THE library in Reeve Coolidge’s house was a separate room with a flight of steps on either side, one leading down to the short corridor that connected with the main building, the other descending to a courtyard from which there was easy access to the side road.
Being removed from the sounds of the house, it gave him back the sense of solitude to which he had grown accustomed in his digger day's, and sometimes missed in the busy times his riches had imposed on him. “It makes a sort of drawbridge for me—that staircase!” he said once; "I fee! when I’ve passed it I have gone into myself and shut the world out, and that’s good sometimes.”
On this particular evening the world had been disporting itself all over the beautiful house and had overflowed into the library where the chief point of attraction was an amber diamond, set roughly in a lump of platinum which Coolidge called his “lucky stone.”
Held in a steel claw, springing from a black marble tablet, the stone was enclosed in a thick glass case; the glass joining the marble, both surmounted by a wide steel rim. The tablet was supported by a tripod of oarved iron.
It stood close to a deep-seated armchair in which Coolidge was wont to take his ease when the thinking fit was on him.
The ball had been a great success and was drawing to a close just as one o’clock struck. Already the line of cars outside had dwindled and the last guests were grouped in the hail taking their departure.
In the library four men, who had withdrawn one by one quietly from the throng, were standing round a table on which a tray of spirits and siphons, flanked by materials for smoking, showed that the host intended to continue his hospitality to a few intimates. On the other side of the room were a card-table and four chairs. Coolidge could hold his own at cards or poker with any bluffer, and cards amused him more than billiards, though he had a straight eye and a skilful knack in most games and sports.
The four men were all acquaintances of recent standing, hawing during the last two months gradually established themselves as partners of Coolidge’s relaxations, and companions in his leisure evenings.
Yet none of them would have struck a casual observer as possessing surface qualifications for the position of true friend to a man like Reeve Coolidge, who, although he had earned his riches by the sweat of his brow, had an inherent distinction that made him one of Nature’s picked specimens.
His personality, strong, reserved, fine always in its demonstration, seemed to demand something more in his intimate associates than anything these four types could afford him.
Captain Venner, lean, brown, hawk-like, with a build that hinted at a southern origin, over well-dressed in an indefinable way, carried an atmosphere of raciness and sharp practice unhampered by scruples. His air of polish was rather excessive; less gentlemanliness would have made him more of a gentleman.
And the man facing him, short, wiry-set, light-eyed and reddish-haired, might have fitted better into any
other groove than this particular one of cultured ease, which was implied in association with Coolidge. Abdy Larch described himself as a sportsman, speaking of amateur championships and contests of skill in an offhand familiar way, which gave people the impression that his opinion on such matters was that of an expert. Yet if “Society” had asked itself what precise school of sport he had graduated in, it would have been at a loss to answer.
OF THE two others, one was an ordinary-looking Irishman who had danced and dined everywhere for several weeks and had never been asked for any credentials; while the last of the quartette was a frank-faced lad of well-bred appearance, Clive Mantine by name, but known to everybody as “The Cinch.” The Mantines had held a good position at one time in the neighborhood, but drifted away gradually to unknown parts, and the reappearance of one bearing the name had ensured a warm welcome.
Clive possessed an incisive method of talking and acting, and a ready grip of things in general, that justified his nickname, so that many of his friends never thought of him as anything but “Cinch.”
“Look here, you fellows,” said Venner, tapping his glass of whisky and soda significantly, “not too much of this.”
“Why not?” asked Larch. “The job’s an easy one.” Ruscoe Joliffe, the blameless-looking individual, helped himself to a green Chartreuse, murmuring: “Soft as butter—when you’ve sat on it!”
The Cinch gave a short contemptuous laugh. “We could do it in our sleep,” he said. “I didn’t know Coolidge was such a mug! Takes the pep right out of it.”
“There’s always the off-chance to allow for,” remarked Venner. “Ever heard of Halley’s comet?”
The Cinch lit a cigarette. “This your star turn, Captain?” he drawled, with a bored accent.
“Comes round o.nce in seventy-seven years,” continued Venner, unmoved, “but it comes.”
“Queer,” commented the lad, “what a homing instinct some of these beggars have!”
The others burst into laughter, until Venner lifted his hand in a swift demand for silence. “Not Coolidge,” he said, “a lighter step!” The words had scarcely left his lips when the door opened, and a girl in a fur-edged cloak with a chiffon “fascinator” swathed round her head, framing a spiritual face, stepped in and halted, looking round the room.
“Mr. Coolidge not here?” she enquired. The rose flush in her cheeks deepened, but her eyes were serene and steady.
“Not for the moment,” answered Venner, “he is speeding his parting guests, I believe, Miss Maylie. Can we find him for you?”
“Please,” she said. “I didn’t see him in the hall to say good-bye.” Venner went to the door and she stepped aside to let him pass. /
“Can I escort you to him?” he said, offering his arm. “Thank you, no. I’ll wait here for him.”
He had no choice but to go on her quest, and Ruscoe
Joliffe quietly followed him, remarking sotto voce that he was rather good at finding haystacks himself.
“A ripping dance, Miss Maylie,” observed the Cinch. Her expression changed a little; it was less cold and indifferent as she looked at him. “Ripping,” she assented.
“ƒ shall always remember it as the best I’ve been to,” he continued.
She smiled. The smile transformed the proud and almost severe gravity of her mouth and rendered it absolutely sweet. “Is that a subtle compliment?” she asked; “you ought to have been a diplomatist, Cinch.”
T?OR, in the particular circle to which she be" longed, this attractive boy, having been admitted nobody knew exactly when or how, was made much of. “I believe I’ve missed my vocation altogether,” he answered. “Larch here maintains that I ought to have been a light-weight pro., because I gave him one with the dirty left in a scrap the other day.”
The smile faded from Pearl Maylie’s lips. Larch had been concealed from her where she stood by the angle of a screen bookstand, and the revelation of his proximity was evidently not acceptable to her.
“I must not keep Auntie’s car hanging about any longer,” she said. “Tell Mr. Coolidge I couldn’t wait for him.” She turned to go and confronted Reeve Coolidge as he hurried in.
“I’m out of luck,” he said, “to have kept you waiting, but forgive me, Miss Maylie. I’ve been watching out for you in the hall.”
“So we’ve been at cross purposes,” she responded gaily. “Well, I only wanted to tell you that I’ve dropped a bangle somewhere this evening, so that you might know it’s mine if it turns up.”
“My luck is in then after all,” he rejoined. “We’ll have a hunt for it now; what was it like?”
“A bar of pearls on a silver chain,” she said. “I wonder if it fell when I was on the balcony. Will you just have a look, Cinch?”
“Of course.” The boy moved to the door; but, unnoticed, contrived to bestow a meaning look, as he went out, on Larch, who turned to the cigarette box and carefully selected a smoke.
PEARL glancing in his direction, and seeing that his back was towards them, said to Coolidge: “I came in here once, Mr. Coolidge, and sat over there for a time; could I have dropped it then?”
“We will soon see.” He strode across the room and felt along the edge of the couch. She followed him, and glancing again at Larch, spelt out rapidly on her fingers in dumb language: “Get rid of him.” Coolidge’s astonishment did not betray itself; he was too self-controlled for that.
“Not here,” he said, “but that reminds me I did see something shining under the supper table. Do you mind casting an eye there, Larch.” It was a direction rather than a request, and Larch could not disregard it.
“With pleasure,” he replied, and began to cross the room, stopping suddenly to say: “But stop a moment, what’s that under the edge of the carpet there?” He went down on his knees to examine the corner he had indicated, and Pearl looked appealingly at Coolidge.
“No, that’s not it, my dear fellow,” Coolidge said, “we must organize a regular search party. You take the supper-room, and if the Cinch has been unsuccessful, ask him to explore the hall while Venner and Joliffe can search the ball-room. Miss Maylie and I will do this room and the stairs.” Reluctantly Larch rose and sauntered to the door. The moment he had passed through. Coolidge shut it after him, and walked up to Pearl.
“What is it?” he said quietly: “speak right out.” She was standing close to the tripod, and laid one hand on it now, observing with apparent irrelevance; “This is of great value, isn’t it, Mr. Coolidge? Why do you keep it here?”
He made no protest against this change of subject. “The day I found my amber diamond,” he answered, “my run of bad luck ended. I had been broke. Since then everything has gone right.”
“Supposing it was stolen?”
“I should be sorry,” he admitted.
“It seems like tempting Providence,” she continued. “I have a good mind to pick it up and run away with it myself.”
She put both slender hands round the glass case and found she could not lift it.
“Fastened to the floor!” she commented.
“Of course. If you don’t tether your luck it will run away.” Suddenly her manner changed. She pointed towards the door.
“I think he has gone,” she said hurriedly; “he was listening until now. Mr. Coolidge, don’t trust Captain Venner or Mr. Larch. Why are you such friends with these men?”
Coolidge lifted his eyebrows. “Hard to say exactly. Venner has done me one or two good turns in the social line. He introduced me to you, for instance.”
Pearl took a step nearer to him and her voice sank to a breathless whisper. “My intuition tells me he is a rotter,” she said.
“Then he’s to be pitied anyhow,” said Coolidge. “Do you know, Miss Maylie, if I were a man you hated Iemdash;”
She interrupted him swiftly, “But you’re notemdash;at least emdash;I meanemdash;”
“TOU don’t mean that you hate me?” There was a 1 curious vibration in his voice; it was seldom that his equable tone changed.
“I’m not sure,” she replied, “you are dreadfully rich.” “That’s a fault easily remedied these, days,” he said. “How much must a man get rid of before you like him?-” There was a pause before Pearl looked up. Then meeting Coolidge’s intent gaze she asked softly: “Doesn’t it spoil a man to have so much? Doesn’t he lose his pluck?” “I think not. He may not have so many ways of showing it perhaps, but it ought to be thereemdash;exceptemdash;well there’s one occasion when he knows what funk is.”
Pearl looked at him gravely. “I adore courage in a man,” she said.
“And I’m feeling a coward at this very moment,” he confessed.
lt; “I believe you will need all yours to-night,” she continued, “be warned; trust neither of these men. I am not talking at random now.”
He put one hand on her arm. “Tell me straight away,” he said insistently.
“I overheard them talking. I was on the balcony. The Cinch had gone to get me an ice and they were just inside a window. Captain Venner said ‘To-night’ and Mr. Larch answered ‘When?’
Captain Venner said ‘As soon as this rotten show is over,’ and Mr.
Larch asked: ‘Do the others know?’ Nothing more was said; I think they heard the Cinch coming back.”
“And what do you jmake of that?”
“I’m certain, quite certain, they mean you some harm. Is the Cinch staying on to play cards with you?”
HE HAS been different ever since Captain Venner came upon j;he scene. I wishemdash;”
“You wish?” repeated Coolidge interrogatively pnd ft sudden quickening jook sprang to his eyes.
"There is good in him,” she said, “arid they will ruin his life. Won’t you save him from them?”
“For whose sake? His own, or another’s?”
She did not answer for ft mon^ept; then she said quietly,, "Another’s. I piust go, Mr. Coolidge; gveryone will have left by this time. I ought not to have $tayed on, only I felt so worried.”
He bent over her and touched one of the bangles at her wrist. “Was it like thisemdash;the one you lost?” he asked.
She blushed a vivid crimson. “Yes.”
“ You have a pair then?”
Again she paused. Then she lifted reproachful eyes to his. “I must have taken off the wrong one,” she said, “but you have found -me out, Mr. Coolidge. I did not really lose a bangle; it was my excuse to enable me to give you warning.”
There were steps and voices approaching. Reeve Coolidge went to the door and opened it. “Well, I’m glad
it’s found,” he said to her in a louder tone, adding to the four men who were ascending the stairs together. “Just discovered the missing bracelet. It was in here after all.”
They each gave expression to some civil congratulations. Pearl Maylie thanked them; and with an inclusive goodnight passed down the steps and along the corridor to the house, followed by Coolidge.
The four men walked silently across the room to the card-table.
“What does it mean?” asked Joliffe.
“It’s a case, of course,” answered Venner, “but that doesn’t matter to usemdash;after to-night. I thought at first she had twigged something, but I fancy it was only a girl’s usual strategy to get a tete-a-tete. What do you say, Larch?”
“I say we have dilly-dallied too long,” Larch answered roughly. “I’m sick of the game; let us get it over while the servants are busy clearing up.”
“Right,” assented Venner. “Take your places. Euchre is the word.”
The Cinch strolled across to the table and was toying with a glass when Coolidge re-entered.
“Come along,” said Coolidge; “we’ll have our game now. What’s it to be to-night, boys?”
He advanced to the card-table and took the chair with its back to the door, and the Cinch, who had lightly and swiftly followed him, was standing immediately behind him as he spoke. Venner faced him and the other two flanked him on either side. “I vote,” said Venner, “for Euchre.”
Instantly his own hand shot up from his right pocket and held a revolver pointed full at Coolidge’s face, while Larch and Joliffe, leaning forward, covered him with theirs. Simultaneously the Cinch dropped a noose of silk cord over Coolidge’s head and shoulders, and drawing it tight with a deft snap round his arms, held him bound and helpless.
“Call out and you’re a dead man,” said Venner harshly.
COOLIDGE was silent, a slight lift of his close-set lips at the corners hinting at a smile.
“Make him safe, Cinch,” was Venner’s next order and a gag was placed with the same workmanlike smartness across Coolidge’s mouth.
“Now, then, keep covering him, Joliffe. Larch, you’ll get the stone. Waitemdash;’ware tricks. You are sure you know how the spring works?”
“Sure,” said Larch; “tried it to-night.”
“Get it then and go; we’ll follow as soonas you whistle.” Coolidge’s eyes went to the door opening on to the
courtyard staircase. He knew exactly what they meant to do. Larch would cross the courtyard to a car waiting outside. After reconnoitring, he would whistle. The others would join him and the whole gang wTould disappear with at least seven hours’ start before Coolidge’s valet, Harkness, could miss him, discover that he was not in his bedroom, and start to search for him. That was the planemdash;simple and effective.
“Now then,” snapped Venner. Larch stooped down and pressed one of the small knobs in the tripod, then lifted the glass covering out of its iron rim. There lay the stone in its platinum bed, held fast in the steel claws’ grip.
Larch drew a pair of pincers from his pocket and began
to ease the grip, laying his left hand on the claw. As he did so, a curious sharp cry, strangled in its birth, escaped him. He staggered, his knees giving way beneath him, and sank limply to the floor, inert.
'T'HE Cinch was at the fallen man’s side in a moment, and essayed to lift him; but with the same scream of pain that broke off as he uttered it, swung round, and then dropped in a heap.
Venner’s fingeis pressed the trigger of his revolver and a look of evil fury flashed into his eyes.
“By God!” he said to Coolidge, “you shall pay for this deviltry.”
‘Get the poor chaps free first,” said Joliffe quietly.
“Take his gag off,” Venner directed. “I’ll guarantee silence.”
He leant further over the table, his weapon level with Coolidge’s mouth.
Joliffe untwitched the slip knot of the rope.
“Now then, you," snarled Venner, “speak upemdash;and if they are dead you follow them.’”
“And you lose the stone,” answered Coolidge with difficulty, his lips stiff and swollen.
The rage of a trapped beast shone in Venner’s eyes, as he snarled: “Stop that! Tell me how to turn the current off.”
“They are not dead,” replied Coolidge, “but the current can only be turned off from my man’s room.”
“Then that settles it,” was Venner’s answer. “You are hoist by your own petard. They must ripemdash;and you’ll answer for it with a bullet in your head.”
“Three deaths,” commented Coolidge, his tongue working a little more smoothly; “hardly worth it.”
“You can’t do that,” Joliffe observed. “We’ve got to stick to our pals. Besides we should be tracked. Look here, Coolidge, you’re in as tight a corner as we are. Suggest something.”
“Harkness will come to the door if you ring the bell. I
will tell him to go to his room and turn the current off_
on one condition. That you carry Larch away and leave the Cinch here with me. You can cover me until you reach the door.”
“What do you mean to do?”
“To save him from you, and from the consequences of his association with you.”
“Why?” Venner’s question came short and slwp; whilst his eyes gleamed with a madness of passionate hate and rage.
“Because I am interested in him. I shall not give you away since to do so would be to involve him. He will be
your safety guarantee.” “We must agree, Venner,” said Joliffe. “You have made a mess of this and the sooner we get off, and the poor fellows are released the better.” “I’ll be even with you some time,” said Venner steadily to Coolidge. “God!emdash;to foil us, after all these weeks of wasted time and trouble and money. Get up and walk nearer to the door. Ring, Joliffe.”
Joliffe obeyed. Far off they could hear the buzzing of the bell. Steps approached and there came a quiet knock at thedoor.
“That you, Harkness?” Coolidge sang out.
“Go to your room and turn the battery off. We’ve been playing tricks with it here. I shan’t want you again at present.”
“Very good, sir.”
The steps died away. The men's eyes all turned to the two huddled figures, Larch still fixed by his left hand to the stone, the Cinch fastened to him by his own encircling arms. A dead silence reigned in the room for two tense minutes, broken at last by the sound of Larch’s handemdash;released, striking the tripod as it fell.
“Get him a-way quickly,” said Coolidge, "and let a doctor attend to him as soon as possible. The shock is not a slight one.”
JOLIFFE picked up Larch; and half carried, half dragged him, to the door of the courtyard steps. “I can't manage him down the steps alone, Venner,” he protested.
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“You must,” Venner answered: “I’m taking no risks with this eursed trickster. I’ll cover him till you’re in the car. Then you can come back and gag Coolidge.” “Stop where you are, all of you,” commanded Coolidge. “Listen to me, Venner, and keep your temper if you want to keep your liberty. There’s a patrol just below in the courtyard. I could have given Harkness the code word and had you all caught straight away, but I wanted to see this thing through for myself.”
“It’s not through yet,” said Venner; “what if I pull?”
“Shoot if you like,” Coolidge answered with contemptuous calm. “I’m no good to you dead. But I’ll let you go scot free —this time, if you sign a paper promising not to molest that lad in the future. As soon as you’ve done that I’ll signal the men below off and call it quits.”
“For God’s sake, Venner, do what he says,” exclaimed Joliffe. “Let’s cut our loss and get away.”
But Venner’s obstinacy deepened. “How do we know it’s not a fresh trick?” Coolidge smiled. “You’ve got to trust me—or kill me. I’m not going to call the patrol off until you sign that contract. There’s paper and pen on that table.”
VENNER moved reluctantly to the writing table indicated and, still covering Coolidge, sat down at it, finally laying his revolver down and taking up the pen, to write at Coolidge’s dictation: “This is to say that neither I nor any of my gang has any claim on the man known as Clive Mantine or the Cinch, and that he is not associated with us in any way.”
“Sign it,” continued Coolidge, now hold it up so that I can read it;” and having scanned it quickly he added: “Put it in an envelope and address it to him.” .
Venner’s temper flared again and he caught up the revolver. “Damn you! I’m not taking any more orders!”
“You’d better obey,” Coolidge assured him, unmoved, “it’s your only chance.” Again his self-control conquered, and Venner yielded. While he was addressing the envelope, Coolidge went on in the
same level tone: “You thought it was
all plain sailing with a man like me, didn’t you? But I knew you—every one of you, from the first, for what you are. I made it easy for you to know me—to get intimate with me—to concoct your fool plan. You’ll find a knife in the righthand drawer. Bring it here.”
Venner sulkily found the knife and carried it across the room.
“Cut the rope,” Coolidge directed, “I can’t signal the patrol off till my hands are free.”
“Damned if I will,” was the violent answer, “you tell me the signal and I’ll give it.”
Coolidge shook his head decisively. “Shoot if you prefer it.”
Joliffe on tenterhooks at the window burst out with subdued vehemence again. “You fool, Venner. Get on with it. Don’t you know when you’re beaten?” The rope, as Venner slashed at it, flew asunder showing how tight the strain on it had been, and Coolidge, working his arms, and rubbing his wrists, to get the life back into them, walked to the card table, sat down in the chair he had occupied before, and twisted one of the cigar rests sunk in its four corners. Immediately a bell rang outside on the balcony.
Venner, who had followed him, stooped closer and held the revolver within two inches of his head. Coolidge lifted up the round ash-tray set into the table close to the cigar rest, and as he brought it close to his lips Venner saw that a fine cord connected it with the table. It was an ingenious miniature telephone.
“That you, Patrol,” said Coolidge speaking to the centre of the little tray. “Coolidge speaking. Withdraw your men from the courtyard. Some friends of mine are leaving and one of them is slightly—overcome! You understand? Give them time to get into their car and drive away. I’ll ring you on the other ’phone when I want you back. Password : ‘Jockey’d’.” He smiled as he looked at Venner’s menacing face. ‘Tin giving you every chance, you see. You can shoot me now and get clear away—for the moment! Rather not? I think you’re wise.”
THE Cinch stirred at this moment and Coolidge added: “He’s coming to.”
Venner moved backwards to the window, still taking careful aim and muttering. “If you’ve played me false I’ll—” But Coolidge interrupted him with the same disdainful unconern. “My word is as safe as your gun, Venner.”
And Joliffe snatching at Venner’s arm pulled him hastily backwards over the sill, and immediately afterwards drew the curtain across the window, so that their descent with L rch should be invisible.
The black night outside swallowed them up as they stumbled down to the courtyard.
Coolidge, dismissing them from his mind, walked to the buffet and filling a glass with a stiff brandy and soda carried it to the Cinch, who sat up, passing his hand over his forehead in a bewildered way, and stammering: “What’s up?”
“Drink this, young ’un,” said Coolidge, “and listen to me. You bit off more than you could chew. Is it any use helping you back to a straight life?”
The Cinch took a deep draught, while a tinge of colour crept back into his pale lips, and memory flooded his brain.
“So we failed,” he said, “and the others?”
“Gone—for good, if you choose.” Coolidge gave him the envelope and asked: “Would you keep straight for
the sake of anyone whose opinion you value?”
“Who is it? You had better put me wise.”
“A girl. I was in a tangle, and I met Venner at a money-lender’s—and he backed my bill and—”
I KNOW the story,” Coolidge said, “it’s quite a common one; we will not go into it. Would this girl marry you if you could support her, and could you make her happy?”
“I can try,” said the Cinch, adding after a momentary hesitation, “as a matter of fact we are married, secretly, already. I meant if this thing went through, to go back and claim her.” “Back?” queried Coolidge.
“Yes, she belongs to my own part of the world. I’m not a Mantine really; my name is Adams and I’m a clerk in a dumping office.”
“And your wife? Where is she?” Coolidge spoke in an indifferent tone, but a pulse in his temple throbbed vividly. “At home; she’s known as Ada Gray.” Coolidge took a deep breath. “And for her sake you would be glad to give up this freebooting work, eh? You understand, Cinch, that you have had a very narrow shave to-night. Robbery with violence means a long spell of gaol.”
“I know.” The Cinch had lost most of his snap and was very downcast. “What is your motive, Mr. Coolidge?”
“Perhaps I had an inkling it mattered
to some girl. I have a soft corner in me for women. Anyway, you have got your fresh chance; take it.” Coolidge went to a bureau and took out a cheque-book and some paper money. “This for your journey home,” he said, holding it out, “and you can draw the cheque in three days’ time. That will show me you have gone back to your wife—to work— instead of preying on other people and stealing what they have worked for. By the way, if you had got off with the stone you would have had the surprise of your life.; It is only a copy of my amber diamohd—a bit of grit, nothing more.”
The Cinch stared, laughed, pulled himself together, took a stiff whisky-peg, and made a subdued and shame-faced exit. Coolidge closed the window after him, and proceeded to replace the glass top over the tripod.
Suddenly the telephone bell sounded, slightly muffled. He opened a door—let into the bookcase so cleverly that it seemed part of it—and, stepping into the cabinet it had concealed, lifted the receiver.
The voice that came through the receiver brought a flash of strong emotion into his face. “Yes! It’s Coolidge himself,” he replied. “That you, Miss Maylie? What can I do for you? Don’t apologise, please; I am only too flattered you should be interested in my welfare. Yes.... I’m quite all right.... Alone? Yes, absolutely solus now, my friends have gone.. . . No. . . the lucky stone is where it was, and luckier than ever since you deign to inquire after its welfare. .. Well...yes, you were right. They did try, and they failed.
“The Cinch has gone away a sadder and wiser lad. He’s gone right home—at least he promised só to do... . What? you know? He told you about Ada Gray?”
His face took on a joyous look and the vibration of feeling deepened in his voice. “So that was why you asked me to look after him....Well, lucky for him you did. . . .Oh, yes, it developed into a bit of a scrap. My voice sounds tired, does it? Well, I’m glad to have the use of it all the same. Rest?. . .Must I?. . .You will call round and ask for me in the morning? . . . Right! If you’ll promise to come in, I’ll rest.. .Yes!.. .that’s a bargain, isn’t it? Good. And, I say, Miss Maylie— I’ve plucked up a bit more courage since you saw me last; I’m not in quite such a funk—only there’s one thing I want— another lucky stone. No, not a diamond this time—a Pearl—a Pearl beyond price. I’d sacrifice my whole fortune to gain it. . .Not necessary to do that? Some other way out? . Please tell me how.... You’ll teach me tomorrow?. . .No, I can’t wait, I want my lesson before another twelve hours are over, this very day. I shall count the hours till then. Good-night! No! Goodmorning—Pearl!”