“A trifle elaborate, sir, is it not?” he said.

Rollo thumped the counterpane.

“I knew you’d say that. That’s what nine fellows out of ten would say. They’d want to rush it. I tell you, Wilson, old scout, you can’t rush it.”

Wilson brooded awhile, his mind back in the passionate past.

“In Market Bumpstead, sir—”

“What the deuce is Market Bumpstead?”

“A village, sir, where I lived until I came to London.”


“In Market Bumpstead, sir, the prevailing custom was to escort the young lady home from church, buy her some little present—some ribbons, possibly—next day, take her for a walk, and kiss her, sir.”

Wilson’s voice, as he unfolded these devices of the dashing youth of Market Bumpstead, had taken on an animation quite unsuitable to a conscientious valet. He gave the impression of a man who does not depend on idle rumour for his facts. His eye gleamed unprofessionally for a moment before resuming its habitual expression of quiet introspection.

Rollo shook his head.

“That sort of thing might work in a village,” he said, “but you want something better for London.”

Rollo Finch—in the present unsatisfactory state of the law parents may still christen a child Rollo—was a youth to whom Nature had given a cheerful disposition not marred by any superfluity of brain. Everyone liked Rollo—the great majority on sight, the rest as soon as they heard that he would be a millionaire on the death of his Uncle Andrew. There is a subtle something, a sort of nebulous charm, as it were, about young men who will be millionaires on the death of their Uncle Andrew which softens the ruggedest misanthrope.

Rollo’s mother had been a Miss Galloway, of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.; and Andrew Galloway, the world-famous Braces King, the inventor and proprietor of the inimitable “Tried and Proven,” was her brother. His braces had penetrated to every corner of the earth. Wherever civilization reigned you would find men wearing Galloway’s “Tried and Proven.”

Between Rollo and this human benefactor there had always existed friendly relations, and it was an open secret that, unless his uncle were to marry and supply the world with little Galloways as well as braces, the young man would come into his money.

So Rollo moved on his way through life, popular and happy. Always merry and bright. That was Rollo.

Or nearly always. For there were moments—we all have our greyer moments—when he could have wished that Mr. Galloway had been a trifle older or a trifle less robust. The Braces potentate was at present passing, in excellent health, through the Indian summer of life. He was, moreover, as has been stated, by birth and residence a Pittsburg man. And the tendency of middle-aged Pittsburg millionaires to marry chorus-girls is notoriously like the homing instinct of pigeons. Something—it may be the smoke—seems to work on them like a charm.

In the case of Andrew Galloway, Nature had been thwarted up till now by the accident of an unfortunate attachment in early life. The facts were not fully known, but it was generally understood that his fiancée

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