"Je vous ai battu," he said, with an abominable accent. "Garcong!"
He called the waiter and turned to Philip.
"Just out from England? See any cricket?"
Philip was a little confused at the unexpected question.
"Cronshaw knows the averages of every first-class cricketer for the last twenty years," said Lawson, smiling.
The Frenchman left them for friends at another table, and Cronshaw, with the lazy enunciation which was one of his peculiarities, began to discourse on the relative merits of Kent and Lancashire. He told them of the last test match he had seen and described the course of the game wicket by wicket.
"That's the only thing I miss in Paris," he said, as he finished the bock which the waiter had brought. "You don't get any cricket."
Philip was disappointed, and Lawson, pardonably anxious to show off one of the celebrities of the Quarter, grew impatient. Cronshaw was taking his time to wake up that evening, though the saucers at his side indicated that he had at least made an honest attempt to get drunk. Clutton watched the scene with amusement. He fancied there was something of affectation in Cronshaw's minute knowledge of cricket; he liked to tantalise people by talking to them of things that obviously bored them; Clutton threw in a question.
"Have you seen Mallarme lately?"
Cronshaw looked at him slowly, as if he were turning the inquiry over in his mind, and before he answered rapped on the marble table with one of the saucers.
"Bring my bottle of whiskey," he called out. He turned again to Philip. "I keep my own bottle of whiskey. I can't afford to pay fifty centimes for every thimbleful."
The waiter brought the bottle, and Cronshaw held it up to the light.
"They've been drinking it. Waiter, who's been helping himself to my whiskey?"
"Mais personne, Monsieur Cronshaw."
"I made a mark on it last night, and look at it."
"Monsieur made a mark, but he kept on drinking after that. At that rate Monsieur wastes his time in making marks."
The waiter was a jovial fellow and knew Cronshaw intimately. Cronshaw gazed at him.
"If you give me your word of honour as a nobleman and a gentleman that nobody but I has been drinking my whiskey, I'll accept your statement."
This remark, translated literally into the crudest French, sounded very funny, and the lady at the comptoir could not help laughing.
"Il est impayable," she murmured.
Cronshaw, hearing her, turned a sheepish eye upon her; she was stout, matronly, and middle-aged; and solemnly kissed his hand to her. She shrugged her shoulders.
"Fear not, madam," he said heavily. "I have passed the age when I am tempted by forty-five and gratitude."
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