“He is very clever,” said Selina, with a kind smile
Mr. Drill turned pale, and then, somewhat emboldened by praise from such a quarter, dropped into a chair by her side and began to talk in low tones. The grateful Mr. Gunnill, more relieved than he cared to confess, thoughtfully closed his eyes.
“I didn’t think all along that you’d let Herbert outdo you,” said Selina.
“I want to outdo him,” said Mr. Drill, in a voice of much meaning.
Miss Gunnill cast down her eyes and Mr. Drill had just plucked up sufficient courage to take her hand when footsteps stopped at the house, the handle of the door was turned, and, for the second time that evening, the inflamed visage of Mr. Jenkins confronted the company.
“Don’t tell me it’s a failure,” said Mr. Gunnill, starting from his chair. “You must have been handling it roughly. It was as good as new when you took it away.”
Mr. Jenkins waved him away and fixed his eyes upon Drill.
“You think you’re mighty clever, I dare say,” he said, grimly; “but I can put two and two together. I’ve just heard of it.”
“Heard of two and two?” said Drill, looking puzzled.
“I don’t want any of your nonsense,” said Mr. Jenkins. “I’m not on duty now, but I warn you not to say anything that may be used against you.”
“I never do,” said Mr. Drill, piously.
“Somebody threw a handful o’ flour in poor Cooper’s face a couple of hours ago,” said Mr. Jenkins, watching him closely, “and while he was getting it out of his eyes they upset him and made off with his helmet and truncheon. I just met Brown and he says Cooper’s been going on like a madman.”
“By Jove! it’s a good job I mended your helmet for you,” said Mr. Drill, “or else they might have suspected you.”
Mr. Jenkins stared at him. “I know who did do it,” he said, significantly.
“Herbert Sims?” guessed Mr. Drill, in a stage whisper.
“You’ll be one o’ the first to know,” said Mr. Jenkins, darkly; “he’ll be arrested to-morrow. Fancy the impudence of it! It’s shocking.”
Mr. Drill whistled. “Nell, don’t let that little affair o’ yours with Sims be known,” he said, quietly. “Have that kept quiet—if you can.”
Mr. Jenkins started as though he had been stung. In the joy of a case he had overlooked one or two things. He turned and regarded the young man wistfully.
“Don’t call on me as a witness, that’s all,” continued Mr. Drill. “I never was a mischief-maker, and I shouldn’t like to have to tell how you lent your helmet to Sims so that he could pretend he had knocked Cooper down and taken it from him.”
[Illustration: “Don’t call on me as a witness, that’s all,” continued Mr. Drill.]
“Wouldn’t look at all well,” said Mr. Gunnill, nodding his head sagely.
Mr. Jenkins breathed hard and looked from one to the other. It was plain that it was no good reminding them that he had not had a case for five years.