`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.
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