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'I certainly would. By my halidom, I would! I would spend that money with a vim and speed that would make your respected ancestor, the Beau, look like a village miser.'

'You wouldn't--er--pop over to America and see whether something couldn't be arranged?'

'I mean--suppose you were popping in any case. Suppose you had happened to buy a ticket for New York on to-morrow's boat, wouldn't you try to get in touch with this girl when you got to America, and see if you couldn't--er--fix up something?'

Jerry Nichols looked at him in honest consternation. He had always known that old Bill was a dear old ass, but he had never dreamed that he was such an infernal old ass as this.

'You aren't thinking of doing that?' he gasped.

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'Well, you see, it's a funny coincidence, but I was going to America, anyhow, to-morrow. I don't see why I shouldn't try to fix up something with this girl.'

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'What do you mean--fix up something? You don't suggest that you should give the money up, do you?'

'I don't know. Not exactly that, perhaps. How would it be if I gave her half, what? Anyway, I should like to find out about her, see if she's hard up, and so on. I should like to nose round, you know, and--er--and so forth, don't you know. Where did you say the girl lived?'

'I didn't say, and I'm not sure that I shall. Honestly, Bill, you mustn't be so quixotic.'

'There's no harm in my nosing round, is there? Be a good chap and give me the address.'

'Well'--with misgivings--'Brookport, Long Island.'

'Bill, are you really going to make a fool of yourself?'

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'Not a bit of it, old chap. I'm just going to--er--'

'To nose round?'

'To nose round,' said Bill.

Jerry Nichols accompanied his friend to the door, and once more peace reigned in the offices of Nichols, Nichols, Nichols, and Nichols.

The time of a man who has at a moment's notice decided to leave his native land for a sojourn on foreign soil is necessarily taken up with a variety of occupations; and it was not till the following afternoon, on the boat at Liverpool, that Bill had leisure to write to Claire, giving her the news of what had befallen him. He had booked his ticket by a Liverpool boat in preference to one that sailed from Southampton because he had not been sure how Claire would take the news of his sudden decision to leave for America. There was the chance that she might ridicule or condemn the scheme, and he preferred to get away without seeing her. Now that he had received this astounding piece of news from Jerry Nichols he was relieved that he had acted in this way. Whatever Claire might have thought of the original scheme, there was no doubt at all what she would think of his plan of seeking out Elizabeth Boyd with a view to dividing the legacy with her.