It would be unfair at this point not to spend some time considering the position of Roy Anderson. One must believe him happy: happy in his choice of wife, for Pamela Beesly had been (despite the shyness that lent her conversation the sense of intense and singular confidence that made her every whisper an attraction to those who knew her) the belle of the Cambridgeshire set, and the most eligible young lady he had ever met before their mutual relocation to London. It was naturally not to be supposed that he was any less than equal to her in station; while he could boast no baronetcy or knighthood, no famous name or connexion to the upper ranks of the nobility, his family was well enough off, and as the local earl and his dependents were in continuous residence in London themselves, the Andersons stood for local gentry in the typical social calendar of the Cambridgeshire countryside. And even if they had not, Roy Anderson was the kind of man to make a name for himself without intending to: a dab hand at the reins, though a bit of a hard-goer; a county boxing champion thrice over; the kind of cricketer who had been invited three towns over to Cambridge proper as a ringer in the annual contest of town over gown, and who had logged a century in bringing the townfolk their first victory over the matriculated in recent memory; in short, the nonpareil of a certain set, seemingly chiseled by divinity for masculine exploits. As such, and given his relative position in the local countryside, there had been no doubt of his ability to choose whichsoever young lady might happen to catch his fancy—nor any doubt from a young age of which lady that might be. True, certain mothers of certain other daughters in the shire might have expressed at one time or another some surprise that Pamela Beesly should so singularly captivate young Mr. Anderson, but there was never any surprise even from those quarters that she should at least interest him, nor any great wonder in the neighbourhood of whether they would see the two young folks tied together someday soon. Though that soon had lingered into years, yet there was little down back in Cambridge, nor none in Roy Anderson’s heart, that it would nevertheless come to pass in the fullness of time, if not perhaps so swiftly as had once been supposed.
One of the reasons for this, if Pam had but known it, was the game that Roy was currently engaged in. His friend Darryl had set up a faro bank, and Roy was playing it. He had begun the evening on a streak of luck—he always seemed to begin evenings in this manner—but now he found himself somewhat in the dumps, being obliged not yet to push himself towards Point Non Plus or the issuance of self-incriminating paper chits, but certainly to an uneasy remembrance of the fact that the bank always won. He was always certain that he was but one good game off from having the capital to set himself and Pam up as he had always intended to, but he was equally never able to pull off that good game—nor to remember, as Darryl had, that if the bank always won the solution might well be to be the bank and not the player. He was too wily to be caught in one of the notorious gambling hells of the city, but not cunning enough to avoid the same vices in the prettier paint of his friend’s front parlor; too wise to play with those he did not know, but not thoughtful enough to realize that if he did not know the loser at the table it was himself.
Yet he was happy—happy in his ignorance of the chances he was taking, happy in his chosen life and the ease with which it afforded him both entertainment and pleasure, happy in the future he was so easily able to imagine, though never quite to grasp. He was glad to have removed himself and Pam to London, away from the queries about wedding dates and towards the quick movement and easy pleasure of the city, and if it bothered him that his fiancée had had to (through a mutual acquaintance) secure a position in the working world as Colonel Scott’s social secretary in order that they might continue that life in parallel it did not show in his behaviour, manners, or even his surface thoughts. He himself worked in the hauling business, by virtue of a familial connexion to the trade, neither in the lowly menial side nor in that portion that admitted to shares and partnerships—the comfortable middle for him, and a comfort indeed it was to have a steady income to head off the debtors. He knew that Pam’s newly acquired set of friends might scoff at his employment, but as Pam herself was (to use the phrase he so frequently thought of her) too good an egg to be addled by it, he did not greatly care.
He gave little thought to what Pam might be up to up at the big house; it was another one of those balls he found so tedious, so he’d begged off on account of Darryl’s horse. The horse had gone off half an hour before the ball began, of course, but he saw no reason Pam should ever know this, especially as its victory had provided the scratch he had been slowly losing over the past few hours. He stepped away from the table—best to know when one was beat, even if it took a few extra whacks to get the idea through one’s head—and walked over to the refreshment table in the corner of the room, took a glass of shandy, and started up a conversation with a mutual friend.
Yes, one must remember Roy Anderson happy.