Page 18

The million pound banknote


There was still another guest, an American - but I am a little ahead of my story. While the people were still in the drawing-room, whetting up their appetites for dinner, and coldly inspecting the latecomers, the servant announced a Mr. Lloyd Hastings. The moment the usual civilities were over, Hastings caught sight of me, and came straight with cordially outstretched hand; then stopped short when about to shake, and said, with an embarrassed look:

'I beg your pardon, sir, I thought I knew you. Are you the - the ...'.

'Vest-pocket monster? I am, indeed. Don't be afraid to call me by my nickname; I'm used to it.'

'Well, well, this is a surprise. Once or twice I've seen your own name coupled with the nickname, but it never occurred to me that you could be the Henry Adams referred to. Why, it isn't six months since you were clerking away for Blake Hopkins in Frisco on a salary, and staying up nights on a second job, helping me arrange and verify the Gould and Curry Extension papers and statistics. The idea of your being in London, and a vast millionaire, and a colossal celebrity! Why, it's the Arabian Nights come again. Man, I can't take it in at all; can't realize it; give me time to settle the whirl in my head.'


Whetting: Sharpening
Latecomers: The last people to arrive
Civilities: Expected polite behaviour
Cordial: Friendly
Vest-pocket: A small pocket in a waistcoat
Coupled: Put together with
Clerking: Working in an office
Verify: Check something is true
Colossal: Very large indeed

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