For Todd had taken his precautions. His watch—a gold one, “jewelled in numberless holes,” as its owner pathetically remarked—had been left with the family jeweller for three bright golden sovereigns, an eight-and-six brass turnip, which went jolly well, although its tick was a trifle vigorous under Gus’s pillow, and an agreement. This document, drawn up by himself, Gus regarded as a very masterpiece of business-like acumen. Gus could have his gold watch back again within the year by paying three sovereigns, and buying the brass turnip for half a sovereign, the profit accruing on this latter transaction being, as Gus explained proudly, the jeweller’s percentage on the loan. The family jeweller had informed Gus casually that he couldn’t keep a wife and growing family on such percentages, but to oblige, etc.
Todd received Mr. James Cotton blandly and politely, and Jim, in his heavy way, mistook this airiness for non-paying symptoms on Gus’s part.
“Had a good time, old cock, during the holidays?”
“Beastly,” said Gus.
“No end. Been making the will again, and leaving me out.”
“Perry fiasco, eh?”
“Yes, and other things.”
“Well, I hope you can pay up all you owe me, old chap.”
“Oh yes!” said Gus. “I said I would keep my word, although you were so good as to have your doubts.”
“All right, glad you can manage it.”
“Here you are,” said Gus, thrusting his hand into his pocket and bringing up his coins. “Three three for that rotten bet, and the other fifteen bob I owed you. It’s all there.”
Cotton opened his eyes.
“You said the governor was rusty, Gus?”
“So he was, beastly; but I can pay you all the same.”
“Well,” said Cotton, after a little awkward pause, “I don’t want to clean you out quite, so pay half now and the rest next term. Would that suit you better, Gus?”
“Thanks, I don’t mind,” said Gus, airily. “Here’s half, then.”
Cotton left his friend’s room considerably puzzled, but when he came next night with his books for his old jackal’s attentions as before, he was more than puzzled, for Gus said—
“Can give you half an hour, Jim.”
“We won’t be able to screw up enough for Merishall in that time, old man.”
“Then you’ll have to do the rest yourself, Jim. I’m not going to piffle about any more.”
“Oh, don’t be an ass, Gus! I’ve heard that footle before,” said Cotton, with his heavy selfishness.
“Not quite, for this time I mean what I say.”
“Oh no, you don’t!”
“Oh yes, I do!”
“You wouldn’t leave a fellow in the lurch like this, after all I—”
“I was left in the lurch last term, Jim, dear, and I’d rather you had a taste of it this go. Do you remember when old Corker was savaging me before all the school!”