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Chapter 8 


It had been a great night for Nutty Boyd. If the vision of his sister Elizabeth, at home at the farm speculating sadly on the whereabouts of her wandering boy, ever came before his mental eye he certainly did not allow it to interfere with his appreciation of the festivities. At Frolics in the Air, whither they moved after draining Reigelheimer's of what joys it had to offer, and at Peale's, where they went after wearying of Frolics in the Air, he was in the highest spirits. It was only occasionally that the recollection came to vex him that this could not last, that--since his Uncle Ira had played him false--he must return anon to the place whence he had come.

Why, in a city of all-night restaurants, these parties ever break up one cannot say, but a merciful Providence sees to it that they do, and just as Lord Dawlish was contemplating an eternity of the company of Nutty and his two companions, the end came. Miss Leonard said that she was tired. Her friend said that it was a shame to go home at dusk like this, but, if the party was going to be broken up, she supposed there was nothing else for it. Bill was too sleepy to say anything.

The Good Sport lived round the corner, and only required Lord Dawlish's escort for a couple of hundred yards. But Miss Leonard's hotel was in the neighbourhood of Washington Square, and it was Nutty's pleasing task to drive her thither. Engaged thus, he received a shock that electrified him.

'That pal of yours,' said Miss Leonard, drowsily--she was half-asleep--'what did you say his name was?'

'Chalmers, he told me. I only met him to-night.'

'Well, it isn't; it's something else. It'--Miss Leonard yawned--'it's Lord something.'

'How do you mean, "Lord something"?'

'He's a lord--at least, he was when I met him in London.'

'Are you sure you met him in London?'

'Of course I'm sure. He was at that supper Captain Delaney gave at Oddy's. There can't be two men in England who dance like that!'

The recollection of Bill's performance stimulated Miss Leonard into a temporary wakefulness, and she giggled.

'He danced just the same way that night in London. I wish I could remember his name. I almost had it a dozen times tonight. It's something with a window in it.'

'A window?' Nutty's brain was a little fatigued and he felt himself unequal to grasping this. 'How do you mean, a window?'

'No, not a window--a door! I knew it was something about a house. I know now, his name's Lord Dawlish.'

Nutty's fatigue fell from him like a garment.

'It can't be!'

'It is.'

Miss Leonard's eyes had closed and she spoke in a muffled voice.

'Are you sure?'

'Mm-mm.'

'By gad!'

Nutty was wide awake now and full of inquiries; but his companion unfortunately was asleep, and he could not put them to her. A gentleman cannot prod a lady--and his guest, at that--in the ribs in order to wake her up and ask her questions. Nutty sat back and gave himself up to feverish thought.

He could think of no reason why Lord Dawlish should have come to America calling himself William Chalmers, but that was no reason why he should not have done so. And Daisy Leonard, who all along had remembered meeting him in London, had identified him.

Nutty was convinced. Arriving finally at Miss Leonard's hotel, he woke her up and saw her in at the door; then, telling the man to drive to the lodgings of his new friend, he urged his mind to rapid thought. He had decided as a first step in the following up of this matter to invite Bill down to Elizabeth's farm, and the thought occurred to him that this had better be done to-night, for he knew by experience that on the morning after these little jaunts he was seldom in the mood to seek people out and invite them to go anywhere.

All the way to the flat he continued to think, and it was wonderful what possibilities there seemed to be in this little scheme of courting the society of the man who had robbed him of his inheritance. He had worked on Bill's feelings so successfully as to elicit a loan of a million dollars, and was just proceeding to marry him to Elizabeth, when the cab stopped with the sudden sharpness peculiar to New York cabs, and he woke up, to find himself at his destination.

Bill was in bed when the bell rang, and received his late host in his pyjamas, wondering, as he did so, whether this was the New York custom, to foregather again after a party had been broken up, and chat till breakfast. But Nutty, it seemed, had come with a motive, not from a desire for more conversation.

'Sorry to disturb you, old man,' said Nutty. 'I looked in to tell you that I was going down to the country to-morrow. I wondered whether you would care to come and spend a day or two with us.'

Bill was delighted. This was better than he had hoped for.

'Rather!' he said. 'Thanks awfully!'

'There are plenty of trains in the afternoon,' said Nutty. 'I don't suppose either of us will feel like getting up early. I'll call for you here at half-past six, and we'll have an early dinner and catch the seven-fifteen, shall we? We live very simply, you know. You won't mind that?'

'My dear chap!'

'That's all right, then,' said Nutty, closing the door. 'Good night.'

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