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Beasts and Super-Beasts

The Stake
"RONNIE is a great trial to me," said Mrs. Attray plaintively. "Only eighteen years old
last February and already a confirmed gambler. I am sure I don't know where he inherits
it from; his father never touched cards, and you know how little I play - a game of bridge
on Wednesday afternoons in the winter, for three-pence a hundred, and even that I
shouldn't do if it wasn't that Edith always wants a fourth and would be certain to ask that
detestable Jenkinham woman if she couldn't get me. I would much rather sit and talk any
day than play bridge; cards are such a waste of time, I think. But as to Ronnie, bridge and
baccarat and poker-patience are positively all that he thinks about. Of course I've done
my best to stop it; I've asked the Norridrums not to let him play cards when he's over
there, but you might as well ask the Atlantic Ocean to keep quiet for a crossing as expect
them to bother about a mother's natural anxieties."
"Why do you let him go there?" asked Eleanor Saxelby.
"My dear," said Mrs. Attray, "I don't want to offend them. After all, they are my
landlords and I have to look to them for anything I want done about the place; they were
very accommodating about the new roof for the orchid house. And they lend me one of
their cars when mine is out of order; you know how often it gets out of order."
"I don't know how often," said Eleanor, "but it must happen very frequently. Whenever I
want you to take me anywhere in your car I am always told that there is something wrong
with it, or else that the chauffeur has got neuralgia and you don't like to ask him to go
out."
"He suffers quite a lot from neuralgia," said Mrs. Attray hastily. "Anyhow," she
continued, "you can understand that I don't want to offend the Norridrums. Their
household is the most rackety one in the county, and I believe no one ever knows to an
hour or two when any particular meal will appear on the table or what it will consist of
when it does appear."
Eleanor Saxelby shuddered. She liked her meals to be of regular occurrence and assured
proportions.
"Still," pursued Mrs. Attray, "whatever their own home life may be, as landlords and
neighbours they are considerate and obliging, so I don't want to quarrel with them.
Besides, if Ronnie didn't play cards there he'd be playing somewhere else."
"Not if you were firm with him," said Eleanor "I believe in being firm."
"Firm? I am firm," exclaimed Mrs. Attray; "I am more than firm - I am farseeing. I've
done everything I can think of to prevent Ronnie from playing for money. I've stopped
his allowance for the rest of the year, so he can't even gamble on credit, and I've
subscribed a lump sum to the church offertory in his name instead of giving him
 
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