vacancy at the mont-de-piété occurring, she had snatched at it. There was a certain fitness in her working there. Business transactions with that useful institution had always been conducted by her, it being Mr. Warden’s theory that Woman can extract in these crises just that extra franc or two which is denied to the mere male. Through constantly going round, running across, stepping over, and popping down to the mont-de-piété she had established almost a legal claim on any post that might be vacant there.

And under M. Gandinot’s banner she had served ever since.

Five minutes’ walk took her to the Promenade des Anglais, that apparently endless thoroughfare which is Roville’s pride. The evening was fine and warm. The sun shone gaily on the white-walled houses, the bright Gardens, and the two gleaming casinos. But Ruth walked listlessly, blind to the glitter of it all.

Visitors who go to Roville for a few weeks in the winter are apt to speak of the place, on their return, in a manner that conveys the impression that it is a Paradise on earth, with gambling facilities thrown in. But, then, they are visitors. Their sojourn comes to an end. Ruth’s did not.

A voice spoke her name. She turned, and saw her father, dapper as ever, standing beside her.

“What an evening, my dear!” said Mr. Warden. “What an evening! Smell the sea!”

Mr. Warden appeared to be in high spirits. He hummed a tune and twirled his cane. He chirruped frequently to Bill, the companion of his walks abroad, a wiry fox-terrier of a demeanour, like his master’s, both jaunty and slightly disreputable. An air of gaiety pervaded his bearing.

“I called in at the mont-de-piété but you had gone. Gandinot told me you had come here. What an ugly fellow that Gandinot is! But a good sort. I like him. I had a chat with him.”

The high spirits were explained. Ruth knew her father. She guessed, correctly, that M. Gandinot, kindest of pawn-brokers, had obliged, in his unofficial capacity, with a trifling loan.

“Gandinot ought to go on the stage,” went on Mr. Warden, pursuing his theme. “With that face he would make his fortune. You can’t help laughing when you see it. One of these days—”

He broke off. Stirring things had begun to occur in the neighbourhood of his ankles, where Bill, the fox- terrier, had encountered an acquaintance, and, to the accompaniment of a loud, gargling noise, was endeavouring to bite his head off. The acquaintance, a gentleman of uncertain breed, equally willing, was chewing Bill’s paw with the gusto of a gourmet. An Irish terrier, with no personal bias towards either side, was dancing round and attacking each in turn as he came uppermost. And two poodles leaped madly in and out of the melée, barking encouragement.

It takes a better man than Mr. Warden to break up a gathering of this kind. The old gentleman was bewildered. He added his voice to the babel, and twice smote Bill grievously with his cane with blows intended for the acquaintance, but beyond that he effected nothing. It seemed probable that the engagement would last till the combatants had consumed each other, after the fashion of the Kilkenny cats, when there suddenly appeared from nowhere a young man in grey.

The world is divided into those who can stop dog-fights and those who cannot. The young man in grey belonged to the former class. Within a minute from his entrance on the scene the poodles and the Irish terrier had vanished; the dog of doubtful breed was moving off up the hill, yelping, with the dispatch of one who remembers an important appointment, and Bill, miraculously calmed, was seated in the centre of the Promenade, licking honourable wounds.

Mr. Warden was disposed to effervesce with gratitude. The scene had shaken him, and there had been moments when he had given his ankles up for lost.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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