فصل 11

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فصل 11

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Chapter eleven

The morning of November 2nd was wet and gloomy. Iris sat at the dining room table, pushing uneaten food around her plate. George read his newspaper, while Lucilla wept into a handkerchief. ‘Victor wouldn’t say it was a matter of life and death if it wasn’t,’ she wailed.

‘I’ve said I’ll see to it, Lucilla,’ snapped George.

‘I know. But a delay might be fatal. Your inquiries will take time, and he says he needs the money “without fail by the 3rd”. Which is tomorrow.’

‘Don’t worry, Aunt,’ said Iris. ‘George will fix it. He always does.’

George got up and patted Mrs Drake kindly on the back as he walked past her chair. ‘Cheer up, my dear. I’ll get Ruth to send a telegram immediately.’

Iris followed him out into the hall. ‘George, shall we cancel the party tonight? Aunt Lucilla is so upset. Shouldn’t we stay at home with her? ‘ ‘Certainly not! Why should that damned villain upset our lives? It’s blackmail, and Lucilla’s a fool. If Victor had been forced to save himself from disaster, just once, it would have done him a great deal of good. But I’ll get something arranged before tonight so that she can go to bed happy.’

As he walked out of the front door, the hall telephone rang and Iris went over to answer it.

‘Hello? Anthony!’ She smiled in delight.

‘The man himself. Have you been talking to George?’

‘What do you mean? ‘

‘Well, he insisted I come to your birthday party tonight. I thought perhaps you had something to do with it? ‘

‘No…

‘What’s the matter, darling? I can hear you sighing through the telephone.’

‘It’s nothing.’

‘Tell me, my sweet.’

‘I can’t!’

‘I’ll see you tonight, then. I suppose George knows what he’s doing, but it seems madness to me.’

They said goodbye and ended the call, and Iris returned to the dining room to reassure her aunt.


George arrived at his office, and sent for Ruth Lessing at once. ‘Trouble again, Ruth. Look,’ he said as she arrived.

She took the telegram he held out. ‘Victor Drake!’

‘Yes, unfortunately it is from him. Wasn’t it a year ago that we sent him to Buenos Aires?’

‘It was October 27th.’

Ruth had a good reason for remembering. It was after returning from her meeting with Victor Drake that she had listened to Rosemary’s careless voice on the telephone and realized that she hated her.

‘We’re lucky that he’s lasted as long as he has out there,’ George observed.

‘Three hundred pounds is a lot of money.’

‘Oh, he won’t get that much. We’ll make the usual investigations. Send Ogilvie a telegram.’ Alexander Ogilvie was George’s business agent in Buenos Aires.

‘I’ll do it at once.’


Ruth returned to George’s office after lunch, with bad news. ‘I’m afraid that Victor has been stealing money. Mr Ogilvie has just telephoned to say that the senior partner in the firm has agreed not to prosecute Victor if he repays the money. The sum is one hundred and sixty-five pounds.’

‘So Victor was hoping to profit by one hundred and thirty- five pounds?’

‘I’m afraid so. I told Mr Ogilvie to go ahead and pay the money back. Was that right?’

‘Personally I would be happy to send him to prison, but we must consider his mother. So, Master Victor wins as usual.’

‘You’re a very good man,’ said Ruth.

Pleased, and embarrassed, he picked up her hand and kissed it. ‘Dearest Ruth. What would I do without you?’

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