“Bourne, you’ll regret that blow!”
“Never,” said Phil, emphatically, and with cutting contempt. “I have asked Carr to second me. I dare say Vercoe would do the same for you. He has the merit of being a perfectly straightforward fellow, and since he does not go home like the rest to-morrow——”
“Thanks. Vercoe will do excellently. He is a friend of yours, too!”
“I’m glad to say he is.”
“Well, you may now be pretty certain there will be no foul play, whatever else may follow. I’ll teach you wisdom on your front teeth.”
“I dare say,” said Phil, as he coolly stalked out, and left Acton curled up on his chair, like a cobra balancing for its stroke.
A RENEWED FRIENDSHIP
One morning Gus was much astonished to receive a letter containing a blank sheet of notepaper enfolding a postal order for L1. This was properly filled in, payable to A.V.R. Todd at St. Amory’s Post-office, but there was not the slightest clue as to the sender. Gus looked at the blue and white slip in an ecstasy of astonishment. Now, Gus knew that no one was aware of his bankrupt exchequer save Cotton, and he knew that Jim was not likely to have said anything about it for one or two very good reasons, and would now keep it darker than ever. If it were known that Gus had been practically pilloried for being penniless by the fellow who had lifted his cash, Cotton would have heard a few fancy remarks on his own conduct which would have made his ears tingle. Gus pondered over this problem of the sender until he felt giddy, but he finally came to the conclusion that Cotton had regretted his polite attentions to an old friend, and had sent the order as a kind of amende honorable. Gus instantly regretted the fervent wishes about the boiling oil and the public kicking for Jim Cotton, and he also determined to go and thank his old patron for what he was sure was his anonymous gift.
So, after breakfast, he cashed the order and, with pockets heavier with coin than they had been for some time, he went to Jim Cotton’s room. Jim received him with an odd mixture of anger and shame, and when Gus handed over to him two half-crowns, Cotton in some confusion, told him to hand them over to Philips, who had initiated the subscription for the Penfold tablet.
“Thought you were the secretary?” said Gus.
“No! I’m out of the boat now. Philips is the man,” said Cotton, sulkily.
“And, by the way, Jim, it wasn’t half bad of you to send me that order. It was no end brickish, especially after I had left you more or less in the lurch.”
“What order?” said Jim, looking curiously at Gus.
“What’s the good of trying to pass it off like that, old man? It could only be you.”
“I don’t know what you’re driving at. You seem to be talking rot,” said Cotton, angrily, for he fancied that Gus was fooling him in some way.