“But I won’t! And I defy you to do your worst, you—you—” and there is no knowing what would have happened, had not Gladys suddenly come in and dragged her father out of the room.
“How dare you?” she exclaimed, returning to the study to find Hamar still there. “I’ve telephoned to the police, and unless you go instantly and promise not to come again, I shall give you in charge, for annoyance.”
“Foolish of you—very foolish!” Hamar said, “when I want to be friendly. Sooner or later you must give in, so why not end all this needless unpleasantness now, and receive me—if not with open arms—at least amicably. You are so awfully pretty! I must have just one——” but before he could kiss Gladys the police arrived, and Hamar once more retired—with somewhat undignified haste, and more than a little discomfited.
On arriving in Cockspur Street, Hamar’s temper underwent a still further trial. Kelson, taking advantage of his absence, had gone off to tea with Lilian Rosenberg.
In ill-suppressed fury, he waited till they returned.
“A word with you, Matt,” he said, as Kelson tried to shuffle past him. “So this is the way you behave when my back is turned. I suppose you’ve had a good time!”
“And you know the consequences!”
“Only that I’m looking forward to the same thing another day.”
“She won’t,” Kelson chuckled. “She is far too valuable. So there, old man! A month ago your threat might have held good. It won’t now. You daren’t—you positively daren’t part with her—because, if you did so, you’d not only part with a good few of your secrets, but you’d part with me.”
THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE
“What’s to be done with Matt?” Hamar asked Curtis, soon after the interview just recorded. “He’s as sweet on Rosensberg as he can be, and says if I dismiss her he’ll go too!”
“Then don’t dismiss her,” Curtis replied. “Leave them both alone, that’s my tip. I don’t believe Matt’s such a fool as to fall in love, and I’m quite sure the girl isn’t. Why, she went to the Tivoli with me two nights ago, and to the Empire with another fellow the night before that. It isn’t in her to stick to one, she would go with any one who would treat her. Don’t worry your head over that. Matt might say ’How about Leon and Gladys Martin.’”
“So he might, but there’s no danger there. The girl is deuced pretty—splendid eyes, hair, teeth, hands and all that sort of thing, and I’ve set my heart on a bit of canoodling with her, but as for love! Well! it’s not in my programme.”
“Still, stranger things have happened,” Curtis said. “Anyhow, I guess you’re both mad and that I’m the only sane one. Give me a ten-course dinner at the Savoy, and you may have all the women in London—I don’t go a cent on them.”