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She put her arm around Pen's waist and the two of them together looked at me, their eyes shining with what perhaps looked like liking, but also with the mischievous feminine superiority of being five or six years older.

At the end of that splendid afternoon the whole party descended together to ground level and made its way to the exit; to the gate that opened onto the main road, and across that to the car park and to the covered walk that led to the station.

"She's not just 'a' pharmacist," she said. "She owns her own place. Half the medics in London recommend her. You're talking to a walking gold mine with a heart like a wet sponge."

Both of his hands were under my chest and I could feel him trying to get space enough to up-end the knife. I pressed down onto him solidly with all my weight and in my mind I was saying "Don't do it, don't do it, you bloody fool"; and I was saying it for his sake, which seemed crazy to me at the time and even crazier in retrospect. He was trying to do me great harm and all I thought about was the trouble he'd be in if he succeeded.

The boy comprehended the situation in a flash. He rolled over onto his feet, crouched for a split second like an athlete at the blocks and without lifting his head above waist-height slithered through the flow of the crowds still pouring out of the gates and disappeared out of sight inside the racecourse. Through there they would never find him. Through there he would escape to the cheaper rings and simply walk out of the lower gate.

I stopped struggling but the policemen didn't let go. They had no thought of chasing the boy. They were incongruously calling me "sir" while treating me with contempt, which if I'd been calm enough for reflection I would have considered fairly normal.

We were both panting but I was taller and stronger and I could have held him there for a good while longer but for the two policemen who had been out on the road directing traffic. They had seen the melee; seen as they supposed a man in morning dress attacking a pedestrian, seen us struggling on the ground. In any case the first I knew of their presence was the feel ofviselike hands fastening onto my arms and pulling me backwards.

"How's your cartoonist?" he said genially. "Are we staking him, or are we not?"

Dissdale's friends returned giggling to disrupt the incautious minute and shortly Gordon, Henry and Lorna crowded in. The whole party pressed out onto the balcony to watch the race, and because it was a time out of reality Burnt Marshmallow romped home by three lengths.

Calderjust ahead of me walked in front, the helmet curls bent kindly over Bettina, the strong voice thanking her and Dissdale for "a most enjoyable time." Dissdale himself, not only fully recovered but incoherent with joy as most of his doubles, trebles and accumulators had come up, patted Calder plumply on the shoulder and invited him over to "my place" for the weekend.

"She's not just 'a' pharmacist," she said. "She owns her own place. Half the medics in London recommend her. You're talking to a walking gold mine with a heart like a wet sponge."

He nodded and smoothly changed the subject. "Lorna and I have won quite a bit today. How about you?"

Calderjust ahead of me walked in front, the helmet curls bent kindly over Bettina, the strong voice thanking her and Dissdale for "a most enjoyable time." Dissdale himself, not only fully recovered but incoherent with joy as most of his doubles, trebles and accumulators had come up, patted Calder plumply on the shoulder and invited him over to "my place" for the weekend.

At the end of that splendid afternoon the whole party descended together to ground level and made its way to the exit; to the gate that opened onto the main road, and across that to the car park and to the covered walk that led to the station.

The rest of the afternoon slid fast away. Henry at some point found himself alone out on the balcony beside me while inside the box the table was being spread with a tea that was beyond my stretched stomach entirely and a temptation from which the ever-hungry Henry had bodily removed himself.

"How's your cartoonist?" he said genially. "Are we staking him, or are we not?"

With a sense of burning bridges I said, "To go ahead."

I resisted with all my might. I didn't know they were policemen. I had eyes only for the boy: his eyes, his hands, his knife.

Henry and Gordon, undoubtedly the most sober of the party, were fiddling in their pockets for car keys and throwing their race cards into wastebins. Judith and Pen were talking to each other and Lorna was graciously unbending to Dissdale's friends. It seemed to be only I, with unoccupied eyes, who saw at all what was about to happen.

Henry laughed aloud. "Your Uncle Freddie," he said, "knows you better than you may think."

At the end of that splendid afternoon the whole party descended together to ground level and made its way to the exit; to the gate that opened onto the main road, and across that to the car park and to the covered walk that led to the station.

Henry and Gordon, undoubtedly the most sober of the party, were fiddling in their pockets for car keys and throwing their race cards into wastebins. Judith and Pen were talking to each other and Lorna was graciously unbending to Dissdale's friends. It seemed to be only I, with unoccupied eyes, who saw at all what was about to happen.

"All right." Henry seemed unalarmed. "Keep me informed."

I jumped almost without thinking; certainly without assessing consequences or chances. Most unbankerlike behavior.

With a sense of burning bridges I said, "To go ahead."

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