She opened the gate for him. “What you can see in it!” she murmured.
He said, “Oh, well!”
But on the following day he was surprised and intensely pleased to see his champion peg gleaming white in the sunshine. Mabel was in the morning room, sewing.
“Hullo, sewing? I say, did you paint my peg? How jolly nice of you!”
She looked up. “Your peg? Whatever do you mean?”
“That record distance peg of mine. Painted it white, haven’t you?”
“No, I didn’t paint it!”
“Who the dickens—? Well, I’ll just wash my hands. Not had tea, have you? Good.”
When Low Jinks came to his room with hot water—a detail of the perfect appointment of the house under Mabel’s management was her rule that Rebecca always came to the door for the master’s bicycle, handed him the brush for his shoes and trousers, and then took hot water to his room—he asked her, “I say, Low Jinks, did you paint that peg of mine?”
Low Jinks coloured and spoke apologetically: “Well, I thought it would show up better, sir. There was a drop of whitewash in—”
“By Jove, it does. It looks like a regular winning-post. Jolly nice of you, Low.”
Two months afterwards the bicycle did the worst on record. This was a surprising affair; the runs had recently been excitingly good; and when Low Jinks came out to take the bicycle he greeted her: “I say, Low Jinks, I only got just up to Mr. Fargus’s gate just now. Worst I’ve ever done.”
Low Jinks was enormously concerned. “Well! I never did!” exclaimed Low Jinks. “If those bicycles aren’t just things! You’ll want a peg for that, sir. Like you had one for the best.”
“That’s an idea, Low. What about painting it?”
“Oh, I will, sir!”
But he did not mention the new record to Mabel.
The other end of the daily bicycle ride, the Tidborough end, provided no feats of cycling interest. The extremely narrow, cobbled thoroughfare in which the offices of Fortune, East and Sabre were situated usually caused Sabre’s approach to them to be made on foot, wheeling his machine.
Fortune, East and Sabre, Ecclesiastical and Scholastic Furnishers and Designers, had in Tidborough what is called, in business and professional circles, a good address. A good address for a metropolitan money lender is the West End in the neighbourhood of Bond Street; a good address for a solicitor is Bloomsbury in the neighbourhood of Bedford Square: for an architect Westminster in the neighbourhood of Victoria Street, for commerce the City in the neighbourhood of the Bank. The idea is that, though clothes do not make the man, a good address makes, or rather bestows the reputation, and conveys the impression that the owner of the good address, being in that neighbourhood, is not within many thousands of miles (or pounds) of the neighbourhood of Bankruptcy.