“You are very amiable,” insisted P. Sybarite, rising, with a little bow. “But if you care for revenge, I shall be pleased to continue at the other table.”
“Unfortunately that, too, has suspended operations,” returned Penfield. “However, I hope before long to relieve you of your gains.”
Opening the cash drawer, he cleared it completely of its contents, placing before P. Sybarite a tremendous accumulation of bills, old and new, of all denominations, loose and in packages, together with some ten or twelve golden double-eagles.
“I believe you will find that correct,” he observed genially. “Afterwards, I trust you will do me the honour of splitting a bottle with me in the lounge.”
“Delighted,” said P. Sybarite.
Penfield strolled off, exchanged a few words with an acquaintance or two, and a few more with his employees, and went downstairs. The remaining handful of patrons disappeared gradually, yet so quickly that P. Sybarite was a lonely outsider by the time he had finished counting his winnings and stowing them away about his person.
Presenting the croupier with five hundred dollars, he recovered his hat (at last) and descended, to find Penfield awaiting him at the foot of the steps.
Bloated though he was with lawless wealth and fat with insufferable self-satisfaction, P. Sybarite, trotting by the side of his host, was dwarfed alike in dignity and in physique, strongly resembling an especially cocky and ragged Airedale being tolerated by a well-groomed St. Bernard.
Now when Pete had placed a plate of caviare sandwiches between them, and filled their glasses from a newly opened bottle, he withdrew from the lounge and closed the door behind him; whether or not at a sign from Penfield, P. Sybarite was unaware; though as soon as they were alone and private, he grew unpleasantly sensitive to a drop in the temperature of the entente cordiale which had thus far obtained between himself and the gambler. Penfield’s eyes promptly lost much of their genial glow, and simultaneously his face seemed weirdly less plump and rosy with prosperity and contentment. Notwithstanding this, with no loss of manner, he lifted a ceremonious glass to the health of his guest.
“Congratulations!” said he; and drank as a thirsty man drinks.
“May your shadow never grow less!” P. Sybarite returned, putting down an empty glass.
“That’s a perfectly good wish plumb wasted,” said Penfield, refilling both glasses, his features twisted in the wriest of grimaces. “Fact is—I don’t mind telling you—your luck to-night has, I’m afraid, played the very devil with me. This house won’t open up again until I raise another bank-roll.”
“My sympathy,” said P. Sybarite, sipping. “I’m really distressed.... And yet,” he added thoughtfully, “you had no chance—none whatever.”