In a twinkling a glass was in his hand. As if it were so much water—in short, indifferently—P. Sybarite tossed it off.
“And my hat.”
“Yo’ hat?” Pete iterated in surprise. “Yo’ didn’t leaf yo’ hat wif me, suh; yo’ done tek it wif yo’ when yo’ went upstahs.”
“Oh,” murmured P. Sybarite, dashed.
He turned to the door, hesitated, turned back, and solemnly sat himself down.
“Pete,” said he, extending his right foot, “I wish you’d do something for me.”
“Take off my shoe.”
Staring with naif incredulity until assured of the gentleman’s complete seriousness, the negro plumped down upon his knees, unlaced, and removed the shoe.
“It’s a shocking shoe,” observed P. Sybarite dreamily.
Bending forward he tucked his original five-dollar note into the toe of the despised footgear.
“I am not going home broke,” he explained laboriously to Pete; “as I certainly shall if I dare go upstairs again to find my hat.”
“Yo’s sholly sens’ble,” Pete approved. “But they ain’t no reason why yo’ sho’d tek enny mo’ chances ef yo’ don’t wantuh,” he added, knotting the laces. “I’d just as leave’s not go fetch yo’ hat.”
“You needn’t bother,” P. Sybarite returned with dignity.
A humour the most cool and reckless imaginable now possessed P. Sybarite. The first flush of his unaccustomed libations seemed to have worn itself out, his more recent draught to have had no other effect than to steady his gratulate senses; and a certain solid comfort resided in the knowledge that his hard-earned five dollars reposed in safe deposit.
“They can’t get that away from me—not so long as I’m able to kick,” he reflected with huge satisfaction.
And the seven hundred and thirty-five in his pocket was possessed of a devil of restlessness. He could almost feel it quivering with impatience to get into action. After all, it was only seven hundred and thirty-five dollars: not a cent more than the wages of forty-nine weeks’ servitude to the Genius of the Vault of the Smell!
“That,” mused P. Sybarite scornfully, “won’t take me far....
“What,” he argued, “is the use of travelling if you can’t go to the end of the line?...
“I might as well be broke,” he asseverated, “as the way I am!”
Glancing cunningly down his nose, he saw the finish of a fool.
“Anyway,” he insisted, “it was ever my fondest ambition to get rid of precisely seven hundred and thirty-five dollars in one hour by the clock.”
So he sat down at the end of the table of his first winnings, and exchanged one of his seven big bills for one hundred white chips.
“What,” he asked with an ingenious smile, “is the maximum?”
“Seein’s it’s you,” said the croupier, grinning, “we’ll make it twenty a throw.”