‘ “My dear Veronique,” said her sisters, “we can’t go following him to race-meetings.”

‘ “Certainly not to race-meeting,” said Veronique, “but we might go to some place where one can look on at gambling without taking part in it.”

‘ “Do you mean Monte Carlo?” they asked her, beginning to jump rather at the idea.

‘ “Monte Carlo is a long way off, and has a dreadful reputation,” said Veronique; “I shouldn’t like to tell our friends that we were going to Monte Carlo. But I believe Roger usually goes to Dieppe about this time of year, and some quite respectable English people go there, and the journey wouldn’t be expensive. If aunt could stand the Channel crossing the change of scene might do her a lot of good.”

‘And that was how the fateful idea came to the Brimley Bomefields.

‘From the very first set-off disaster hung over the expedition, as they afterwards remembered. To begin with, all the Brimley Bomefields were extremely unwell during the crossing, while the aunt enjoyed the sea air and made friends with all manner of strange travelling companions. Then, although it was manner of strange travelling companion, Then, although it was many years since she had been on the Continent, she had served a very practical apprenticeship there as a paid companion, and her knowledge of colloquial French beat theirs to a standstill. It became increasingly difficult to keep under their collective wings a person who knew what she wanted and was able to ask for it and to see that she got it. Also, as far as Roger was concerned, they drew Dieppe blank; it turned out that he was staying at Pourville, a little watering-place a mile or two further west. The Brimley Bomefields discovered that Dieppe was too crowded and frivolous, and persuaded the old lady to migrate to the comparative seclusion of Pourville.

‘ “You won’t find it dull, you know,” they assured her; “there is a little casino attached to the hotel, and you can watch the people dancing and throwing away their money at petits chevaux.’

‘It was just before petits chevaux had been supplanted by boule

‘Roger was not staying in the same hotel, but they knew that the casino would be certain of his patronage on most afternoons and evenings.

‘On the first evening of their visit they wandered into the casino after a fairly early dinner, and hovered near the tables. Bertie van Tahn was staying there at the time, and he described the whole incident to me. The Brimley Bomefields kept a furtive watch on the doors as though they were expecting some one to turn up, and the aunt got more and more amused and interested watching the little horses whirl round and round the board.

‘ “Do you know, poor little number eight hasn’t won for the last thirty-two times,” she said to Christine; “I’ve been keeping count. I shall really have to put five francs on him to encourage him.”

‘ “Come and watch the dancing, dear,” said Christine nervously.

It was scarcely a part of their strategy that Roger should come in and find the old lady backing her fancy at the petits chevaux table.

‘ “Just wait while I put five francs on number eight,” said the aunt, and in another moment her money was lying on the table. The horses commenced to move round; it was a slow race this time, and number eight crept up at the finish like some crafty demon and placed his nose just a fraction in front of number three, who had seemed to be winning easily. Recourse had to be had to measurement, and the number eight was proclaimed the winner. The aunt picked up thirty-five francs. After that the Brimley Bomefields would have had to have used concerted force to get her away from the tables. When Roger appeared on the scene she was fifty-two francs to the good; her nieces were hovering forlornly in the background, like chickens that have been hatched out by a duck and are despairingly watching their parent disporting

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