and the strenuous yapping of Toto.
Sally turned restlessly and, having turned, remained for a long instant transfixed and rigid. She had seen something, and what she had seen was enough to surprise any girl in the privacy of her bedroom. From underneath the bed there peeped coyly forth an undeniably masculine shoe and six inches of a gray trouser leg.
Sally bounded to the floor. She was a girl of courage, and she meant to probe this matter thoroughly.
“What are you doing under my bed?”
The question was a reasonable one, and evidently seemed to the intruder to deserve an answer. There was a muffled sneeze, and he began to crawl out.
The shoe came first. Then the legs. Then a sturdy body in a dusty coat. And finally there flashed on Sally’s fascinated gaze a head of so nearly the maximum redness that it could only belong to one person in the world. “Ginger!”
Mr. Lancelot Kemp, on all fours, blinked up at her. “Oh, hullo!” he said.
IT WAS not till she saw him actually standing there before her with his hair rumpled and a large smut on the tip of his nose that Sally really understood how profoundly troubled she had been about this young man and how vivid had been that vision of him bobbing about on the waters of the Thames, a cold and unappreciated corpse. Never before in her life had she experienced such an overwhelming rush of exhilaration. She flung herself into a chair and burst into a screech of laughter which even to her own ears sounded strange. It struck Ginger as hysterical.
“I say, you know,” said Ginger as the merriment show-
ed no signs of abating. “Oh, I say you know!” Sally sat up, gurgling, and wiped her eyes.
“Oh, I am glad to see you!” she gasped.
“No, really?” said Ginger, gratified. “That’s fine!” It occurred to him that some sort of apology would be a graceful act. “I say, you know, awfully sorry. About barging in here, I mean. Never dreamed it was your room. Unoccupied, I thought.”
“Don’t mention it. I ought not to have disturbed you. You were having a nice sleep, of course. Do you always sleep on the floor?”
“It was like this—”
“What were you doing under my bed?”
“Oh, under your bed?”
“Yes. Under my bed. This. It’s a bed, you know. Mine. My bed. You were under it. Why? Or, putting it another way, why were you under my bed?”
“I was hiding.”
“Playing hide-and-seek? That explains it.”
“Mrs. What’s-her-name—Beecher—Meecher was after me.”
OALLY shook her head disapprovingly. “You mustn't ^ encourage Mrs. Meecher in these childish pastimes It unsettles her.”
Ginger passed an agitated hand over his forehead. “It’s like this—”
“I hate to keep criticizing your appearance,” said Sally, “and personally I like it; but, when you clutched your brow just then, you put about a pound of dust on it. Your hands are probably grubby.”
Ginger inspected them. “They are!”
“Why not make a really good job of it and have a wash?” “Thanks awfully.”
“The towel is on your right.”
“And I’ve a clothes brush in my bag.”
Splashing followed, like a sea-lion taking a dip.
“Now then,” said Sally, “why were you hiding from Mrs. Meecher?”
A careworn, almost hunted look came into Ginger’s face. “I say, you know, that woman is rather by way of being one of the lads, what! I mean to say, she’s got a nasty way with her. Scares me! Word was brought to me that she was on the prowl so it seemed to me a judicious move to take cover till she sort of blew over. If she’d found me. she’d have made me take that dog of hers for a walk.”
“Toto. You know,” said Ginger, with a strong sense of injury, “no dog’s got a right to be a dog like that. 1 don’t suppose there’s anyone keener on dogs than I am. but a thing like a woolly rat!” He shuddered slightly. “Well, one hates to be seen about with it in the public streets.”
“Why couldn’t you have refused in a firm but gentlemanly manner to take Toto out?”
“Ah! There you rather touch the spot. You see the fact of the matter is, I’m a bit behind with the rent, and that makes it rather hard to take what you might call a firm stand,”
“But how can you be behind with the rent? I only left here the Saturday before last and you weren’t in the place then. You can’t have been here more than a week?”
“I’ve been here just a week. That’s the week I’m behind with.”
“But why? You were a millionaire when I left you at Roville.”
“Well, the fact of the matter is, 1 went back to the tables that night and lost a goodish bit of what I ’d won. And, somehow or another, when I got to America, the stuff seemed to slip away.”
“What made you come to America at all?” said Sally, asking-the question, which, she felt, any sensible person would have asked at the opening of the conversation.
One of his familiar blushes raced over Ginger’s face. “Oh, I thought 1 would. Land of Opportunity, you know.”
“Have you managed to find ally of the opportunities yet?”
“Well, 1 have got a job of sorts. I'm a waiter at a rummy little place on Second Aven due. The salary isn't big, but I’d have wang led enough out of it to pay last week’s rer only they docked me a goodish bit for breakin ) plates and what not. The fact is, I'm making rather a hash of it.”
“Oh, Ginger! You oughtn’t to be a waiter!” "That’s what the boss seems to think.”
“I mean, you ought to be doing something ever so much better than that.”
"But what? You’ve no notion how well all these blighters here seem to be able to get along without my help. I’ve tramped all over the place, offering my services, but they all say
Conlinued on page 45
Continued from page 25
they’ll try to carry on as they are.” Sally reflected. “I know.”
“I’ll make Fillmore give you a job. I wonder I didn’t think of it before.” “Fillmore?*’
“My brother. Yes, he’ll be able to use you.”
Sally considered. “As a—as a—oh as his right-hand man.”
“Does he want a right-hand man?” “Sure to. He’s a young fellow trying to get along. Sure to want a right-hand-
“ ’M, yes,” said Ginger reflectively. “Oh course, Fve never been a righthand man, you know.”
“Oh, you’d pick it up. I’ll take you ■round to him now. He’s staying at the
“There’s just one thing,” said Ginger. “What’s that?”
“I might make a hash of it.” “Heavens, Ginger! There must be something in this world that you wouldn’t make a hash of. Don’t stand arguing any longer. Are you dry? And clean? Very well, then. Let’s be off.”
To be Continued