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   Chapter 4 A GAMBLING PARTY IN ST. JAMES'S CLOSE

Winsome Winnie and other New Nonsense Novels By Stephen Leacock Characters: 3230

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


We must now ask our readers to shift the scene-if they don't mind doing this for us-to the apartments of the Earl of Wynchgate in St. James's Close. The hour is nine o'clock in the evening, and the picture before us is one of revelry and dissipation so characteristic of the nobility of England. The atmosphere of the room is thick with blue Havana smoke such as is used by the nobility, while on the green baize table a litter of counters and cards, in which aces, kings, and even two spots are heaped in confusion, proclaim the reckless nature of the play.

Seated about the table are six men, dressed in the height of fashion, each with collar and white necktie and broad white shirt, their faces stamped with all, or nearly all, of the baser passions of mankind.

Lord Wynchgate-for he it was who sat at the head of the table-rose with an oath, and flung his cards upon the table.

All turned and looked at him, with an oath. "Curse it, Dogwood," he exclaimed, with another oath, to the man who sat beside him. "Take the money. I play no more to-night. My luck is out."

"Ha! ha!" laughed Lord Dogwood, with a third oath, "your mind is not on the cards. Who is the latest young beauty, pray, who so absorbs you? I hear a whisper in town of a certain misadventure of yours--"

"Dogwood," said Wynchgate, clenching his fist, "have a care, man, or you shall measure the length of my sword."

Both noblemen faced each other, their hands upon their swords.

"My lords, my lords!" pleaded a distinguished-looking man of more advanced years, who sat at one side of the table, and in whose features the ha

bitués of diplomatic circles would have recognized the handsome lineaments of the Marquis of Frogwater, British Ambassador to Siam, "let us have no quarrelling. Come, Wynchgate, come, Dogwood," he continued, with a mild oath, "put up your swords. It were a shame to waste time in private quarrelling. They may be needed all too soon in Cochin China, or, for the matter of that," he added sadly, "in Cambodia or in Dutch Guinea."

"Frogwater," said young Lord Dogwood, with a generous flush, "I was wrong. Wynchgate, your hand."

The two noblemen shook hands.

"My friends," said Lord Wynchgate, "in asking you to abandon our game, I had an end in view. I ask your help in an affair of the heart."

"Ha! excellent!" exclaimed the five noblemen. "We are with you heart and soul."

"I propose this night," continued Wynchgate, "with your help, to carry off a young girl, a female!"

"An abduction!" exclaimed the Ambassador somewhat sternly. "Wynchgate, I cannot countenance this."

"Mistake me not," said the Earl, "I intend to abduct her. But I propose nothing dishonourable. It is my firm resolve to offer her marriage."

"Then," said Lord Frogwater, "I am with you."

"Gentlemen," concluded Wynchgate, "all is ready. The coach is below. I have provided masks, pistols, and black cloaks. Follow me."

A few moments later, a coach, with the blinds drawn, in which were six noblemen armed to the teeth, might have been seen, were it not for the darkness, approaching the humble lodging in which Winnifred Clair was sheltered.

But what it did when it got there, we must leave to another chapter.

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