The Honourable Mr. Tawnish (Chapter 3, page 4 of 5)

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Chapter 3

"Did Jack tell thee all that?" says Bentley.

"How should I know else?" says she.

"Lord!" says Bentley.

"And 'twas you caught the bridle, now, wasn't it?" says she, carelessly.

"Why--er--since you mention it,--yes--I suppose so," mumbled Bentley, "oh, yes, certainly I caught the bridle--surprisingly agile in one o' my size, Pen, eh? But egad, the game waits--I must be off, but a kiss first--for saving thy father for thee, Pen."

Waiting for no more, I turned and set off towards the house, but as I once more reached the terrace, up comes Bentley behind me, whistling lustily as usual.

"Why Dick," says he, "where have you sprung from?"

"Bentley," says I, shaking my head, "it's in my mind you've been a vasty fool!"

"For what, Dick?"

"For catching that bridle!" says I. "Why on earth couldn't you be content to let him trip down the steps as we agreed a week ago?"

"Why then, what of Jack's story of Saladin's jibbing--though strike me purple, Dick, if I thought he had enough imagination."

"Do you think he did tell her so?" says I.

"To be sure he did, Dick, unless--"

"Humph!" says I, "let's go and ask him."

Side by side we entered the great hall, and side by side we came to the door of the library; now the door was open, and from within came the sound of Jack's voice.

"I tell thee 'twas nought but a stone, Pen," he was saying, "I say, an ordinary, loose cobble-stone! Good Gad, madam, and why shouldn't it be a cobble-stone? Gentlemen are forever twisting their ankles on cobble-stones! I tell you--" Hereupon Bentley threw open the door, but I entered first.

"No, no, Jack!" I cried, "'twas down the steps--you tripped down the steps at 'The Chequers,' you know you did!"

"Nay, 'twas Saladin jibbed,--don't you remember?" says Bentley.

"Why, Dick and Bentley!" cries Jack, staring from one to the other of us, "what a plague's all this? Don't I know how I hurt my own foot? I say 'twas a cobble-stone, and a cobble-stone it shall be. Lord! how could ye try to fill our maid's pretty head with such folly? Shame on ye both! Why not stick to the truth--and my cobble-stone?"

"And now, dear Sir John," says Pen, very soft and demure, "pray tell me--how did you hurt your foot?"

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