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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 420 pages of information about The Iron Game.
the excesses that ended the profligate’s career; that the two men had staked large sums at play in Bucephalo, and that inability to meet his losses to Boone had caused Dick Perley’s flight.  He had been seen by one of the village people a year or two before the war in Richmond, and had been heard of in California later, but no word had ever reached his family, not even when his wife died, two years after his exile.  There were those who said that Boone was in correspondence with his victim, and it was known that drafts, made by Dick Perley, had been paid by Boone at the bank in Warchester.  Between Boone and the Perley ladies, whose house was separated from “Acre Villa” by a wide lawn and hedge, there had always been the tacit enmity that wrong on one side and meek unreproach on the other breeds.  The rancor that manifested itself in Boone’s treatment of the Misses Perley was not imitated by them.  They never alluded to their affluent neighbor, never suffered gossip concerning the Boones in what Olympia humorously called the “Orphic adytum,” the “tabby-shop,” as Wesley named the Perley parlors.  Young Dick, however, had none of the scruples that kept his aunts silent.  One dreadful day, when he had been nagged to fisticuffs with Wesley, whose dudish dignity exacted a certain restraint with the hot-headed youngster, Elisha Boone, behind the thick hedge, heard on the highway outside his grounds this outrageous anathema: 

“You’re no more than a thief, Wes Boone; your father stole all he’s got.  Some day I’ll make him give it back, or send him to jail, where he ought to be now.”

Schoolboy though the railer was, Boone staggered against the hedge, the words brought a dreadful flush and then a livid pallor to the miserable parent’s cheek.  He dared not trust himself to speak then.  Nor was the antipathy the outbreak caused mitigated by the savage thrashing that Wesley, throwing aside his dignity, proceeded to administer to the unbridled accuser.  After that, by the father’s sternest command, neither of his children was to return the courteous salutation the Perley ladies had never ceased to bestow in meeting the Boones walking or in company.  Now, Dick was the kind of boy that those who know boy nature would call adorable.  To the Philistine, without humor or sympathy, I’m afraid he was a very bad boy.  He was until late in his teens painfully shy with grown people and strangers; even under the eyes of his aunts and with youths of his own age, diffident to awkwardness.  He had the face of a well-fed cherub and the gentle, dreamy, and wistful eye of a girl in love.  With his elders he had the halting, confused speech of a new boy in a big school.  But in the woods or on the playground he was the merriest, most daring, and winningly obstreperous lad that ever filled three maiden aunts with terror and delight.

CHAPTER V.

A NAPOLEONIC EPIGRAM.

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