Afternoon, three weeks later, in the card room of a London Club. A fire is burning, Left. A door, Right, leads to the billiard-room. Rather Left of Centre, at a card table, lord st Erth, an old John Bull, sits facing the audience; to his right is general Canynge, to his left Augustus Borring, an essential Clubman, about thirty-five years old, with a very slight and rather becoming stammer or click in his speech. The fourth Bridge player, Charles Winsor, stands with his back to the fire.
Borring. And the r-rub.
Winsor. By George! You do hold cards, Borring.
St Erth. [Who has lost] Not a patch on the old whist—this game. Don’t know why I play it—never did.
Canynge. St Erth, shall we raise the flag for whist again?
Winsor. No go, General. You can’t go back on pace. No getting a man to walk when he knows he can fly. The young men won’t look at it.
Borring. Better develop it so that t-two can sit out, General.
St Erth. We ought to have stuck to
the old game. Wish I’d gone to
Newmarket, Canynge, in spite of the weather.
Canynge. [Looking at his watch] Let’s
hear what’s won the
Cambridgeshire. Ring, won’t you, Winsor? [Winsor rings.]
St Erth. By the way, Canynge, young De Levis was blackballed.
St Erth. I looked in on my way down.
Canynge sits very still, and Winsor utters a disturbed sound.
Borring. But of c-course he was, General. What did you expect?
A footman enters.
Footman. Yes, my lord?
St Erth. What won the Cambridgeshire?
Footman. Rosemary, my lord. Sherbet second; Barbizon third. Nine to one the winner.
Winsor. Thank you. That’s all.
Borring. Rosemary! And De Levis sold her! But he got a good p-price, I suppose.
The other three look at him.
St Erth. Many a slip between price and pocket, young man.
Canynge. Cut! [They cut].
Borring. I say, is that the yarn that’s going round about his having had a lot of m-money stolen in a country house? By Jove! He’ll be pretty s-sick.
Winsor. You and I, Borring.
He sits down in Canynge’s
chair, and the general takes his place by
Borring. Phew! Won’t Dancy be mad! He gave that filly away to save her keep. He was rather pleased to find somebody who’d take her. Bentman must have won a p-pot. She was at thirty-threes a fortnight ago.