The young man hastily removed all doubt on the subject by pocketing the coin.
“Here is my card with my address,” continued Gortsby; “any day this week will do for returning the money, and here is the soap—don’t lose it again it’s been a good friend to you.”
“Lucky thing your finding it,” said the youth, and then, with a catch in his voice, he blurted out a word or two of thanks and fled headlong in the direction of Knightsbridge.
“Poor boy, he as nearly as possible broke down,” said Gortsby to himself. “I don’t wonder either; the relief from his quandary must have been acute. It’s a lesson to me not to be too clever in judging by circumstances.”
As Gortsby retraced his steps past the seat where the little drama had taken place he saw an elderly gentleman poking and peering beneath it and on all sides of it, and recognised his earlier fellow occupant.
“Have you lost anything, sir?” he asked.
“Yes, sir, a cake of soap.”
“I hope you’ve come full of suggestions for Christmas,” said Lady Blonze to her latest arrived guest; “the old-fashioned Christmas and the up-to-date Christmas are both so played out. I want to have something really original this year.”
“I was staying with the Mathesons last month,” said Blanche Boveal eagerly, “and we had such a good idea. Every one in the house-party had to be a character and behave consistently all the time, and at the end of the visit one had to guess what every one’s character was. The one who was voted to have acted his or her character best got a prize.”
“It sounds amusing,” said Lady Blonze.
“I was St. Francis of Assisi,” continued Blanche; “we hadn’t got to keep to our right sexes. I kept getting up in the middle of a meal, and throwing out food to the birds; you see, the chief thing that one remembers of St. Francis is that he was fond of the birds. Every one was so stupid about it, and thought that I was the old man who feeds the sparrows in the Tuileries Gardens. Then Colonel Pentley was the Jolly Miller on the banks of Dee.”
“How on earth did he do that?” asked Bertie van Tahn.
“‘He laughed and sang from morn till night,’” explained Blanche.
“How dreadful for the rest of you,” said Bertie; “and anyway he wasn’t on the banks of Dee.”
“One had to imagine that,” said Blanche.
“If you could imagine all that you might as well imagine cattle on the further bank and keep on calling them home, Mary-fashion, across the sands of Dee. Or you might change the river to the Yarrow and imagine it was on the top of you, and say you were Willie, or whoever it was, drowned in Yarrow.”
“Of course it’s easy to make fun of it,” said Blanche sharply, “but it was extremely interesting and amusing. The prize was rather a fiasco, though. You see, Millie Matheson said her character was Lady Bountiful, and as she was our hostess of course we all had to vote that she had carried out her character better than anyone. Otherwise I ought to have got the prize.”