“It’s easy enough. I can leave it in another cab, or drop it in the river.”
“Andrew, Andrew,” I cried, “you’re determined to go to prison! Don’t you know from all the humorous articles you’ve ever read that, if you try to lose anything, then you never can? It’s one of the stock remarks one makes to women in the endeavour to keep them amused. No, you must think of some more subtle way of disposing of it.”
“I’ll pretend it’s yours,” said Andrew more subtly, and he placed it in my pocket.
“No, you don’t,” I said. “But I tell you what I will do. I’ll take it for a week and see if I can get rid of it. If I can’t, I shall give it you back and wash my hands of the whole business—except, of course, for the monthly letter or whatever it is they allow you at the Scrubbs. You may still count on me for that.”
And then the extraordinary thing happened. The next morning I received a letter from a stranger, asking for some simple information which I could have given him on a post-card. And so I should have done—or possibly, I am afraid, have forgotten to answer at all—but for the way that the letter ended up.
“Yours very truly,
ERNEST M. WOOLMAN.”
The magic initials! It was a chance not to be missed. I wrote enthusiastically back and asked him to lunch.
He came. I gave him all the information he wanted, and more. Whether he was a pleasant sort of person or not I hardly noticed; I was so very pleasant myself.
He returned my enthusiasm. He asked me to dine with him the following week. A little party at the Savoy—his birthday, you know.
I accepted gladly. I rolled up at the party with my little present...a massive silver cigar-case...suitably engraved.
* * * * *
So there you are. He clings to me. He seems to have formed the absurd idea that I am fond of him. A few months after that evening at the Savoy he was married. I was invited to the wedding—confound him. Of course I had to live up to my birthday present; the least I could do was an enormous silver cigar-box (not engraved), which bound me to him still more strongly.
By that time I realized that I hated him. He was pushing, familiar, everything that I disliked. All my friends wondered how I had become so intimate with him....
Well, now they know. And the original E.M.W., if he has the sense to read this, also knows. If he cares to prosecute Ernest Merrowby Woolman for being in possession of stolen goods, I shall be glad to give him any information. Woolman is generally to be found leaving my rooms at about 6.30 in the evening, and a smart detective could easily nab him as he steps out.
A MIDSUMMER MADNESS
The girl who shared Herbert’s meringue at dinner (a brittle one, which exploded just as he was getting into it) was kind and tactful.