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"Higgs!" cried the Hon. Richard Pugeot.

"Sir?" answered a voice from behind the silk curtains cutting off the dressing and bathroom from the bedroom.

"What o'clock is it?"

"Just gone eight, sir."

"Get me some soda-water."

"Yes, sir."

The Hon. Richard lay still.

Higgs, a clean-shaven and smart-looking young man, appeared with a bottle of Schweppes and a tumbler on a salver.

The cork popped and the sufferer drank.

"What o'clock did I come home?"

"After twelve, sir—pretty nigh one."

"Was there anyone with me?"

"No, sir."

"No old gentleman?"

"No, sir."

"Was Randall there?"

"Yes, sir."

"And the car?"

"Yes, sir."

"There was no old gentleman in the car?"

"No, sir."

"Good heavens!" said Pugeot. "What can I have done with him?"

Higgs, not knowing, said nothing, moving about putting things in order and getting his master's bath ready.

"I've lost an old gentleman, Higgs," said Pugeot, for Higgs was a confidential servant as well as a valet.

"Indeed, sir," said Higgs, as though losing old gentlemen was as common as losing umbrellas.

"And the whole business is so funny I can scarcely believe it's true. I haven't a touch of the jim-jams, have I, Higgs?"

"Lord, sir, no! You're all right."

"Am I? See here, Higgs. Yesterday morning I met old Mr. Simon Pettigrew, the lawyer; mind, you are to say nothing about this to anyone—but stay a moment, go into the sitting-room and fetch me Who's Who."

Higgs fetched the book.

"'Pettigrew, Simon,'" read out Pugeot,[Pg 175] with the book resting on his knees, "'Justice of the Peace for Herts—President of the United Law Society—Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries'—h'm, h'm—'Club, Athen?um.' Well, I met the old gentleman in Piccadilly. We went for a spin together, and the last thing I remember was seeing him chasing a stableman round some inn yard, where we had stopped for petrol or whisky or something; chasing him round with a bucket. He was trying to put the bucket over the stableman's head."

"Fresh," said Higgs.

"As you say, fresh—but I want to know, was that an optical illusion? There were other things, too. If it wasn't an optical illusion I want to know what has become of the old gentleman? I'm nervous—for he did me a good turn once, and I hope to heaven I haven't let him in for any bother."

"Well, sir," said Higgs, "I wouldn't worry, not if I were you. It was only his little lark, and most likely he's home safe by this."

"I have also a recollection of two ladies that got mixed up in the affair," went on the other, "but who they were I can't say. Little lark! The bother of it is, Higgs, one can't play little larks like that, safely, if one is a highly respectable person and a J.P. and[Pg 176] a member of the what's-its-name society."

He got up and tubbed and dressed, greatly troubled in his mind. People sucked into the Simon-whirl were generally troubled in their minds, so great is the Power of High Respectability when linked to the follies of youth.

At breakfast Mr. Robert Ravenshaw's card was presented by Higgs.

"Show him in," said Pugeot.

"Hullo, Ravenshaw!" said Pugeot. "Glad to see you. Have you had breakfast?"

"Yes, thanks. I only called for a moment to see you about my uncle."

"Which uncle?"


"Good heavens! You don't say he's——"

Bobby explained.

It was like a millstone removed from Pugeot's neck.

Then he, in his turn, explained.

Then Bobby went i............
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