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‘Yes . . . yes, I want to learn all right.’

‘Well, that’s settled,’ she had said. ‘We know now where we stand, don’t we?’ And then she had smiled at him, after which she had rung the bell, and when Jessie opened the door she had said, ‘We’ll have some refreshment now, Jessie https://www.onlinecasinoitaliani.com/recensioni/leovegas/.’

And that was the pattern he followed on the days he didn’t go to Hexham or Gateshead or over the water to Wallsend to cast an eye over her interests, until two months ago, when the pattern had changed and she began to accompany him.

Journeying by train, they would sit side by side in the first-class carriage. He helped her in and out of cabs, he opened doors for her, he obeyed her commands in all ways, except that he would refuse her invitation to stay for a meal after he had delivered the takings of an evening, or when they had returned from one of their supervising trips. The reason he gave was a truthful one, his brother expected him, he was alone.

When he first gave her this reason she looked at him with a sideward glance and asked, ‘How old is your brother?’

‘Coming up twenty.’

‘Twenty! And he needs your protection at nights?’

And he answered flatly and stiffly, ‘Yes, he does. Only last week a boat he had started to build was smashed up to bits, and it could be him next.’

‘Oh!’ She showed interest. Did you inform the police?’

‘No.’

‘Have you any idea who did it, and why?’

‘Yes, both; I know who did it, and why. There’s a family on the river who run the wherries, three brothers called Pittie . . .’

‘Ah! Ah! the Pitties.’ She had nodded her head.

‘You’ve heard of them?’

Markus Weber

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