“Say, old man,” he whispered in his ear,—they were sitting side by side now in the Bal Tabarin,—“if you are going on like this, Heaven knows where you’ll land at the end of it all! I’ll look after you as well as I can,—where you go, I’ll go—but we can’t be together every second of the time. Don’t you think you’d be safer if you handed over your pocketbook to me?”
“Right you are!” Mr. Coulson declared, falling a little over on one side. “Take it out of my pocket. Be careful of it now. There’s five hundred francs there, and the plans of a loom which I wouldn’t sell for a good many thousands.”
Mr. Gaynsforth possessed himself quickly of the pocketbook, and satisfied himself that his friend’s description of its contents was fairly correct.
“You’ve nothing else upon you worth taking care of?” he whispered. “You can trust me, you know. You haven’t any papers, or anything of that sort?”
Then Mr. James B. Coulson, who was getting tired of his part, suddenly sat up, and a soberer man had never occupied that particular chair in the Bal Tabarin.
“And if I have, my young friend,” he said calmly, “what the devil business is it of yours?”
Mr. Gaynsforth was taken aback and showed it. He recovered himself as quickly as possible, and realized that he had been living in a fool’s paradise so far as the condition of his companion was concerned. He realized, also, that the first move in the game between them had been made and that he had lost.
“You are too good an actor for me, Mr. Coulson,” he said. “Suppose we get to business.”
“That’s all right,” Mr. Coulson answered. “Let’s go somewhere where we can get some supper. We’ll go to the Abbaye Theleme, and you shall have the pleasure of entertaining me.”
Mr. Gaynsforth handed back the pocketbook and led the way out of the place without a word. It was only a few steps up the hill, and they found themselves then in a supper place of a very different class. Here Mr. Coulson, after a brief visit to the lavatory, during which he obliterated all traces of his recent condition, seated himself at one of the small flower-decked tables and offered the menu to his new friend.