The Swindler and Other Stories

Ethel May Dell
The Swindler and Other Stories

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Ethel M. Dell
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Title: The Swindler and Other Stories
Author: Ethel M. Dell

Release Date: June 21, 2006 [eBook #18644]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
E-text prepared by Suzanne Shell, Mary Meehan, and the Project
Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team


Author of the Hundredth Chance, Etc.

Grosset & Dunlap Publishers New York Made in the United States of
This edition is issued under arrangement with the publishers G. P.
Putnam's Sons, New York and London The Knickerbocker Press, New
The stories contained in this volume were originally published in the
Red Magazine.

The Swindler
The Swindler's Handicap
The Nonentity
Her Hero
The Example
The Friend who Stood By
The Right Man
The Knight-Errant
A Question of Trust

Where the Heart Is

* * * * *

The Swindler
"When you come to reflect that there are only a few planks between
you and the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, it makes you feel sort of
"I beg your pardon?"
The stranger, smoking his cigarette in the lee of the deck-cabins, turned
his head sharply in the direction of the voice. He encountered the wide,
unembarrassed gaze of a girl's grey eyes. She had evidently just come
up on deck.
"I beg yours," she rejoined composedly. "I thought at first you were
some one else."
He shrugged his shoulders, and turned away. Quite obviously he was
not disposed to be sociable upon so slender an introduction.
The girl, however, made no move to retreat. She stood thoughtfully
tapping on the boards with the point of her shoe.
"Were you playing cards last night down in the saloon?" she asked
"I was looking on."
He threw the words over his shoulder, not troubling to turn.
The girl shivered. The morning air was damp and chill.
"You do a good deal of that, Mr.--Mr.--" She paused suggestively.

But the man would not fill in the blank. He smoked on in silence.
The vessel was rolling somewhat heavily, and the splash of the drifting
foam reached them occasionally where they stood. There were no other
ladies in sight. Suddenly the clear, American voice broke through the
man's barrier of silence.
"I know quite well what you are, you know. You may just as well tell
me your name as leave me to find it out for myself."
He looked at her then for the first time, keenly, even critically. His
clean-shaven mouth wore a very curious expression.
"My name is West," he said, after a moment.
She nodded briskly.
"Your professional name, I suppose. You are a professional, of
His eyes continued to watch her narrowly. They were blue eyes,
piercingly, icily blue.
"Why 'of course,' if one may ask?"
She laughed a light, sweet laugh, inexpressibly gay. Cynthia Mortimer
could be charmingly inconsequent when she chose.
"I don't think you are a bit clever, you know," she said. "I knew what
you were directly I saw you standing by the gangway watching the
people coming on board. You looked really professional then, just as if
you didn't care a red cent whether you caught your man or not. I knew
you did care though, and I was ready to dance when I knew you hadn't
got him. Think you'll track him down on our side?"
West turned his eyes once more upon the heaving, grey water,
carelessly flicking the ash from his cigarette.
"I don't think," he said briefly. "I know."

"You--know?" The wide eyes opened wider, but they gathered no
information from the unresponsive profile that smoked the cigarette.
"You know where Mr. Nat Verney is?" she breathed, almost in a
whisper. "You don't say! Then--then you weren't really watching out
for him at the gangway?"
He jerked up his head with an enigmatical laugh.
"My methods are not so simple as that," he said.
Cynthia joined quite generously in his laugh, notwithstanding its hard
note of ridicule. She had become keenly interested in this man, in spite
of--possibly in consequence of--the rebuffs he so unsparingly
administered. She was not accustomed to rebuffs, this girl with her
delicate, flower-like beauty. They held for her something of the charm
of novelty, and abashed her not at all.
"And you really think you'll catch him?" she questioned, a note of
honest regret in
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