Excerpt from A Case of Suicide in St. James’s, coming soon:
‘This is rather dull. I think we ought to liven things up a bit,’ announced Gertie, as they stumbled a little unsteadily around the floor.
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well, now that Doug isn’t on the scene any more, I’m temporarily unencumbered,’ said Gertie. ‘As are you, I believe. I propose a contest to see who can collect the most scalps this evening. Hearts may be broken, but never our own. And no great aunts—kisses on the cheek don’t count. The loser to pay the winner fifty pounds.’
‘I don’t have fifty pounds.’
‘Nor do I, for that matter. Well, then, you shall shout me dinner, just for the look of the thing.’
‘Full of yourself, aren’t you?’ said Freddy. ‘That’s assuming you win.’
‘Of course I’m going to win.’
Freddy cast an assessing glance around the room at likely possibilities. There were plenty of pretty girls of his acquaintance within easy approaching distance, several of whom he knew could generally be relied upon not to snub him. He thought he stood a fair chance.
‘We haven’t done this in a while,’ he said. ‘Don’t you think we’re getting a little old for it?’
‘You might be,’ said Gertie with dignity. ‘I shall be young forever. I expect I’ll still be doing this when I’m fifty.’
‘I expect you will, and God help us all,’ said Freddy.
‘Oh, go on, it’ll be fun. But we’ll have to handicap it. You’d better give me a two-point head start.’
‘Why, it’s easier for you, as long as you don’t mind a slap in the face, because you can just swoop in. I have to be more subtle about it, and wait to be swooped in on.’
‘I never swoop in without permission, and I most certainly do mind a slap in the face. In fact, I think you ought to give me the head start, because nobody’s going to wallop you, are they?’
Gertie waved a hand expressively, and the handicap was eventually conceded to her advantage.