The Efficiency Expert

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 34

rest.

"I am afraid," he said, "that you don't take it seriously enough
yourself, and that you failed to impress upon him the real gravity of
his condition. It is really necessary that he go--he must go."

The girl looked up quickly at the speaker, whose tones seemed
unnecessarily vehement.

"I don't quite understand," she said, "why you should take the matter so
to heart. Father is the best judge of his own condition, and, while he
may need a rest, I cannot see that he is in any immediate danger."

"Oh, well," replied Bince irritably, "I just wanted him to get away for
his own sake. Of course, it don't mean anything to me."

"What's the matter with you tonight, anyway, Harold?" she asked a half
an hour later. "You're as cross and disagreeable as you can be."

"No, I'm not," he said. "There is nothing the matter with me at all."

But his denial failed to convince her, and as, unusually early, a few
minutes later he left, she realized that she had spent a most unpleasant
evening.

Bince went directly to his club, where he found four other men who were
evidently awaiting him.

"Want to sit in a little game to-night, Harold?" asked one of them.

"Oh, hell," replied Bince, "you fellows have been sitting here all
evening waiting for me. You know I want to. My luck's got to change some
time."

"Sure thing it has," agreed another of the men. "You certainly have
been playing in rotten luck, but when it does change--oh, baby!"

As the five men entered one of the cardrooms several of the inevitable
spectators drew away from the other games and approached their table,
for it was a matter of club gossip that these five played for the
largest stakes of any coterie among the habitues of the card-room.

It was two o'clock in the morning before Bince disgustedly threw his
cards upon the table and rose. There was a nasty expression on his face
and in his mind a thing which he did not dare voice--the final
crystallization of a suspicion that he had long harbored, that his
companions had been for months deliberately fleecing him. Tonight he had
lost five thousand dollars, nor was there a man at the table who did not
hold his I. O. U's. for similar amounts.

"I'm through, absolutely through," he said. "I'll be damned if I ever
touch another card."

His companions only smiled wearily, for they knew that to-morrow night
he would be back at the table.

"How much of old man Compton's money did you get tonight?"

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