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‘Be careful, Connor, be careful. Mind who you’re speaking to. You know what happens to cheeky individuals; there’s never an empty place that cannot be filled. I know that you’re finished at one, and damned lucky you are to be finished at one, but you should have been back here before one and your book settled, and then you could have been finished at one onlinecasinosvizzera.com. And what’s the matter with you?’ He was now glaring at John George. ‘You sick or something?’

John George gulped, shook his head, and remained standing where he was on the threshold of the door.

And this caused Mr Kean to yell, ‘Well, come in, man! What’s come over you? Close the door before we’re all blown out. And let me have your books; I want to get away.’

With this, Mr Kean turned about and went through a door into another room. The door was half glass, but it was clear glass, clear in order that the master could look through it at any time and see that his two clerks weren’t idling at their desks.

‘What is it? What’s the matter?’ Rory had taken hold of John George’s shoulder. ‘You look like death, what is it?’

John George gulped twice in his throat before he whispered, ‘Lend . . . lend me ten bob.’

‘Lend you ten bob?’

‘Aye. Look, just for now, I’ll have it for you Monday mornin’. Just . . . just lend it me. Aw, Rory, lend it me. For God’s sake, lend it me.’

Rory looked towards the glass door and as he put his hand into his pocket, he hissed, ‘You were paid last night.’

‘Aye, I know, but I’ll explain, I’ll explain in a minute or two.’ The hand he held out was trembling and when Rory put the gold half sovereign on to the palm John George’s fingers pressed over it tightly for a moment before swiftly dropping it into the leather bag which he still held in his hand.

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