Then remembering that at the worst Anscombe stood to lose nothing, I shrugged my shoulders and held my tongue. It was Marnham’s deal, and although he was somewhat in the shadow of the hanging lamp and the candles had guttered out, I distinctly saw him play some hocus-pocus with the cards, but in the circumstances made no protest. As it chanced he must have hocus-pocused them wrong, for though his hand was full of trumps, Rodd held nothing at all. The battle that ensued was quite exciting, but the end of it was that an ace in the hand of Anscombe, who really was quite a good player, did the business, and we won again.
In the rather awful silence that followed Anscombe remarked in his cheerful drawl—
“I’m not sure that my addition is quite right; we’ll check that in the morning, but I make out that you two gentlemen owe Quatermain and myself #749 10s.”
Then the doctor broke out.
“You accursed old fool,” he hissed—there is no other word for it—at Marnham. “How are you going to pay all this money that you have gambled away, drunken beast that you are!”
“Easily enough, you felon,” shouted Marnham. “So,” and thrusting his hand into his pocket he pulled out a number of diamonds which he threw upon the table, adding, “there’s what will cover it twice over, and there are more where they came from, as you know well enough, my medical jailbird.”
“You dare to call me that,” gasped the doctor in a voice laden with fury, so intense that it had deprived him of his reason, “you—you—murderer! Oh! why don’t I kill you as I shall some day?” and lifting his glass, which was half full, he threw the contents into Marnham’s face.
“That’s a nice man for a prospective, son-in-law, isn’t he?” exclaimed the old scamp, as, seizing the brandy decanter, he hurled it straight at Rodd’s head, only missing him by an inch.
“Don’t you think you had both better go to bed, gentlemen?” I inquired. “You are saying things you might regret in the morning.”
Apparently they did think it, for without another word they rose and marched off in different directions to their respective rooms, which I heard both of them lock. For my part I collected the I.O.U.’s; also the diamonds which still lay upon the table, while Anscombe examined the cards.
“Marked, by Jove!” he said. “Oh! my dear Quatermain, never have I had such an amusing evening in all my life.”
“Shut up, you silly idiot,” I answered. “There’ll be murder done over this business, and I only hope it won’t be on us.”