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P. G. Wodehouse
My Man Jeeves 06
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VI

RALLYING ROUND OLD GEORGE


I think one of the rummiest affairs I was ever mixed up with, in the
course of a lifetime devoted to butting into other people's business,
was that affair of George Lattaker at Monte Carlo. I wouldn't bore you,
don't you know, for the world, but I think you ought to hear about it.

We had come to Monte Carlo on the yacht CIRCE, belonging to an
old sportsman of the name of Marshall. Among those present were myself,
my man Voules, a Mrs. Vanderley, her daughter Stella, Mrs. Vanderley's
maid Pilbeam and George.

George was a dear old pal of mine. In fact, it was I who had worked him
into the party. You see, George was due to meet his Uncle Augustus, who
was scheduled, George having just reached his twenty-fifth birthday, to
hand over to him a legacy left by one of George's aunts, for which he
had been trustee. The aunt had died when George was quite a kid. It was
a date that George had been looking forward to; for, though he had a
sort of income--an income, after-all, is only an income, whereas a
chunk of o' goblins is a pile. George's uncle was in Monte Carlo, and
had written George that he would come to London and unbelt; but it
struck me that a far better plan was for George to go to his uncle at
Monte Carlo instead. Kill two birds with one stone, don't you know. Fix
up his affairs and have a pleasant holiday simultaneously. So George
had tagged along, and at the time when the trouble started we were
anchored in Monaco Harbour, and Uncle Augustus was due next day.

* * * * *

Looking back, I may say that, so far as I was mixed up in it, the
thing began at seven o'clock in the morning, when I was aroused from
a dreamless sleep by the dickens of a scrap in progress outside my
state-room door. The chief ingredients were a female voice that sobbed
and said: "Oh, Harold!" and a male voice "raised in anger," as they say,
which after considerable difficulty, I identified as Voules's. I hardly
recognized it. In his official capacity Voules talks exactly like you'd
expect a statue to talk, if it could. In private, however, he evidently
relaxed to some extent, and to have that sort of thing going on in my
midst at that hour was too much for me.

"Voules!" I yelled.

Spion Kop ceased with a jerk. There was silence, then sobs diminishing
in the distance, and finally a tap at the door. Voules entered with
that impressive, my-lord-the-carriage-waits look which is what I pay
him for. You wouldn't have believed he had a drop of any sort of
emotion in him.

"Voules," I said, "are you under the delusion that I'm going to be
Queen of the May? You've called me early all right. It's only just
seven."

"I understood you to summon me, sir."

"I summoned you to find out why you were making that infernal noise
outside."

"I owe you an apology, sir. I am afraid that in the heat of the moment
I raised my voice."

"It's a wonder you didn't raise the roof. Who was that with you?"

"Miss Pilbeam, sir; Mrs. Vanderley's maid."

"What was all the trouble about?"

"I was breaking our engagement, sir."

I couldn't help gaping. Somehow one didn't associate Voules with
engagements. Then it struck me that I'd no right to butt in on his
secret sorrows, so I switched the conversation.

"I think I'll get up," I said.

"Yes, sir."

"I can't wait to breakfast with the rest. Can you get me some right
away?"

"Yes, sir."

So I had a solitary breakfast and went up on deck to smoke. It was
a lovely morning. Blue sea, gleaming Casino, cloudless sky, and all
the rest of the hippodrome. Presently the others began to trickle up.
Stella Vanderley was one of the first. I thought she looked a bit
pale and tired. She said she hadn't slept well. That accounted for
it. Unless you get your eight hours, where are you?

"Seen George?" I asked.

I couldn't help thinking the name seemed to freeze her a bit. Which was
queer, because all the voyage she and George had been particularly
close pals. In fact, at any moment I expected George to come to me and
slip his little hand in mine, and whisper: "I've done it, old scout;
she loves muh!"

"I have not seen Mr. Lattaker," she said.

I didn't pursue the subject. George's stock was apparently low that
a.m.

The next item in the day's programme occurred a few minutes later when
the morning papers arrived.

Mrs. Vanderley opened hers and gave a scream.

"The poor, dear Prince!" she said.

"What a shocking thing!" said old Marshall.

"I knew him in Vienna," said Mrs. Vanderley. "He waltzed divinely."

Then I got at mine and saw what they were talking about. The paper was
full of it. It seemed that late the night before His Serene Highness
the Prince of Saxburg-Leignitz (I always wonder why they call these
chaps "Serene") had been murderously assaulted in a dark street on
his way back from the Casino to his yacht. Apparently he had developed
the habit of going about without an escort, and some rough-neck, taking
advantage of this, had laid for him and slugged him with considerable
vim. The Prince had been found lying pretty well beaten up and insensible
in the street by a passing pedestrian, and had been taken back to his
yacht, where he still lay unconscious.

"This is going to do somebody no good," I said. "What do you get for
slugging a Serene Highness? I wonder if they'll catch the fellow?"

"'Later,'" read old Marshall, "'the pedestrian who discovered His
Serene Highness proves to have been Mr. Denman Sturgis, the eminent
private investigator. Mr. Sturgis has offered his services to the
police, and is understood to be in possession of a most important
clue.' That's the fellow who had charge of that kidnapping case in
Chicago. If anyone can catch the man, he can."

About five minutes later, just as the rest of them were going to move
off to breakfast, a boat hailed us and came alongside. A tall, thin man
came up the gangway. He looked round the group, and fixed on old
Marshall as the probable owner of the yacht.

"Good morning," he said. "I believe you have a Mr. Lattaker on
board--Mr. George Lattaker?"

"Yes," said Marshall. "He's down below. Want to see him? Whom shall I
say?"

"He would not know my name. I should like to see him for a moment on
somewhat urgent business."

"Take a seat. He'll be up in a moment. Reggie, my boy, go and hurry him
up."

I went down to George's state-room.

"George, old man!" I shouted.

No answer. I opened the door and went in. The room was empty. What's
more, the bunk hadn't been slept in. I don't know when I've been more
surprised. I went on deck.

"He isn't there," I said.

"Not there!" said old Marshall. "Where is he, then? Perhaps he's gone
for a stroll ashore. But he'll be back soon for breakfast. You'd better
wait for him. Have you breakfasted? No? Then will you join us?"

The man said he would, and just then the gong went and they trooped
down, leaving me alone on deck.

I sat smoking and thinking, and then smoking a bit more, when I thought
I heard somebody call my name in a sort of hoarse whisper. I looked
over my shoulder, and, by Jove, there at the top of the gangway in
evening dress, dusty to the eyebrows and without a hat, was dear old
George.

"Great Scot!" I cried.

"'Sh!" he whispered. "Anyone about?"

"They're all down at breakfast."

He gave a sigh of relief, sank into my chair, and closed his eyes. I
regarded him with pity. The poor old boy looked a wreck.

"I say!" I said, touching him on the shoulder.

He leaped out of the chair with a smothered yell.

"Did you do that? What did you do it for? What's the sense of it? How
do you suppose you can ever make yourself popular if you go about
touching people on the shoulder? My nerves are sticking a yard out of
my body this morning, Reggie!"

"Yes, old boy?"

"I did a murder last night."

"What?"

"It's the sort of thing that might happen to anybody. Directly Stella
Vanderley broke off our engagement I----"

"Broke off your engagement? How long were you engaged?"

"About two minutes. It may have been less. I hadn't a stop-watch. I
proposed to her at ten last night in the saloon. She accepted me. I was
just going to kiss her when we heard someone coming. I went out. Coming
along the corridor was that infernal what's-her-name--Mrs. Vanderley's
maid--Pilbeam. Have you ever been accepted by the girl you love,
Reggie?"

"Never. I've been refused dozens----"

"Then you won't understand how I felt. I was off my head with joy. I
hardly knew what I was doing. I just felt I had to kiss the nearest
thing handy. I couldn't wait. It might have been the ship's cat. It
wasn't. It was Pilbeam."

"You kissed her?"

"I kissed her. And just at that moment the door of the saloon opened
and out came Stella."

"Great Scott!"

"Exactly what I said. It flashed across me that to Stella, dear girl,
not knowing the circumstances, the thing might seem a little odd. It
did. She broke off the engagement, and I got out the dinghy and rowed
off. I was mad. I didn't care what became of me. I simply wanted to
forget. I went ashore. I--It's just on the cards that I may have drowned
my sorrows a bit. Anyhow, I don't remember a thing, except that I can
recollect having the deuce of a scrap with somebody in a dark street
and somebody falling, and myself falling, and myself legging it for all
I was worth. I woke up this morning in the Casino gardens. I've lost my
hat."

I dived for the paper.

"Read," I said. "It's all there."

He read.

"Good heavens!" he said.

"You didn't do a thing to His Serene Nibs, did you?"

"Reggie, this is awful."

"Cheer up. They say he'll recover."

"That doesn't matter."

"It does to him."

He read the paper again.

"It says they've a clue."

"They always say that."

"But--My hat!"

"Eh?"

"My hat. I must have dropped it during the scrap. This man, Denman
Sturgis, must have found it. It had my name in it!"

"George," I said, "you mustn't waste time. Oh!"

He jumped a foot in the air.

"Don't do it!" he said, irritably. "Don't bark like that. What's the
matter?"

"The man!"

"What man?"

"A tall, thin man with an eye like a gimlet. He arrived just before you
did. He's down in the saloon now, having breakfast. He said he wanted
to see you on business, and wouldn't give his name. I didn't like the
look of him from the first. It's this fellow Sturgis. It must be."

"No!"

"I feel it. I'm sure of it."

"Had he a hat?"

"Of course he had a hat."

"Fool! I mean mine. Was he carrying a hat?"

"By Jove, he WAS carrying a parcel. George, old scout, you must
get a move on. You must light out if you want to spend the rest of your
life out of prison. Slugging a Serene Highness is LESE-MAJESTE.
It's worse than hitting a policeman. You haven't got a moment to
waste."

"But I haven't any money. Reggie, old man, lend me a tenner or
something. I must get over the frontier into Italy at once. I'll wire
my uncle to meet me in----"

"Look out," I cried; "there's someone coming!"

He dived out of sight just as Voules came up the companion-way,
carrying a letter on a tray.

"What's the matter!" I said. "What do you want?"

"I beg your pardon, sir. I thought I heard Mr. Lattaker's voice. A
letter has arrived for him."

"He isn't here."

"No, sir. Shall I remove the letter?"

"No; give it to me. I'll give it to him when he comes."

"Very good, sir."

"Oh, Voules! Are they all still at breakfast? The gentleman who came to
see Mr. Lattaker? Still hard at it?"

"He is at present occupied with a kippered herring, sir."

"Ah! That's all, Voules."

"Thank you, sir."

He retired. I called to George, and he came out.

"Who was it?"

"Only Voules. He brought a letter for you. They're all at breakfast
still. The sleuth's eating kippers."

"That'll hold him for a bit. Full of bones." He began to read his
letter. He gave a kind of grunt of surprise at the first paragraph.

"Well, I'm hanged!" he said, as he finished.

"Reggie, this is a queer thing."

"What's that?"

He handed me the letter, and directly I started in on it I saw why he
had grunted. This is how it ran:

"My dear George--I shall be seeing you to-morrow, I hope; but I
think it is better, before we meet, to prepare you for a curious
situation that has arisen in connection with the legacy which
your father inherited from your Aunt Emily, and which you are
expecting me, as trustee, to hand over to you, now that you have
reached your twenty-fifth birthday. You have doubtless heard
your father speak of your twin-brother Alfred, who was lost or
kidnapped--which, was never ascertained--when you were both
babies. When no news was received of him for so many years, it
was supposed that he was dead. Yesterday, however, I received a
letter purporting that he had been living all this time in Buenos
Ayres as the adopted son of a wealthy South American, and has
only recently discovered his identity. He states that he is on
his way to meet me, and will arrive any day now. Of course, like
other claimants, he may prove to be an impostor, but meanwhile
his intervention will, I fear, cause a certain delay before I can
hand over your money to you. It will be necessary to go into a
thorough examination of credentials, etc., and this will take
some time. But I will go fully into the matter with you when we
meet.--Your affectionate uncle,

"AUGUSTUS ARBUTT."

I read it through twice, and the second time I had one of those ideas I
do sometimes get, though admittedly a chump of the premier class. I
have seldom had such a thoroughly corking brain-wave.

"Why, old top," I said, "this lets you out."

"Lets me out of half the darned money, if that's what you mean. If this
chap's not an imposter--and there's no earthly reason to suppose he is,
though I've never heard my father say a word about him--we shall have
to split the money. Aunt Emily's will left the money to my father, or,
failing him, his 'offspring.' I thought that meant me, but apparently
there are a crowd of us. I call it rotten work, springing unexpected
offspring on a fellow at the eleventh hour like this."

"Why, you chump," I said, "it's going to save you. This lets you out of
your spectacular dash across the frontier. All you've got to do is to
stay here and be your brother Alfred. It came to me in a flash."

He looked at me in a kind of dazed way.

"You ought to be in some sort of a home, Reggie."

"Ass!" I cried. "Don't you understand? Have you ever heard of
twin-brothers who weren't exactly alike? Who's to say you aren't
Alfred if you swear you are? Your uncle will be there to back you
up that you have a brother Alfred."

"And Alfred will be there to call me a liar."

"He won't. It's not as if you had to keep it up for the rest of your
life. It's only for an hour or two, till we can get this detective
off the yacht. We sail for England to-morrow morning."

At last the thing seemed to sink into him. His face brightened.

"Why, I really do believe it would work," he said.

"Of course it would work. If they want proof, show them your mole. I'll
swear George hadn't one."

"And as Alfred I should get a chance of talking to Stella and making
things all right for George. Reggie, old top, you're a genius."

"No, no."

"You ARE."

"Well, it's only sometimes. I can't keep it up."

And just then there was a gentle cough behind us. We spun round.

"What the devil are you doing here, Voules," I said.

"I beg your pardon, sir. I have heard all."

I looked at George. George looked at me.

"Voules is all right," I said. "Decent Voules! Voules wouldn't give us
away, would you, Voules?"

"Yes, sir."

"You would?"

"Yes, sir."

"But, Voules, old man," I said, "be sensible. What would you gain by
it?"

"Financially, sir, nothing."

"Whereas, by keeping quiet"--I tapped him on the chest--"by holding
your tongue, Voules, by saying nothing about it to anybody, Voules, old
fellow, you might gain a considerable sum."

"Am I to understand, sir, that, because you are rich and I am poor, you
think that you can buy my self-respect?"

"Oh, come!" I said.

"How much?" said Voules.

So we switched to terms. You wouldn't believe the way the man haggled.
You'd have thought a decent, faithful servant would have been delighted
to oblige one in a little matter like that for a fiver. But not Voules.
By no means. It was a hundred down, and the promise of another hundred
when we had got safely away, before he was satisfied. But we fixed it
up at last, and poor old George got down to his state-room and changed
his clothes.

He'd hardly gone when the breakfast-party came on deck.

"Did you meet him?" I asked.

"Meet whom?" said old Marshall.

"George's twin-brother Alfred."

"I didn't know George had a brother."

"Nor did he till yesterday. It's a long story. He was kidnapped in
infancy, and everyone thought he was dead. George had a letter from his
uncle about him yesterday. I shouldn't wonder if that's where George
has gone, to see his uncle and find out about it. In the meantime,
Alfred has arrived. He's down in George's state-room now, having a
brush-up. It'll amaze you, the likeness between them. You'll think it
IS George at first. Look! Here he comes."

And up came George, brushed and clean, in an ordinary yachting suit.

They were rattled. There was no doubt about that. They stood looking at
him, as if they thought there was a catch somewhere, but weren't quite
certain where it was. I introduced him, and still they looked doubtful.

"Mr. Pepper tells me my brother is not on board," said George.

"It's an amazing likeness," said old Marshall.

"Is my brother like me?" asked George amiably.

"No one could tell you apart," I said.

"I suppose twins always are alike," said George. "But if it ever came
to a question of identification, there would be one way of
distinguishing us. Do you know George well, Mr. Pepper?"

"He's a dear old pal of mine."

"You've been swimming with him perhaps?"

"Every day last August."

"Well, then, you would have noticed it if he had had a mole like this
on the back of his neck, wouldn't you?" He turned his back and stooped
and showed the mole. His collar hid it at ordinary times. I had seen it
often when we were bathing together.

"Has George a mole like that?" he asked.

"No," I said. "Oh, no."

"You would have noticed it if he had?"

"Yes," I said. "Oh, yes."

"I'm glad of that," said George. "It would be a nuisance not to be able
to prove one's own identity."

That seemed to satisfy them all. They couldn't get away from it. It
seemed to me that from now on the thing was a walk-over. And I think
George felt the same, for, when old Marshall asked him if he had had
breakfast, he said he had not, went below, and pitched in as if he
hadn't a care in the world.

Everything went right till lunch-time. George sat in the shade on the
foredeck talking to Stella most of the time. When the gong went and the
rest had started to go below, he drew me back. He was beaming.

"It's all right," he said. "What did I tell you?"

"What did you tell me?"

"Why, about Stella. Didn't I say that Alfred would fix things for
George? I told her she looked worried, and got her to tell me what the
trouble was. And then----"

"You must have shown a flash of speed if you got her to confide in you
after knowing you for about two hours."

"Perhaps I did," said George modestly, "I had no notion, till I became
him, what a persuasive sort of chap my brother Alfred was. Anyway, she
told me all about it, and I started in to show her that George was a
pretty good sort of fellow on the whole, who oughtn't to be turned down
for what was evidently merely temporary insanity. She saw my point."

"And it's all right?"

"Absolutely, if only we can produce George. How much longer does that
infernal sleuth intend to stay here? He seems to have taken root."

"I fancy he thinks that you're bound to come back sooner or later, and
is waiting for you."

"He's an absolute nuisance," said George.

We were moving towards the companion way, to go below for lunch,
when a boat hailed us. We went to the side and looked over.

"It's my uncle," said George.

A stout man came up the gangway.

"Halloa, George!" he said. "Get my letter?"

"I think you are mistaking me for my brother," said George. "My name is
Alfred Lattaker."

"What's that?"

"I am George's brother Alfred. Are you my Uncle Augustus?"

The stout man stared at him.

"You're very like George," he said.

"So everyone tells me."

"And you're really Alfred?"

"I am."

"I'd like to talk business with you for a moment."

He cocked his eye at me. I sidled off and went below.

At the foot of the companion-steps I met Voules,

"I beg your pardon, sir," said Voules. "If it would be convenient I
should be glad to have the afternoon off."

I'm bound to say I rather liked his manner. Absolutely normal. Not a
trace of the fellow-conspirator about it. I gave him the afternoon off.

I had lunch--George didn't show up--and as I was going out I was
waylaid by the girl Pilbeam. She had been crying.

"I beg your pardon, sir, but did Mr. Voules ask you for the afternoon?"

I didn't see what business if was of hers, but she seemed all worked up
about it, so I told her.

"Yes, I have given him the afternoon off."

She broke down--absolutely collapsed. Devilish unpleasant it was. I'm
hopeless in a situation like this. After I'd said, "There, there!"
which didn't seem to help much, I hadn't any remarks to make.

"He s-said he was going to the tables to gamble away all his savings
and then shoot himself, because he had nothing left to live for."

I suddenly remembered the scrap in the small hours outside my
state-room door. I hate mysteries. I meant to get to the bottom of
this. I couldn't have a really first-class valet like Voules going
about the place shooting himself up. Evidently the girl Pilbeam was
at the bottom of the thing. I questioned her. She sobbed.

I questioned her more. I was firm. And eventually she yielded up the
facts. Voules had seen George kiss her the night before; that was the
trouble.

Things began to piece themselves together. I went up to interview George.
There was going to be another job for persuasive Alfred. Voules's mind
had got to be eased as Stella's had been. I couldn't afford to lose a
fellow with his genius for preserving a trouser-crease.

I found George on the foredeck. What is it Shakespeare or somebody says
about some fellow's face being sicklied o'er with the pale cast of
care? George's was like that. He looked green.

"Finished with your uncle?" I said.

He grinned a ghostly grin.

"There isn't any uncle," he said. "There isn't any Alfred. And there
isn't any money."

"Explain yourself, old top," I said.

"It won't take long. The old crook has spent every penny of the
trust money. He's been at it for years, ever since I was a kid. When
the time came to cough up, and I was due to see that he did it, he
went to the tables in the hope of a run of luck, and lost the last
remnant of the stuff. He had to find a way of holding me for a while
and postponing the squaring of accounts while he got away, and he
invented this twin-brother business. He knew I should find out sooner
or later, but meanwhile he would be able to get off to South America,
which he has done. He's on his way now."

"You let him go?"

"What could I do? I can't afford to make a fuss with that man Sturgis
around. I can't prove there's no Alfred when my only chance of avoiding
prison is to be Alfred."

"Well, you've made things right for yourself with Stella Vanderley,
anyway," I said, to cheer him up.

"What's the good of that now? I've hardly any money and no prospects.
How can I marry her?"

I pondered.

"It looks to me, old top," I said at last, "as if things were in a bit
of a mess."

"You've guessed it," said poor old George.

I spent the afternoon musing on Life. If you come to think of it, what
a queer thing Life is! So unlike anything else, don't you know, if you
see what I mean. At any moment you may be strolling peacefully along,
and all the time Life's waiting around the corner to fetch you one. You
can't tell when you may be going to get it. It's all dashed puzzling.
Here was poor old George, as well-meaning a fellow as ever stepped,
getting swatted all over the ring by the hand of Fate. Why? That's what
I asked myself. Just Life, don't you know. That's all there was about
it.

It was close on six o'clock when our third visitor of the day arrived.
We were sitting on the afterdeck in the cool of the evening--old
Marshall, Denman Sturgis, Mrs. Vanderley, Stella, George, and I--when
he came up. We had been talking of George, and old Marshall was
suggesting the advisability of sending out search-parties. He was
worried. So was Stella Vanderley. So, for that matter, were George and
I, only not for the same reason.

We were just arguing the thing out when the visitor appeared. He was a
well-built, stiff sort of fellow. He spoke with a German accent.

"Mr. Marshall?" he said. "I am Count Fritz von Coeslin, equerry to His
Serene Highness"--he clicked his heels together and saluted--"the
Prince of Saxburg-Leignitz."

Mrs. Vanderley jumped up.

"Why, Count," she said, "what ages since we met in Vienna! You
remember?"

"Could I ever forget? And the charming Miss Stella, she is well, I
suppose not?"

"Stella, you remember Count Fritz?"

Stella shook hands with him.

"And how is the poor, dear Prince?" asked Mrs. Vanderley. "What a
terrible thing to have happened!"

"I rejoice to say that my high-born master is better. He has regained
consciousness and is sitting up and taking nourishment."

"That's good," said old Marshall.

"In a spoon only," sighed the Count. "Mr. Marshall, with your
permission I should like a word with Mr. Sturgis."

"Mr. Who?"

The gimlet-eyed sportsman came forward.

"I am Denman Sturgis, at your service."

"The deuce you are! What are you doing here?"

"Mr. Sturgis," explained the Count, "graciously volunteered his
services----"

"I know. But what's he doing here?"

"I am waiting for Mr. George Lattaker, Mr. Marshall."

"Eh?"

"You have not found him?" asked the Count anxiously.

"Not yet, Count; but I hope to do so shortly. I know what he looks like
now. This gentleman is his twin-brother. They are doubles."

"You are sure this gentleman is not Mr. George Lattaker?"

George put his foot down firmly on the suggestion.

"Don't go mixing me up with my brother," he said. "I am Alfred. You can
tell me by my mole."

He exhibited the mole. He was taking no risks.

The Count clicked his tongue regretfully.

"I am sorry," he said.

George didn't offer to console him,

"Don't worry," said Sturgis. "He won't escape me. I shall find him."

"Do, Mr. Sturgis, do. And quickly. Find swiftly that noble young man."

"What?" shouted George.

"That noble young man, George Lattaker, who, at the risk of his life,
saved my high-born master from the assassin."

George sat down suddenly.

"I don't understand," he said feebly.

"We were wrong, Mr. Sturgis," went on the Count. "We leaped to the
conclusion--was it not so?--that the owner of the hat you found was
also the assailant of my high-born master. We were wrong. I have heard
the story from His Serene Highness's own lips. He was passing down a
dark street when a ruffian in a mask sprang out upon him. Doubtless he
had been followed from the Casino, where he had been winning heavily.
My high-born master was taken by surprise. He was felled. But before he
lost consciousness he perceived a young man in evening dress, wearing
the hat you found, running swiftly towards him. The hero engaged the
assassin in combat, and my high-born master remembers no more. His
Serene Highness asks repeatedly, 'Where is my brave preserver?' His
gratitude is princely. He seeks for this young man to reward him. Ah,
you should be proud of your brother, sir!"

"Thanks," said George limply.

"And you, Mr. Sturgis, you must redouble your efforts. You must search
the land; you must scour the sea to find George Lattaker."

"He needn't take all that trouble," said a voice from the gangway.

It was Voules. His face was flushed, his hat was on the back of his
head, and he was smoking a fat cigar.

"I'll tell you where to find George Lattaker!" he shouted.

He glared at George, who was staring at him.

"Yes, look at me," he yelled. "Look at me. You won't be the first this
afternoon who's stared at the mysterious stranger who won for two hours
without a break. I'll be even with you now, Mr. Blooming Lattaker. I'll
learn you to break a poor man's heart. Mr. Marshall and gents, this
morning I was on deck, and I over'eard 'im plotting to put up a game on
you. They'd spotted that gent there as a detective, and they arranged
that blooming Lattaker was to pass himself off as his own twin-brother.
And if you wanted proof, blooming Pepper tells him to show them his
mole and he'd swear George hadn't one. Those were his very words. That
man there is George Lattaker, Hesquire, and let him deny it if he can."

George got up.

"I haven't the least desire to deny it, Voules."

"Mr. Voules, if YOU please."

"It's true," said George, turning to the Count. "The fact is, I had
rather a foggy recollection of what happened last night. I only
remembered knocking some one down, and, like you, I jumped to
the conclusion that I must have assaulted His Serene Highness."

"Then you are really George Lattaker?" asked the Count.

"I am."

"'Ere, what does all this mean?" demanded Voules.

"Merely that I saved the life of His Serene Highness the Prince of
Saxburg-Leignitz, Mr. Voules."

"It's a swindle!" began Voules, when there was a sudden rush and the
girl Pilbeam cannoned into the crowd, sending me into old Marshall's
chair, and flung herself into the arms of Voules.

"Oh, Harold!" she cried. "I thought you were dead. I thought you'd shot
yourself."

He sort of braced himself together to fling her off, and then he seemed
to think better of it and fell into the clinch.

It was all dashed romantic, don't you know, but there ARE limits.

"Voules, you're sacked," I said.

"Who cares?" he said. "Think I was going to stop on now I'm a gentleman
of property? Come along, Emma, my dear. Give a month's notice and get
your 'at, and I'll take you to dinner at Ciro's."

"And you, Mr. Lattaker," said the Count, "may I conduct you to the
presence of my high-born master? He wishes to show his gratitude to his
preserver."

"You may," said George. "May I have my hat, Mr. Sturgis?"

There's just one bit more. After dinner that night I came up for a
smoke, and, strolling on to the foredeck, almost bumped into George and
Stella. They seemed to be having an argument.

"I'm not sure," she was saying, "that I believe that a man can be so
happy that he wants to kiss the nearest thing in sight, as you put it."

"Don't you?" said George. "Well, as it happens, I'm feeling just that
way now."

I coughed and he turned round.

"Halloa, Reggie!" he said.

"Halloa, George!" I said. "Lovely night."

"Beautiful," said Stella.

"The moon," I said.

"Ripping," said George.

"Lovely," said Stella.

"And look at the reflection of the stars on the----"

George caught my eye. "Pop off," he said.

I popped.


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