“I can’t do that,” said Jack, in utter despair.
“Orl right,” said Raffles, seeing his shot had told. “I see you ain’t got the money on you now, and I don’t want to be too ’ard on you. I’ll give you a chance. I’ll give you till Saturday to turn it over. My advice is to borrow from Mr. Acting. He’ll lend it you, I should think; anyhow, I can’t stand shilly-shallying here all night, no more than I can stand the loss of that grand gun, so I’m off. Have the money by Saturday at three, or I blow the gaff and you can be hung up or cut up for all I care. I’m not going to be more beastly friendly nor more chummy than that.”
Raffles lurched off with a savage leer, and Jack staggered back to St. Amory’s.
Jack’s life was a burden to him for the next few hours, his head nearly split with the hatching of impossible plans with loopholes to escape the weasel on his track, but the end was as Acton had foreseen. Acton got a note through Grim.
“Could you give me ten minutes in your study to-night?—Yours,
“Twenty, if you like.—Yours,
Jack went, and when Acton put him into the easy-chair and noticed his white, fagged face, he felt genuinely sorry for him.
“You look seedy, young ’un.”
“I hope I don’t look as seedy as I feel, that’s all.”
“What’s the matter?”
Jack boggled over what he’d come to say, but finally blurted out: “Acton, would you lend me seven pounds? I’m in a hole, the deuce of a hole; in fact, I’m pretty well hopelessly stumped. I’ll tell you why if you ask me, but I hope you won’t. I’ve been an ass, but I’ve collared some awful luck, and I’m not quite the black sheep I seem. I don’t want to ask Phil—in fact, I couldn’t, simply couldn’t ask him for this. I’ll pay you back beginning of next term if I can raise as much, and if not, as much as I can then, and the rest later.”
“Oh, you’re straight enough, young ’un, and I’ll lend you the money,” said Acton.
Jack blubbed in his thanks, for he was really run down.
“Keep up your pecker, Bourne. Borrowing isn’t a crime, quite. When do you want the cash?”
“By to-morrow, please,” said Jack.
“Call in for it, then, before afternoon school, and you can pay me back as you say. I suppose the sharks have got hold of you.”
“Yes,” said Jack, with perfect truth, though he only knew of one, and he went to bed that night blessing Acton. His gorge rose when he thought of his fleecing, and at this he almost blubbed with rage as he blubbed with gratitude to Acton.
That interesting Shylock, Raffles, was at the farm confidently waiting young Bourne and his coins, and when he saw the young innocent bowling furiously down the road, he sighed with satisfaction. His dream was true.
“Write out the receipt.”
“I’ve already done it, Mr. Bourne.”