“It’s much too kind of you. Could you manage eleven shillings?”
“Easily. I’ve just had a legacy.”
“Of course, if you think I ought to be economical, I’ll go third-class. That would only be five shillings. Ten-and-six is the first-class fare. So you see the place I want to get to is two hours from London.”
“Well, that’s something to know.”
“But not much, is it?”
“I think I had better lend you a sovereign. Then you’ll be able to buy a lunch-basket.”
“You think of everything. And you’re perfectly right. I shall be starving. But how do you know you will get the money back?”
“I’ll risk it.”
“Well, then, I shall have to be inquisitive and ask your name. Otherwise I shan’t know where to send the money.”
“Oh, there’s no mystery about me. I’m an open book.”
“You needn’t be horrid about it. I can’t help being mysterious.”
“I didn’t mean that.”
“It sounded as if you did. Well, who is my benefactor?”
“My name is George Bevan. I am staying at the Carlton at present.”
The taxi moved slowly down the Haymarket. The girl laughed.
“Yes?” said George.
“I was only thinking of back there. You know, I haven’t thanked you nearly enough for all you did. You were wonderful.”
“I’m very glad I was able to be of any help.”
“What did happen? You must remember I couldn’t see a thing except your back, and I could only hear indistinctly.”
“Well, it started by a man galloping up and insisting that you had got into the cab. He was a fellow with the appearance of a before-using advertisement of an anti-fat medicine and the manners of a ring-tailed chimpanzee.”
The girl nodded.
“Then it was Percy! I knew I wasn’t mistaken.”
“That is his name.”
“It would be! I could have betted on it.”
“What happened then?”
“I reasoned with the man, but didn’t seem to soothe him, and finally he made a grab for the door-handle, so I knocked off his hat, and while he was retrieving it we moved on and escaped.”
The girl gave another silver peal of laughter.
“Oh, what a shame I couldn’t see it. But how resourceful of you! How did you happen to think of it?”
“It just came to me,” said George modestly.
A serious look came into the girl’s face. The smile died out of her eyes. She shivered.
“When I think how some men might have behaved in your place!”
“Oh, no. Any man would have done just what I did. Surely, knocking off Percy’s hat was an act of simple courtesy which anyone would have performed automatically!”
“You might have been some awful bounder. Or, what would have been almost worse, a slow-witted idiot who would have stopped to ask questions before doing anything. To think I should have had the luck to pick you out of all London!”