`How do you know?'

`Oh,' said Dawes, `I reckon he spent th' night --'

There was a good deal of laughter at Paul's expense.

`But who was she? D'you know her?' asked the mutual friend.

`I should shay sho,' said Dawes.

This brought another burst of laughter.

`Then spit it out,' said the mutual friend.

Dawes shook his head, and took a gulp of beer.

`It's a wonder he hasn't let on himself,' he said. `He'll be braggin' of it in a bit.'

`Come on, Paul,' said the friend; `it's no good. You might just as well own up.'

`Own up what? That I happened to take a friend to the theatre?'

`Oh well, if it was all right, tell us who she was, lad,' said the friend.

`She was all right,' said Dawes.

Paul was furious. Dawes wiped his golden moustache with his fingers, sneering.

`Strike me -- ! One o' that sort?' said the mutual friend.

`Paul, boy, I'm surprised at you. And do you know her, Baxter?'

`Just a bit, like!'

He winked at the other men.

`Oh well,' said Paul, `I'll be going!'

The mutual friend laid a detaining hand on his shoulder.

`Nay,' he said, `you don't get off as easy as that, my lad. We've got to have a full account of this business.'

`Then get it from Dawes!' he said.

`You shouldn't funk your own deeds, man,' remonstrated the friend.

Then Dawes made a remark which caused Paul to throw half a glass of beer in his face.

`Oh, Mr Morel!' cried the barmaid, and she rang the bell for the `chucker-out'.

Dawes spat and rushed for the young man. At that minute a brawny fellow with his shirt-sleeves rolled up and his trousers tight over his haunches intervened.

`Now, then!' he said, pushing his chest in front of Dawes.

`Come out!' cried Dawes.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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