“You had luck against you. Another day you will succeed better. Have you played enough?”
“Yes,” answered Mark, annoyed.
He had four games to pay for and two dollars in bets, and it made rather an expensive afternoon.
“Have another drink? I’ll treat,” said James, who could afford to be liberal.
Mark accepted, and then, flushed and excited, he left the saloon, just as Frank came up, as described in the first part of the chapter. On the whole, he was sorry to meet his stepbrother just at this time.
Frank stopped, and his attention was drawn to Mark’s flushed face.
MARK GETS INTO TROUBLE
Mark nodded slightly and was about to pass without a word, when Frank said, quietly:
“I am sorry to see you coming out of such a place, Mark.”
“What is it to you, anyway?” returned Mark, rudely.
“Not much, perhaps,” replied Frank, calmly, “but I don’t like to see my acquaintances coming out of a liquor saloon.”
“It won’t hurt you,” said Mark, irritably.
“No, it won’t hurt me, but if tho principal should hear of it, it would not be pleasant for you. You know students are strictly forbidden to enter any saloon?”
“I suppose you mean to tell on me,” said Mark, hastily, and not altogether without uneasiness.
“You are mistaken. I am not a talebearer.”
“Then there is no need to say any more about it. Come along, James!”
Frank’s interference was well meant, but, as we shall see, it did harm rather than good.
As Mark left the saloon, he had half decided not to enter it again. He was three dollars out of pocket, and this did not suit him at all.
In fact, Mark was rather a mean boy, and it was with considerable reluctance that he had handed over to his companion the two dollars with which to pay for the games.
Moreover, he was mortified at losing the two games of billiards, when so great odds had been given him.
James Carson was no scholar, but he was sharp enough to perceive the state of Mark’s feelings, and he also saw how he was affected by Frank’s remonstrance.
He decided to take advantage of this, and strengthen his hold on Mark.
“Well, Mark,” he said, “I suppose you’ll give up playing billiards now.”
“Why should I?”
“Because your stepbrother doesn’t approve of it. You won’t dare to go into the saloon after he has forbidden you,” he continued, with a sneer.
“What do you mean, James? Do you suppose I care that”—snapping his fingers—“for what Frank says, or even thinks, either?”
“I didn’t know but you might stand in fear of him.”
“Do you mean to insult me?” demanded Mark, hotly.
“Insult you! My dear friend, what can you be thinking of? Why, I like you ten times as much as that muff, Frank Courtney.”