As these words left Jeekie’s lips Alan became aware of some unusual movement on his left and looking round, saw that Mr. Champers-Haswell, who stood by him, had dropped the cigar which he held and, white as a sheet, was swaying to and fro. Indeed in another instant he would have fallen had not Alan caught him in his arms and supported him till others came to his assistance, when between them they carried him to a sofa. On their way they passed a table where spirits and soda water were set out, and to his astonishment Alan noticed that Sir Robert Aylward, looking little if at all better than his partner, had helped himself to half a tumbler of cognac, which he was swallowing in great gulps. Then there was confusion and someone went to telephone the doctor, while the deep voice of Jeekie was heard exclaiming:
“That Yellow God at work—oh yes, Little Bonsa on the job. Jeekie Christian man but no doubt she very powerful fetish and can do anything she like to them that worship her, and you see, she sit in office of these gentlemen. ’Spect she make Reverend Austin and me bring her to England because she got eye on firm of Messrs. Aylward & Haswell, London, E.C. Oh, shouldn’t wonder at all, for Bonsa know everything.”
“Oh, confound you and your fetish! Be off, you old donkey,” almost shouted Alan.
“Major,” replied the offended Jeekie, assuming his grand manner and language, “it was not I who wished to narrate this history of blood-stained superstitions of poor African. Mustn’t blame old Jeekie if they make Christian gents sick as Channel steamer.”
“Be off,” repeated Alan, stamping his foot.
So Jeekie went, but outside the door, as it chanced, he encountered one of the Jew gentlemen who also appeared to be a little “sick.” An idea striking him, he touched his white hair with his finger and said:
“You like Jeekie’s pretty story, sir? Well, Jeekie think that if you make little present to him, like your brother in there, it please Yellow God very much, and bring you plenty luck.”
Then acting upon some unaccustomed impulse, that Jew became exceedingly generous. In his pocket was a handful of sovereigns which he had been prepared to stake at bridge. He grasped them all and thrust them into Jeekie’s outstretched palm, where they seemed to melt.
“Thank you, sir,” said Jeekie. “Now I sure you have plenty luck, just like your grandpa Jacob in Book when he do his brudder in eye.”
ALAN AND BARBARA
There was no bridge or billiards at the Court that night, where ordinarily the play ran high enough. After Mr. Haswell had been carried to his room, some of the guests, among them Sir Robert Aylward, went to bed, remarking that they could do no good by sitting up, while others, more concerned, waited to hear the verdict of the doctor, who must drive from six miles away. He came, and half an hour later Barbara entered the billiard room and told Alan, who was sitting there smoking, that her uncle had recovered from his faint, and that the doctor, who was to stay all night, said that he was in no danger, only suffering from a heart attack brought on apparently by over-work or excitement.