P. G. Wodehouse: The Man Upstairs and Other Stories


A horrible idea seized him. It had not occurred to him before.

'I say,' he stammered--'I say, I hope you don't think I had run off with your winnings for good! The croupier wouldn't give them up, you know, so I had to grab them and run. They came to exactly two louis. You put on five francs, you know, and you get seven times your stake. I--'

An elderly lady seated on the bench, who had loomed from behind a parasol towards the middle of these remarks, broke abruptly into speech.

'Who is this young man?'

George looked at her, startled. He had hardly been aware of her presence till now. Rapidly he diagnosed her as a mother--or aunt. She looked more like an aunt. Of course, it must seem odd to her, his charging in like this, a perfect stranger, and beginning to chat with her daughter, or niece, or whatever it was. He began to justify himself.

'I met your--this young lady'--something told him that was not the proper way to put it, but hang it, what else could he say?--'at the casino last night.'

He stopped. The effect of his words on the elderly lady was remarkable. Her face seemed to turn to stone and become all sharp points. She stared at the girl.

'So you were gambling at the casino last night?' she said.

She rose from the seat, a frozen statue of displeasure.

'I shall return to the hotel. When you have arranged your financial transactions with your--friend, I should like to speak to you. You will find me in my room.'

George looked after her dumbly.

The girl spoke, in a curiously strained voice, as if she were speaking to herself.

'I don't care,' she said. 'I'm glad.'

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