The Fire of London
Pensa, lettor, se quel che qui s'inizia
non procedesse, come tu avresti
di piu sapere angosciosa carizia.
"YOU'RE wanted on the telephone, sir."
Mr. Bruce Bowring, managing director of the Consolidated Mining
and Investment Corporation, Limited (capital two millions, in
one-pound shares, which stood at twenty-seven-and-six), turned and
gazed querulously across the electric-lit spaces of his superb
private office at the confidential clerk who addressed him. Mr.
Bowring, in shirt-sleeves before a Florentine mirror, was brushing
his hair with the solicitude of a mother who has failed to rear
most of a large family.
"Who is it?" he asked, as if that demand for him were the last
straw but one. "Nearly seven on Friday evening!" he added,
"I think a friend, sir."
The middle-aged financier dropped his gold-mounted brush and,
wading through the deep pile of the Oriental carpet, passed into
the telephone-cabinet and shut the door.
"Hallo!" he accosted the transmitter, resolved not to be angry
with it. "Hallo! Are you there? Yes, I'm Bowring. Who are you?"
"Nrrrr," the faint, unhuman voice of the receiver whispered in
his ear. "Nrrrr. Cluck. I'm a friend."
"No name. I thought you might like to know that a determined
robbery is going to be attempted to-night at your house in Lowndes
Square, a robbery of cash — and before nine o'clock. Nrrrr. I
thought you might like to know."
"Ah!" said Mr. Bowring to the transmitter.
The feeble exclamation was all he could achieve at first. In the
confined, hot silence of the telephone-cabinet this message, coming
to him mysteriously out of the vast unknown of London, struck him
with a sudden sick fear that perhaps his wondrously organised
scheme might yet miscarry, even at the final moment. Why that night
of all nights? And why before nine o'clock? Could it be that the
secret was out, then?
"Any further interesting details?" he inquired, bracing himself
to an assumption of imperturbable and gay coolness.
But there was no answer. And when after some difficulty he got
the exchange-girl to disclose the number which had rung him up, he
found that his interlocutor had been using a public call-office in
Oxford Street. He returned to his room, donned his frock-coat, took
a large envelope from a locked drawer and put it in his pocket, and
sat down to think a little.
At that time Mr. Bruce Bowring was one of the most famous
conjurers in the City. He had begun, ten years earlier, with
nothing but a silk hat; and out of that empty hat had been
produced, first the Hoop-La Limited, a South African gold-mine of
numerous stamps and frequent dividends, then the Hoop-La No. 2
Limited, a mine with as many reincarnations as Buddha, and then a
dazzling succession of mines and combination of mines. The more the
hat emptied itself, the more it was full; and the emerging objects
(which now included the house in Lowndes Square and a perfect dream
of a place in Hampshire) grew constantly larger, and the conjurer
more impressive and persuasive, and the audience more enthusiastic
in its applause. At last, with a unique flourish, and a new
turning-up of sleeves to prove that there was no deception, had
come out of the hat the C.M.I.C., a sort of incredibly enormous
Union Jack, which enwrapped all the other objects in its splendid
folds. The shares of the C.M.I.C. were affectionately known in the
Kaffir circus as "Solids"; they yielded handsome though irregular
dividends, earned chiefly by flotation and speculation; the circus
believed in them. And in view of the annual meeting of shareholders
to be held on the following Tuesday afternoon (the conjurer in the
chair and his hat on the table), the market price, after a period
of depression, had stiffened.
Mr. Bowring's meditations were soon interrupted by a telegram.
He opened it and read: "Cook drunk again. Will dine with you
Devonshire, seven-thirty. Impossible here. Have arranged about
luggage. — Marie." Marie was Mr. Bowring's wife. He told himself
that he felt greatly relieved by that telegram; he clutched at it;
and his spirits seemed to rise. At any rate, since he would not now
go near Lowndes Square, he could certainly laugh at the threatened
robbery. He thought what a wonderful thing Providence was, after
"Just look at that," he said to his clerk, showing the telegram
with a humorous affectation of dismay.
"Tut, tut," said the clerk, discreetly sympathetic towards his
employer thug victimised by debauched cooks. "I suppose you're
going down to Hampshire to-night as usual, sir?"
Mr. Bowring replied that he was, and that everything appeared to
be in order for the meeting, and that he should be back on Monday
afternoon or at the latest very early on Tuesday.
Then, with a few parting instructions, and with that eagle
glance round his own room and into circumjacent rooms which a truly
efficient head of affairs never omits on leaving business for the
week-end, Mr. Bowring sedately, yet magnificently, departed from
the noble registered offices of the C.M.I.C.
"Why didn't Marie telephone instead of wiring?" he mused, as his
pair of greys whirled him and his coachman and his footman off to
II. The Devonshire Mansion, a bright edifice of eleven storeys
in the Foster and Dicksee style, constructional ironwork by Homan,
lifts by Waygood, decorations by Waring, and terra-cotta by the
rood, is situate on the edge of Hyde Park. It is a composite
building. Its foundations are firmly fixed in the Tube railway;
above that comes the wine cellarage, then the vast laundry, and
then (a row of windows scarcely level with the street) a sporting
club, a billiard-room, a grill-room, and a cigarette-merchant whose
name ends in "opoulos." On the first floor is the renowned
Devonshire Mansion Restaurant. Always, in London, there is just one
restaurant where, if you are an entirely correct person, "you can
get a decent meal." The place changes from season to season, but
there is never more than one of it at a time. That season it
happened to be the Devonshire. (The chef of the Devonshire had
invented tripe suppers, tripes à la mode de Caen, and these suppers
— seven-and-six — had been the rage.) Consequently all entirely
correct people fed as a matter of course at the Devonshire, since
there was no other place fit to go to. The vogue of the restaurant
favourably affected the vogue of the nine floors of furnished
suites above the restaurant; they were always full; and the
heavenward attics, where the servants took off their smart liveries
and became human, held much wealth. The vogue of the restaurant
also exercised a beneficial influence over the status of the Kitcat
Club, which was a cock-and-hen club of the latest pattern and had
its "house" on the third floor.
It was a little after half-past seven when Mr. Bruce Bowring
haughtily ascended the grand staircase of this resort of opulence,
and paused for an instant near the immense fireplace at the summit
(September was inclement, and a fire burned nicely) to inquire from
the head-waiter whether Mrs. Bowring had secured a table. But Marie
had not arrived — Marie, who was never late! Uneasy and chagrined,
he proceeded, under the escort of the head-waiter, to the
glittering Salle Louis Quatorze and selected, because of his
morning attire, a table half-hidden behind an onyx pillar. The
great room was moderately full of fair women and possessive men,
despite the month. Immediately afterwards a youngish couple (the
man handsomer and better dressed than the woman) took the table on
the other side of the pillar. Mr. Bowring waited five minutes, then
he ordered Sole Mornay and a bottle of Romanee-Conti, and then he
waited another five minutes. He went somewhat in fear of his wife,
and did not care to begin without her.
"Can't you read?" It was the youngish man at the next table
speaking in a raised voice to a squinting lackey with a telegraph
form in his hand. "'Solids! Solids,' my friend. 'Sell — Solids — to
— any — amount — to-morrow — and — Monday.' Got it? Well, send it
off at once."
"Quite clear, my lord," said the lackey, and fled. The youngish
man gazed fixedly but absently at Mr. Bowring and seemed to see
through him to the tapestry behind. Mr. Bowring, to his own keen
annoyance, reddened. Partly to conceal the blush, and partly
because it was a quarter to eight and there was the train to catch,
he lowered his face, and began upon the sole. A few minutes later
the lackey returned, gave some change to the youngish man, and
surprised Mr. Bowring by advancing towards him and handing him an
envelope — an envelope which bore on its flap the legend "Kitcat
Club." The note within was scribbled in pencil in his wife's
handwriting, and ran: "Just arrived. Delayed by luggage. I'm too
nervous to face the restaurant, and am eating a chop here alone.
The place is fortunately empty. Come and fetch me as soon as you're
Mr. Bowring sighed angrily. He hated his wife's club, and this
succession of messages telephonic, telegraphic, and caligraphic was
"No answer!" he ejaculated, and then he beckoned the lackey
closer. "Who's that gentleman at the next table with the lady?" he
"I'm not rightly sure, sir," was the whispered reply. "Some
authorities say he's the strong man at the Hippodrome, while others
affirm he's a sort of American millionaire."
"But you addressed him as 'my lord.'"
"Just then I thought he was the strong man, sir," said the
"My bill!" Mr. Bowring demanded fiercely of the waiter, and at
the same time the youngish gentleman and his companion rose and
At the lift Mr. Bowring found the squinting lackey in
"You're the liftman, too?"
"To-night, sir, I am many things. The fact is, the regular
liftman has got a couple of hours off — being the recent father of
"Well — Kitcat Club."
The lift seemed to shoot far upwards, and Mr. Bowring thought
the lackey had mistaken the floor, but on gaining the corridor he
saw across the portals in front of him the remembered gold sign,
"Kitcat Club. Members only." He Pushed the door open and went
III. Instead of the familiar vestibule of his wife's club, Mr.
Bowring discovered a small antechamber, and beyond, through a
doorway half-screened by a portière he had glimpses of a rich,
rose-lit drawing-room. In the doorway, with one hand raised to the
portière, stood the youngish man who had forced him to blush in the
"I beg your pardon," said Mr. Bowring, stiffly — "is this the
The other man advanced to the outer door, his brilliant eyes
fixed on Mr. Bowring's; his arm crept round the cheek of the door
and came back bearing the gold sign; then he shut the door and
locked it. "No, this isn't the Kitcat Club at all," he replied. "It
is my flat. Come and sit down. I was expecting you."
"I shall do nothing of the kind," said Mr. Bowring
"But when I tell you that I know you are going to decamp
to-night, Mr. Bowring ——"
The youngish man smiled affably.
"Decamp?" The spine of the financier suddenly grew flaccid.
"I used the word."
"Who the devil are you?" snapped the financier, forcing his
spine to rigidity.
"I am the 'friend' on the telephone. I specially wanted you at
the Devonshire to-night, and I thought that the fear of a robbery
at Lowndes Square might make your arrival here more certain. I am
he who devised the story of the inebriated cook and favoured you
with a telegram signed 'Marie.' I am the humorist who pretended in
a loud voice to send off telegraphic instructions to sell 'Solids,'
in order to watch your demeanour under the test. I am the expert
who forged your wife's handwriting in a note from the Kitcat. I am
the patron of the cross-eyed menial who gave you the note and who
afterwards raised you too high in the lift. I am the artificer of
this gold sign, an exact duplicate of the genuine one two floors
below, which induced you to visit me. The sign alone cost me
nine-and-six; the servant's livery came to two pounds fifteen. But
I never consider expense when, by dint of a generous outlay, I can
avoid violence. I hate violence." He gently waved the sign to and
"Then my wife ——" Mr. Bowring stammered in a panic rage.
"Is probably at Lowndes Square, wondering what on earth has
happened to you."
Mr. Bowring took breath, remembered that he was a great man, and
"You must be mad," he remarked quietly. "Open this door at
"Perhaps," the stranger judicially admitted. "Perhaps a sort of
madness. But do come and sit down. We have no time to lose."
Mr. Bowring gazed at that handsome face, with the fine nostrils,
large mouth, and square, clean chin, and the dark eyes, the black
hair, and long, black moustache; and he noticed the long, thin
hands. "Decadent!" he decided. Nevertheless, and though it was with
the air of indulging the caprice of a lunatic, he did in fact obey
the stranger's request.
It was a beautiful Chippendale drawing-room that he entered.
Near the hearth, to which a morsel of fire gave cheerfulness, were
two easy-chairs, and between them a small table. Behind was
extended a fourfold draught-screen.
"I can give you just five minutes," said Mr. Bowring,
magisterially sitting down.
"They will suffice," the stranger responded, sitting down also.
" You have in your pocket, Mr. Bowring — probably your
breast-pocket — fifty Bank of England notes for a thousand pounds
each, and a number of smaller notes amounting to another ten
"I must demand from you the first-named fifty."
Mr. Bowring, in the silence of the rose-lit drawing-room,
thought of all the Devonshire Mansion, with its endless corridors
and innumerable rooms, its acres of carpets, its forests of
furniture, its gold and silver, and its jewels and its wines, its
pretty women and possessive men — the whole humming microcosm
founded on a unanimous pretence that the sacredness of property was
a natural law. And he thought how disconcerting it was that he
should be trapped there, helpless, in the very middle of the vast
pretence, and forced to admit that the sacredness of property was a
purely artificial convention.
"By what right do you make this demand?" he inquired, bravely
"By the right of my unique knowledge," said the stranger, with a
bright smile. "Listen to what you and I alone know. You are at the
end of the tether. The Consolidated is at the same spot. You have a
past consisting chiefly of nineteen fraudulent flotations. You have
paid dividends out of capital till there is no capital left. You
have speculated and lost. You have cooked balance-sheets to a turn
and ruined the eyesight of auditors with dust. You have lived like
ten lords. Your houses are mortgaged. You own an unrivalled
collection of unreceipted bills. You are worse than a common thief.
(Excuse these personalities.)"
"My dear, good sir ——" Mr. Bowring interrupted, grandly.
"Permit me. What is more serious, your self-confidence has been
gradually deserting you. At last, perceiving that some blundering
person was bound soon to put his foot through the brittle shell of
your ostentation and tread on nothing, and foreseeing for yourself
an immediate future consisting chiefly of Holloway, you have by a
supreme effort of your genius, borrowed £60,000 from a bank on
C.M.I.C. scrip, for a week (eh?), and you have arranged, you and
your wife, to — melt into thin air. You will affect to set out as
usual for your country place in Hampshire, but it is Southampton
that will see you to-night, and Havre will see you to-morrow. You
may run over to Paris to change some notes, but by Monday you will
be on your way to —— frankly, I don't know where; perhaps Monte
Video. Of course you take the risk of extradition, but the risk is
preferable to the certainty that awaits you in England. I think you
will elude extradition. If I thought otherwise, I should not have
had you here to-night, because, once extradited, you might begin to
amuse yourself by talking about me."
"So it's blackmail," said Mr. Bowring, grim.
The dark eyes opposite to him sparkled gaily.
"It desolates me," the youngish man observed, "to have to commit
you to the deep with only ten thousand. But, really, not less than
fifty thousand will requite me for the brain-tissue which I have
expended in the study of your interesting situation."
Mr. Bowring consulted his watch.
"Come, now," he said, huskily; "I'll give you ten thousand. I
flatter myself I can look facts in the face, and so I'll give you
"My friend," answered the spider, "you are a judge of character.
Do you honestly think I don't mean precisely what I say — to
sixpence? It is eight-thirty. You are, if I may be allowed the
remark, running it rather fine."
"And suppose I refuse to part?" said Mr. Bowring, after
reflection. "What then?"
"I have confessed to you that I hate violence. You would
therefore leave this room unmolested, but you wouldn't step off the
Mr. Bowring scanned the agreeable features of the stranger.
Then, while the lifts were ascending and descending, and the wine
was sparkling, and the jewels flashing, and the gold chinking, and
the pretty women being pretty, in all the four quarters of the
Devonshire, Mr. Bruce Bowring in the silent parlour counted out
fifty notes on to the table. After all, it was a fortune, that
little pile of white on the crimson polished wood.
"Bon voyage!" said the stranger. "Don't imagine that I am not
full of sympathy for you. I am. You have only been unfortunate. Bon
"No! By Heaven!" Mr. Bowring almost shouted, rushing back from
the door, and drawing a revolver from his hip pocket. "It's too
much! I didn't mean to — but confound it! what's a revolver
The youngish man jumped up quickly and put his hands on the
"Violence is always foolish, Mr. Bowring," he murmured.
"Will you give them up, or won't you?"
The stranger's fine eyes seemed to glint with joy in the
The revolver was raised, but in the same instant a tiny hand
snatched it from the hand of Mr. Bowring, who turned and beheld by
his side a woman. The huge screen sank slowly and noiselessly to
the floor in the surprising manner peculiar to screens that have
Mr. Bowring cursed. "An accomplice! I might have guessed!" he
grumbled in final disgust.
He ran to the door, unlocked it, and was no more seen.
IV. The lady was aged twenty-seven or so; of medium height, and
slim, with a plain, very intelligent and expressive face, lighted
by courageous, grey eyes and crowned with loose, abundant, fluffy
hair. Perhaps it was the fluffy hair, perhaps it was the mouth that
twitched as she dropped the revolver — who can say? — but the whole
atmosphere of the rose-lit chamber was suddenly changed. The
incalculable had invaded it.
"You seem surprised, Miss Fincastle," said the possessor of the
bank-notes, laughing gaily.
"Surprised!" echoed the lady, controlling that mouth. "My dear
Mr. Thorold, when, strictly as a journalist, I accepted your
invitation, I did not anticipate this sequel; frankly I did
She tried to speak coldly and evenly, on the assumption that a
journalist has no sex during business hours. But just then she
happened to be neither less nor more a woman than a woman always
"If I have had the misfortune to annoy you ——!" Thorold threw up
his arms in gallant despair.
"Annoy is not the word," said Miss Fincastle, nervously smiling.
"May I sit down? Thanks. Let us recount. You arrive in England,
from somewhere, as the son and heir of the late Ahasuerus Thorold,
the New York operator, who died worth six million dollars. It
becomes known that while in Algiers in the spring you stayed at the
Hôtel St. James, famous as the scene of what is called the 'Algiers
Mystery,' familiar to English newspaper-readers since last April.
The editor of my journal therefore instructs me to obtain an
interview with you. I do so. The first thing I discover is that,
though an American, you have no American accent. You explain this
by saying that since infancy you have always lived in Europe with
"But surely you do not doubt that I am Cecil Thorold!" said the
man. Their faces were approximate over the table.
"Of course not. I merely recount. To continue. I interview you
as to the Algerian mystery, and get some new items concerning it.
Then you regale me with tea and your opinions, and my questions
grow more personal. So it comes about that, strictly on behalf of
my paper, I inquire what your recreations are. And suddenly you
answer: 'Ah! My recreations! Come to dinner to-night, quite
informally, and I will show you how I amuse myself!' I come. I
dine. I am stuck behind that screen and told to listen. And — and —
the millionaire proves to be nothing but a blackmailer."
"You must understand, my dear lady ——"
"I understand everything, Mr. Thorold, except your object in
admitting me to the scene."
"A whim!" cried Thorold vivaciously, "a freak of mine! Possibly
due to the eternal and universal desire of man to show off before
The journalist tried to smile, but something in her face caused
Thorold to run to a chiffonier.
"Drink this," he said, returning with a glass.
"I need nothing." The voice was a whisper.
Miss Fincastle drank and coughed.
"Why did you do it?" she asked sadly, looking at the notes.
"You don't mean to say," Thorold burst out, "that you are
feeling sorry for Mr. Bruce Bowring? He has merely parted with what
he stole. And the people from whom he stole, stole. All the
activities which centre about the Stock Exchange are simply various
manifestations of one primeval instinct. Suppose I had not — had
not interfered. No one would have been a penny the better off
except Mr. Bruce Bowring. Whereas ——"
"You intend to restore this money to the Consolidated?" said
Miss Fincastle eagerly.
"Not quite! The Consolidated doesn't deserve it. You must not
regard its shareholders as a set of innocent shorn lambs. They knew
the game. They went in for what they could get. Besides, how could
I restore the money without giving myself away? I want the money
"But you are a millionaire."
"It is precisely because I am a millionaire that I want more.
All millionaires are like that."
"I am sorry to find you a thief, Mr. Thorold."
"A thief! No. I am only direct, I only avoid the middleman. At
dinner, Miss Fincastle, you displayed somewhat advanced views about
property, marriage, and the aristocracy of brains. You said that
labels were for the stupid majority, and that the wise minority
examined the ideas behind the labels. You label me a thief, but
examine the idea, and you will perceive that you might as well call
yourself a thief. Your newspaper every day suppresses the truth
about the City, and it does so in order to live. In other words, it
touches the pitch, it participates in the game. To-day it has a
fifty-line advertisement of a false balance-sheet of the
Consolidated, at two shillings a line. That five pounds, part of
the loot of a great city, will help to pay for your account of our
interview this afternoon."
"Our interview to-night," Miss Fincastle corrected him stiffly,
"and all that I have seen and heard."
At these words she stood up, and as Cecil Thorold gazed at her
his face changed.
"I shall begin to wish," he said slowly, " that I had deprived
myself of the pleasure of your company this evening."
"You might have been a dead man had you done so," Miss Fincastle
retorted, and observing his blank countenance she touched the
revolver. "Have you forgotten already?" she asked tartly.
"Of course it wasn't loaded," he remarked. "Of course I had seen
to that earlier in the day. I am not such a bungler ——"
"Then I didn't save your life?"
"You force me to say that you did not, and to remind you that
you gave me your word not to emerge from behind the screen.
However, seeing the motive, I can only thank you for that lapse.
The pity is that it hopelessly compromises you."
"Me?" exclaimed Miss Fincastle.
"You. Can't you see that you are in it, in this robbery, to give
the thing a label. You were alone with the robber. You succoured
the robber at a critical moment ... 'Accomplice,' Mr. Bowring
himself said. My dear journalist, the episode of the revolver,
empty though the revolver was, seals your lips."
Miss Fincastle laughed rather hysterically, leaning over the
table with her hands on it.
"My dear millionaire," she said rapidly, "you don't know the new
journalism, to which I have the honour to belong. You would know it
better had you lived more in New York. All I have to announce is
that, compromised or not, a full account of this affair will appear
in my paper to-morrow morning. No, I shall not inform the police. I
am a journalist simply, but a journalist I am."
"And your promise, which you gave me before going behind the
screen, your solemn promise that you would reveal nothing? I was
loth to mention it."
"Some promises, Mr. Thorold, it is a duty to break, and it is my
duty to break this one. I should never have given it had I had the
slightest idea of the nature of your recreations."
Thorold still smiled, though faintly.
"Really, you know,"' he murmured, "this is getting just a little
"It is very serious," she stammered.
And then Thorold noticed that the new journalist was softly
V. The door opened.
"Miss Kitty Sartorius," said the erstwhile liftman, who was now
in plain clothes and had mysteriously ceased to squint.
A beautiful girl, a girl who had remarkable loveliness and was
aware of it (one of the prettiest women of the Devonshire), ran
impulsively into the room and caught Miss Fincastle by the
"My dearest Eve, you're crying. What's the matter?"
"Lecky," said Thorold aside to the servant. "I told you to admit
The beautiful blonde turned sharply to Thorold.
"I told him I wished to enter," she said imperiously, half
closing her eyes.
"Yes, sir," said Lecky. "That was it. The lady wished to
"It was sufficient," he said. "That will do, Lecky."
"But I say, Lecky, when next you address me publicly, try to
remember that I am not in the peerage."
The servant squinted.
"Certainly, sir." And he retired.
"Now we are alone," said Miss Sartorius. "Introduce us, Eve, and
Miss Fincastle, having regained self-control, introduced her
dear friend the radiant star of the Regency Theatre, and her
acquaintance the millionaire.
"Eve didn't feel quite sure of you," the actress stated; "and so
we arranged that if she wasn't up at my flat by nine o'clock, I was
to come down and reconnoitre. What have you been doing to make Eve
"Unintentional, I assure you ——" Thorold began.
"There's something between you two," said Kitty Sartorius
sagaciously, in significant accents. "What is it?"
She sat down, touched her picture hat, smoothed her white gown,
and tapped her foot. "What is it, now? Mr. Thorold, I think you had
better tell me."
Thorold raised his eyebrows and obediently commenced the
narration, standing with his back to the fire.
"How perfectly splendid!" Kitty exclaimed. "I'm so glad you
cornered Mr. Bowring. I met him one night and I thought he was
horrid. And these are the notes? Well, of all the ——!"
Thorold proceeded with his story.
"Oh, but you can't do that, Eve!" said Kitty, suddenly serious.
"You can't go and split! It would mean all sorts of bother; your
wretched newspaper would be sure to keep you hanging about in
London, and we shouldn't be able to start on our holiday to-morrow.
Eve and I are starting on quite a long tour to-morrow, Mr. Thorold;
we begin with Ostend."
"Indeed!" said Thorold. "I, too, am going in that direction
soon. Perhaps we may meet."
"I hope so," Kitty smiled, and then she looked at Eve Fincastle.
"You really mustn't do that, Eve," she said.
"I must, I must!" Miss Fincastle insisted, clenching her
"And she will," said Kitty tragically, after considering her
friend's face. "She will, and our holiday's ruined. I see it — I
see it plainly. She's in one of her stupid conscientious moods.
She's fearfully advanced and careless and unconventional in theory,
Eve is; but when it comes to practice! Mr. Thorold, you have just
got everything into a dreadful knot. Why did you want those notes
so very particularly?"
"I don't want them so very particularly."
"Well, anyhow, it's a most peculiar predicament. Mr. Bowring
doesn't count, and this Consolidated thingummy isn't any the worse
off. Nobody suffers who oughtn't to suffer. It's your unlawful gain
that's wrong. Why not pitch the wretched notes in the fire?" Kitty
laughed at her own playful humour.
"Certainly," said Thorold. And with a quick movement he put the
fifty trifles in the grate, where they made a bluish yellow
Both the women screamed and sprang up.
"Mr. Thorold!" ("He's adorable!" Kitty breathed.)
"The incident, I venture to hope, is now closed," said Thorold
calmly, but with his dark eyes sparkling. "I must thank you both
for a very enjoyable evening. Some day, perhaps, I may have an
opportunity of further explaining my philosophy to you."