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A Hero of Romance by Richard Marsh

Jenkins held the steaming tumbler towards him


stout man grinned. Bertie staggered. The sudden change from the sweet, fresh air to the hot, close room gave him a sudden qualm. If the stout man had not caught him he would have fallen to the floor.

"Steady! Where do you think you're coming to? You're a nice young chap, you are! If I was you I'd turn teetotal."

Sam Slater interfered.

"You don't know anything at all about it; he's not been drinking; he's been got at, and some one's cleared him of his cash."

"You leave him to me, Jenkins," said the stout lady.

For Bertie had swooned. As easily as though he had been a baby, instead of being the great lad that he was, she lifted him and carried him to another room. When he opened his eyes again he found that he was lying on a brilliantly counterpaned bed. Sam was seated on the edge, the lady was standing by the side, and Mr. Jenkins, a steaming tumbler in his hand, was leaning over the rail at his head.

"Better?" inquired the lady, perceiving that his eyes were open.

For answer Bertie sat up and looked about him. It was a little room, smaller than the other, and cooler, owing to the absence of a fire.

"Take a swig of this; that'll do you good."

Mr. Jenkins held the steaming

tumbler towards him. Bertie shrank away.

"It's only peppermint, made with my own hands, so I can guarantee it's good. A barrel of it wouldn't do you harm. Drink up, sonny!"

Thus urged by the lady, he took the glass and drank. It certainly revived him, making him feel less dull and heavy; but a curious sense of excitement came instead. In the state in which he was even peppermint had a tendency to fly to his head. Perceiving his altered looks the lady went on,--

"Didn't I tell you it would do you good? Now you feel another man."

Then she continued, in a tone which Bertie, if he had the senses about him, would have called wheedling--

"Anybody can see that you're a gentleman, and not used to such a place as this. You are a little gentleman, ain't you now?"

Bertie took another drink before he replied. The steaming hot peppermint was restoring him to his former heroic state of mind.

"I should think I am a gentleman; I should like to see anybody say I wasn't."

Either this remark, or the manner of its delivery, made Mr. Jenkins laugh.

"Oh lor!" he said, "here's a three-foot-sixer!"

"Never mind him, my dear," observed the lady, "he knows no better. I knows a gentleman when I sees one, and directly I set eyes on you I says, 'he's a gentleman he is.' And did they rob you of your money?"

"Some one's robbed me of five pounds."

This was not said in quite such a heroic tone as the former remark. The memory of that five pounds haunted him.

"Poor, dear, young gentleman, think of that now. And was the money your own, my dear?"

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