“I mean what I say,” said Dawkins, desperately, “Gambling debts are not recognizable in law.”
“Nothing is said about it’s being a gambling debt. I have your note.”
“Which is worth nothing, since I am a minor.”
Duval’s face became black with rage.
“Aha, my friend,” said he showing his teeth, “this is a very nice game to cheat me out of my money. But it won’t do, it won’t do.”
“Why won’t it?”
“I shall say a word in your father’s ear, mon ami, and in the ear of your worthy employer whom you were so anxious for me not to see, and perhaps that would be worse for you than to pay me my money.”
Dawkins’s brief exultation passed away. He saw that he was indeed in the power of an unscrupulous man, who was disposed to push his advantage to the utmost.
He subsided into a moody silence, which Duval watched with satisfaction.
“Well, my friend, what will you do about it?”
“I don’t know what I can do.”
“You will think of something. You will find it best,” said the Frenchman, in a tone which veiled a threat.
“I will try,” said Dawkins, gloomily.
“That is well. I thought you would listen to reason, mon ami. Now we will have a pleasant chat. Hold, I will order some brandy myself.”
“Not for me,” said Dawkins, rising from his chair, “I must be going.”
“Will you not have one little game?” asked Duval, coaxingly.
“No, no, I have had enough of that. Goodnight.”
“Then you won’t stop. And when shall I have the pleasure of seeing you at my little apartment once more?”
“I don’t know.”
“If it is any trouble to you to come, I will call at your office,” said Duval, significantly.
“Don’t trouble yourself,” said Dawkins, hastily; “I will come here a week from today.”
“A week is a long time.”
“Long or short, I must have it.”
“Very well, mon ami. A week let it be. Good-night. Mind the stairs as you go down.”
Dawkins breathed more freely as he passed out into the open air. He was beginning to realize that the way of the transgressor is hard.
A trap is laid for Paul.
Three months before, George Dawkins had made his first visit to a gambling house. At first, he had entered only from curiosity. He watched the play with an interest which gradually deepened, until he was easily persuaded to try his own luck. The stakes were small, but fortune favored him, and he came out some dollars richer than he entered. It would have been fortunate for him if he had failed. As it was, his good fortune encouraged him to another visit. This time he was less fortunate, but his gains about balanced his losses, so that he came out even. On the next occasion he left off with empty pockets. So it went on until at length he fell into the hands of Duval, who had no scruple in fleecing him to as great an extent as he could be induced to go.