“As a lesson to you, Irwin—you who always plunge as a madman, and imagine yourself a good player, when you have not the necessary cold blood for gambling.”
“Well,” said Irwin, “that is a story that I will take care goes the round of all the garrisons in India, as an instance of kind comrade-like feeling, so that everyone may be warned against coming along here and being induced to take a hand. I never in my life came across a more despicable story; but it certainly is a lesson for me, that only honourable persons should be—”
“No, Captain Irwin,” said McGregor, standing bolt upright, levelling at his insulter a withering look from his great blue eyes, “you should rather think of your poor wife, whom you would have made a pauper if this game had not been all a hoax.”
Irwin reeled back; the revolver fell from his grasp.
“What,” he gasped—“what do you mean? It was, then, no joke, after all. I, then, really lost the money? Oh, you—you—But what do you take me for? Be quite certain that I will pay. But,” he cried, collecting himself, “I should like to know what the real truth is, after all. I ask this question of you all, and call you rogues and liars if you do not tell me the truth. Have I only really been played with, or has the game been a straightforward one?”
“Captain Irwin,” replied the Major, advancing towards him, “I, as the senior, tell you, in the name of our comrades, that your behaviour would have been unpardonable unless a sort of madness had seized you. The game was a straightforward one, and only the generosity of Captain McGregor—”
Irwin did not wait for the conclusion of the sentence, but, with a bound, was again outside the tent.
A RUSSIAN COMRADE
Hermann Heideck lived in a dak bungalow, one of those hotels kept going by the Government, which afford travellers shelter, but neither bed nor food. On returning home from the camp he found his servant, Morar Gopal, standing at the door ready to receive his master, and was informed that a newcomer had arrived with two attendants. As this dak bungalow was more roomy than most of the others, the new arrivals were able to find accommodation, and Heideck was not obliged, as is usual, to make way as the earlier guest for a later arrival.
“What countryman is the gentleman?” he inquired.
“An Englishman, sahib!”
Heideck entered his room and sat down at the table, upon which, besides the two dim candles, stood a bottle of whisky, a few bottles of soda-water and the inevitable box of cigarettes. He was moody and in a bad humour. The exciting scene in the officers’ mess had affected him greatly, not on account of Captain Irwin, who, from the first moment of their acquaintance, was quite unsympathetic to him, but solely on account of the beautiful young wife of the frivolous officer,