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A Man of Mark by Anthony Hope

The signorina and I take the leavings


"You

fully understand my position, colonel?" I said. "This thing is no use to me unless I receive at least three hundred and twenty thousand dollars, to pay back principal, to meet interest, and to replace another small debt to the bank. If I do that, I shall be left with a net profit of five thousand dollars, not an extravagant reward. If I don't get that sum I shall be a defaulter, revolution or no revolution."

"I can't make money if it's not there," he said, but without his usual brusqueness of tone. "But to this we agree: You are to have first turn at anything we find, up to the sum you name. It's to be handed over solid to you. The signorina and I take the leavings. You don't claim to share them too, do you?"

"No," I said, "I'm content to be a preference shareholder. If the money's found at the Golden House, it's mine. If not, the new Government, whatever it may do as to the rest of the debt, will pay me that sum."

With that I pushed my money over to the colonel.

"I expect the new Government to be very considerate to the bondholders all round," said the colonel, as he pocketed it with a chuckle. "Anyhow, your terms are agreed; eh, signorina?"

"Agreed!" said she. "And I'm to have the country seat?"

"Agreed!" said I. "And the colonel's to be President and to have the Golden

House and all that therein is."

"Agreed! agreed! agreed!" chanted the signorina; "and that's quite enough business, and it's very late for me to be entertaining gentlemen. One toast, and then good-night. Success to the Revolution! To be drunk in blood-red wine!"

As there was no red wine, except claret, and that lies cold on the stomach at three in the morning, we drank it in French brandy. I had risen to go, when a sudden thought struck me:

"By Jupiter! where's Johnny Carr? I say, colonel, how drunk was he last night? Do you think he remembers telling you about it?"

"Yes," said the colonel, "I expect he does by now. He didn't when I left him this morning."

"Will he confess to the President? If he does, it might make the old man keep an unpleasantly sharp eye on you. He knows you don't love him."

"Well, he hasn't seen the President yet. He was to stay at my house over to-day. He was uncommon seedy this morning, and I persuaded the doctor to give him a composing draught. Fact is, I wanted him quiet till I'd had time to think! You know I don't believe he would own up--the President would drop on him so; but he might, and it's better they shouldn't meet."

"There's somebody else he oughtn't to meet," said the signorina.

"Who's that?" I asked.

"Donna Antonia," she replied. "He's getting very fond of her, and depend upon it, if he's in trouble he'll go and tell her the first thing. Mr. Carr is very confidential to his friends."


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