‘By the way,’ said M. Vandeloup, coolly, ’I have not any change in my pocket; you might settle for the supper.’
Meddlechip burst out laughing.
‘Confound your impudence,’ he said, quickly, ’I thought you asked me to supper.’
‘Oh, yes,’ replied Vandeloup, taking his hat and stick, ’but I intended you to pay for it.’
‘You were pretty certain of your game, then?’
‘I always am,’ answered Vandeloup, as the door opened, and Gurchy rolled slowly into the room.
Meddlechip paid the bill without making further objections, and then they both left Leslie’s with the same precautions as had attended their entry. They walked slowly down Bourke Street, and parted at the corner, Meddlechip going to Toorak, while Vandeloup got into a cab and told the man to drive to Richmond, then lit a cigarette and gave himself up to reflection as he drove along.
‘I’ve done a good stroke of business tonight,’ he said, smiling, as he felt the cheque in his pocket, ’and I’ll venture the whole lot on this Magpie reef. If it succeeds I will be rich; if it does not— well, there is always Meddlechip as my banker.’ Then his thoughts went back to Kitty, for the reason of his going home so late was that he wanted to find out in what frame of mind she was.
‘She’ll never leave me,’ he said, with a laugh, as the cab drew up in front of Mrs Pulchop’s house; ’if she does, so much the better for me.’
He dismissed his cab, and let himself in with the latch key; then hanging up his hat in the hall he went straight to the bedroom and lit the gas. He then crossed to the bed, expecting to find Kitty sound asleep, but to his surprise the bed was untouched, and she was not there.
‘Ah!’ he said, quietly, ’so she has gone, after all. Poor little girl, I wonder where she is. I must really look after her to-morrow; at present,’ he said, pulling off his coat, with a yawn, ’I think I’ll go to bed.’
He went to bed, and laying his head on the pillow was soon fast asleep, without even a thought for the girl he had ruined.
THE KEY OF THE STREET
When Kitty left Mrs Pulchop’s residence she had no very definite idea as to what she was going to do with herself. Her sole thought was to get as far away from her former life as possible—to disappear in the crowd and never to be heard of again. Poor little soul, she never for a moment dreamed that it was a case of out of the frying pan into the fire, and that the world at large might prove more cruel to her than Vandeloup in particular. She had been cut to the heart by his harsh cold words, but notwithstanding he had spoken so bitterly she still loved him, and would have stayed beside him, but her jealous pride forbade her to do so. She who had been queen of his heart and the idol of his life could not bear to receive cold looks and careless words, and to be