George Randolph Chester.

Five thousand an hour; how Johnny Gamble won the heiress online

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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES






FIVE THOUSAND AN HOUR




He thought that her cheek pale



FIVE THOUSAND
AN HOUR

How Johnny Gamble IVon the Heiress



BY

GEORGE RANDOLPH CHESTER

Author of

THE MAKING OF BOBBY BURNIT, THE EARLY BIRD.
GET-RICH-QUICK WALLINGFORD



ILLUSTRATIONS BY

HENRY RALEIGH



INDIANAPOLIS

THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY
PUBLISHERS



COPYRIGHT 1912
THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY



BRAUNWORTH It CO.
BOOKB'NDERS AND PRINTI
BROOKLYN. N. Y.



5505



CONTENTS

CHAPTER PACK

I WHICH INTRODUCES JOHNNY GAMBLE AND

His LAST HUNDRED DOLLARS ... 1

II IN WHICH STRANGERS BECOME OLD FRIENDS 10

III IN WHICH JOHNNY GAMBLE MIXES BUSI-

NESS AND PLEASURE 26

IV IN WHICH GRESHAM FINDS JOHNNY'S OLD

PARTNER ACCOMMODATING .... 38

V IN WHICH JOHNNY DISPLAYS TALENT AS

A TRUE PROMOTER 51

VI IN WHICH CONSTANCE DECIDES ON A FAIR

GAME 64

VII IN WHICH JOHNNY DREAMS OF A MAGNIF-
ICENT TWENTY-STORY HOTEL ... 92

VIII IN WHICH CONSTANCE SHOWS FURTHER

INTEREST IN JOHNNY'S AFFAIRS . . 103

IX IN WHICH JOHNNY MEETS A DEFENDER OF

THE OLD ARISTOCRACY 124

X IN WHICH JOHNNY Is SINGULARLY
THRILLED BY A LITTLE CONVERSATION
OVER THE TELEPHONE 141

XI IN WHICH JOHNNY EXECUTES SOME EX-
CEEDINGLY RAPID BUSINESS DEALS . . 153

XII IN WHICH JOHNNY EVEN DOES BUSINESS

AT THE BABIES' FUND FAIR .... 164

XIII IN WHICH JOHNNY BUYS A PRESENT AND

HATCHES A SCHEME . . 176



CONTENTS Continued



XIV IN WHICH JOHNNY TRIES TO Mix BUSI-
NESS WITH SKAT 185

XV IN WHICH WINNIE CHAPERONS THE EN-
TIRE PARTY TO CONEY ISLAND ... 198

XVI IN WHICH JOHNNY PLANS A REHEARSAL

BETWEEN OLD FRIENDS 216

XVII IN WHICH THE STRAW SAILOR HAT OF
JOHNNY PLAYS AN EMBARRASSING
ROLE 236

XVIII IN WHICH THE ENTIRE WOBBLES FAMILY

FOR ONCE GETS TOGETHER .... 242

XIX IN WHICH THE COLONEL, MESSRS. COURT-
NEY, WASHER AND OTHERS SIT IN A
LITTLE GAME 264

XX IN WHICH JOHNNY ASKS HIMSELF WHAT

Is A MILLION DOLLARS, ANYWAY . . 282

XXI IN WHICH CONSTANCE AVAILS HERSELF OF
WOMAN'S PRIVILEGE TO CHANGE HER
MIND 298

XXII IN WHICH PAUL GRESHAM PROPOSES A

VERY PRACTICAL ARRANGEMENT . .311

XXIII IN WHICH THE BRIGHT EYES OF CONSTANCE

"RAIN INFLUENCE" 324

XXIV IN WHICH JOHNNY DEMANDS SPOT CASH

AT ONCE 345

XXV IN WHICH JOHNNY KEEPS ON DOING BUSI-
NESS TILL THE CLOCK STRIKES FOUR . 356



FIVE THOUSAND AN
HOUR

CHAPTER I

WHICH INTRODUCES JOHNNY GAMBLE AND
HIS LAST HUNDRED DOLLARS

ABOUT the time the winner of the Bal-
timore Handicap flashed under the wire,
Johnny Gamble started to tear up a bundle of
nice pink tickets on Lady S. Just then Ashley
Loring came by swiftly in the direction of
the betting shed. Loring stopped and wheeled
when he caught sight of him as did most men
who knew him.

" Hello, Johnny ! I didn't know you had
run over. How are you picking them to-
day? " he asked.

" With a dream book," answered Gamble,
smiling; "but I ate lobster last night."
i



FIVE THOUSAND AN HOUR

" I didn't know that you cared for the
ponies."

"I don't; and it's mutual. Thought I'd
take one more whirl, though, before the Mary-
land governor also closes the tracks for ever.
How are you doing?"

" I'm working on a new system," stated the
tall young man with elation. " With this
scheme, all you have to do is to bet on the
right horse. What did you have in the
handicap? "

" The off bay over there," replied Gamble,
indicating a team attached to a sprinkling
wagon, away on the farther side of the course.
" Have one of her calling cards, Loring," and
he proffered one of the ex-tickets.

" Lady S ? " translated Loring. " I cut her
acquaintance three bets ago." And, turning
just then toward the grandstand, he smiled
up into one of the boxes and lifted his hat.

Glancing in that direction, Gamble was
shocked to find himself looking squarely into
the dark eyes of a strikingly beautiful young
2



JOHNNY GAMBLE

woman who stood with her hands resting upon
the rail.

"What do you know about Collaton? " he
asked; and, in spite of himself, he looked
again. The young lady this time was laugh-
ing with a group of likable young idlers, all
of whom Gamble knew; and, since the startling
stranger was occupied, he could indulge in a
slightly more open inspection.

" I saw Collaton on the track to-day and
he was making some big bets," replied Loring
with a frown. " He's not broke, Johnny.
He's merely been letting you hold the bag."

" Well, help me let go. Loring. I must dis-
solve that partnership."

The young lawyer shook his head.

" No way to do it so long as the books re-
main lost. Unless one of you buys outright
the practically defunct Gamble-Collaton Irri-
gation Company and assumes all its liabilities,
you will remain responsible, since Collaton
possesses no visible property. I'm sure that
he stung you, Johnny."
3



FIVE THOUSAND AN HOUR

" Stung me! I'm swelled up yet."

" It's your own fault. You trusted him too
much."

" He trusted me. I sold land."

"Of course he trusted you. Everybody
does. Meantime he was out West incurring
obligations. You should have gone into
bankruptcy and settled at twenty cents on the
dollar when you had a chance, as I advised
you."

" Couldn't. I look in the glass when I
shave. Anyhow, it's all paid now."

"How do you know, with the books lost?
You started in with an equal amount of
money. When that was gone Collaton an-
nounced himself broke and let you foot the
bills. If he only raked off half of what he
spent he got back his own and a tidy for-
tune besides. Your only chance is to have
that enormous land deal turn out a \vinner."

" It's worse than Lady S. Tore up my
ticket long ago."

" Quite a plunge on a long shot, w r ith a
4



JOHNNY GAMBLE

welsher like Collator! making the book," com-
mented Loring. " He stripped you clean."

" I have my appetite," insisted Gamble with
a grin. His cheeks were ruddy and his skin
as flawless as a babe's, and his eyes excep-
tionally large were as clear as they were di-
rect.

" An appetite like yours only makes it worse
to be broke," laughed Loring.

" There's a plenty of money in New York
if I want any," responded Gamble. " I don't
need money, anyhow, Ashley. I have my
mother fixed and there's nobody else. Be-
sides, I'm not broke. I have a hundred. Do
you know a good horse ? "

" Nautchautauk," advised Loring, and they
both turned in the direction of the betting
shed. " The price will probably be short ; but
I look on it as an investment."

" You can't invest a hundred dollars," ar-
gued Gamble.

" You don't mean to say that a hundred's
all you have in the world ! " returned Lor-
5



FIVE THOUSAND AN HOUR

ing. " I thought you'd saved a good deal
more than that out of the wreck."

" I did ; but my brother was broke," re-
plied Gamble carelessly, and stopped in front
of a blackboard. The price on Nautchautauk
was one and a half to two. " I don't want
a bet," he remarked, shaking his head at the
board ; " I need an accident. I wonder if that
goat Angora has horns and a beard? "

" People try fifty-to-one shots just before
they cut their throats," warned Loring.

" Hide my safety-razor then. Angora car-
ries my hundred. I'll feed a sawbuck apiece
to ten books."

Loring lost sight of him for a few mo-
ments, but found him outside, by and by, in
conversation with " Colonel " Bouncer, a
heavily-jowled man with grizzled hair and
very friendly eyes which, however, could look
quite cold enough on occasion. The colonel
was staring up at the box occupied by the
young lady to whom Loring had bowed.

" Bless my soul, I'm getting near-sighted ! "
6



JOHNNY GAMBLE

he was saying as Loring joined them. " Isn't
that Paul Gresham up there with Miss Joy? "

"Is that her name?" asked Gamble ea-
gerly. " Well, I believe it."

The colonel turned from him impatiently.

"You know Gresham, don't you, Loring?
Is that he up there in that box ? "

" That is Saint Paul all right," answered
Loring with a smile, as he glanced up at the
prim and precise Gresham, who had now suc-
ceeded in fencing Miss Joy in a corner, away
from the other young men.

" Thanks," said the colonel, and walked
away abstractedly, his eyes still turning in the
direction of the box, although he did not even
start to go up into the grandstand.

" The colonel is still bargain-hunting," ob-
served Loring with a laugh. " His shoe-
manufacturing business has increased to the
point that he must have more space and
he must have it at once. The only available
ground is Gresham's adjoining property,
which Gresham long ago gave up trying to
7



FIVE THOUSAND AX HOUR

sell him. The colonel is crazy to buy it now,
but he's afraid to let Gresham know he must
have it, for fear Saint Paul will run up the
price on him. In consequence, he trails the
man round like a love-sick boy after an ac-
tress. When he finds Gresham he only looks
at him and goes away. That's only half
of the laugh, however. Gresham wants to
sell as badly as the colonel wants to buy, but
he doesn't know where to find a fancy market.
Queer case, isn't it? "

" Yes/' replied Gamble. " Who's Miss
Joy?"

" For heaven's sake, Johnny, don't say
you're hit too even at long distance!"

"Hit!" repeated Gamble " I'm flattened
out. I'm no lady-fusser, Ashley, but I'm go-
ing to buy a new necktie."

" You don't even know she's rich, do
you ? " asked Loring, looking at him with a
curious smile.

"Of course I do!" asserted Johnny. "'I
saw her eyes. Who is she ? "



JOHXXY GAMBLE

" That's Miss Constance Joy an orphan
worth an exact million dollars ; although I be-
lieve there is some sort of a string to it,"
Loring told him. " She lives with her aunt,
who is Mrs. Pattie Boyden, and she's so pretty
that even women forgive her. Anything else
you want to know ? "

"Yes. Why do I want to bite Paul
Gresham?"

" Hush ! " admonished Loring. " He is the
remnant of one of our very best imported
families, and he needs the money. He sells
a piece of father's property every year, and
he haunts Miss Joy like a pestilence. I think
he's mixed up in her million some way or
other. Aunt Pattie approves of him very
much; she is strong for family."

" I'll bite him yet," decided Gamble. " Say,
Loring, how am I going to make a stringless
million?"

" If I knew that, I wouldn't be your law-
yer," declared Loiing. " Excuse me, Johnny;
there's a client of mine."



CHAPTER II

IN WHICH STRANGERS BECOME OLD FRIENDS

INTO the box where Miss Constance Joy
slender and dark and tall entertained her
bevy of admirers, there swished a violently-
gowned young woman of buxom build and
hearty manner, attended by a young man who
wore a hundred-dollar suit and smiled feebly
whenever he caught an eye. In his right
hand he carried Miss Polly Parsons' gloves
and parasol; in his left, her race-card and
hand-bag. Round his shoulders swung her
field-glasses; from his right pocket protruded
her fan and from his left her auto veil. She
carried her own vanity box.

"If you aren't the darlingest thing in the

world ! " she greeted Miss Joy, whose face had

lighted with a smile of both amusement and

pleasure. " You certainly are some Con !

10



STRANGERS BECOME OLD FRIENDS

Every time I see you in a new gown I change
my dressmaker. Hello, boys ! " She shook
hands cordially with all of them as soon as
she had paid her brief respects to Mrs. Pattie
Boyden, who was pleasant and indulgent
enough in her greeting, though not need-
lessly so.

" You're looking as happy as ever, Polly/'
observed Constance.

" I'm as happy as a mosquito in a baby's
crib," avowed Polly. " I've added three thou-
sand to-day to the subscription list for our
Ocean View Baby Hotel. Where's that list,
Sammy ? "

Sammy Chirp passed a few things from his
right to his left hand and searched a few
pockets; passed a few things from his left
to his right hand, dropped the lady's hand-
kerchief and picked it up, smiled feebly upon
everybody, and then at last produced the sub-
scription list, which Miss Joy read most in-
terestedly.

" That's splendid, Polly ! " she approved,
ii



FIVE THOUSAND AN HOUR

" Another day's work as good as this, and
we'll be able to buy our hotel."

Paul Gresham, standing stiffly between her
and Polly, looked down at her and smiled cor-
rectly.

" I guess we'd better go, don't you think ? "
he remarked to the other young men.

" You're safe enough," retorted Polly.
" You're safe any place with your check-book.
Besides, we don't want to double names on
this list. We'll spring another one when
we're ready to equip and run the place. Oh,
there's Johnny Gamble! Hello, Johnny!"
And she leaned far over the rail to call to
him.

It was strange how quickly Johnny Gamble
was able to distinguish a sound coming from
that direction, and he looked up immedi-
ately.

" Come right up here, Johnny," she com-
manded him. " I have a great surprise in
store for you."

" Go any place you say if it's not too hot
12



STRANGERS BECOME OLD FRIENDS

there," he cheerfully assured her, and started
off towards the staircase.

" When I get Johnny Gamble's name thi-s
list is closed," said Polly confidently.

" I'll bet with you on that," offered Bruce
Townley. " Johnny probably hasn't enough
money to buy a tin rattle for your babies'
hotel."

" No ! " she protested, shocked. " I'm so
used to seeing him with money that I don't
think I'd know him if he had it shaved off."

" He was too honest, as usual," supple-
mented Val Russel, lounging carelessly against
the rail. " Here comes Ashley Loring. He
can tell you all about it. Johnny Gamble
hasn't a cent left, has he, Loring? "

" It would be most unprofessional to discuss
Mr. Gamble's private affairs," said Loring re-
provingly as he came into the box. "Aside
from a mere detail like that, I don't mind say-
ing that Johnny Gamble has just bet the last
hundred dollars he has in the world on an
absolutely criminal long shot."
13



FIVE THOUSAND AN HOUR

" I hope he wins ! " stated Polly heartily.
" I think he's the only real gentleman I ever
knew."

"Well, I like that!" protested Val Russel,
laughing.

" I don't mean a slam at you boys," she
hastily corrected. " You're a nice clean
bunch; but I know so much about Johnny.
He helps people, then hides so he can't be
thanked. He's the one man out of a thou-
sand that both women and men can absolutely
trust."

" That's rather a broad statement," objected
Paul Gresham, who had eyed Polly with fas-
tidious distaste every time she spoke. He was
a rather silent young man with a thin high-
arched nose and eyebrows that met, and was
so flawlessly dressed that he sat stiffly.

" I'll make it two in a thousand, Mr.
Gresham," said Polly pleasantly. " I hadn't
noticed you ; and whatever I am I try to be
polite."

The four other young men, who were used
14



STRANGERS BECOME OLD FRIENDS

to Polly's sweeping generalities, laughed; for
Polly had their hearty approval.

Johnny Gamble arrived.

" Where's the surprise? " he demanded with
a furtive glance in the direction of Miss Joy,
a glance which Gresham jealously resented.

" Me ! " Polly gaily told him, thrusting her
subscription list into the pocket of Sammy
Chirp. " You haven't seen me since I got
back."

" You're no surprise you're a gasp ! " he
informed her, heartily glad to see her. " That
sunset bonnet is a maraschino."

" Pinkest one they had," she complacently
assured him. " I want you to meet some
friends of mine, Johnny." And, with vast
pride in her acquaintanceship with all parties
concerned, she introduced him to Constance
and Aunt Pattie.

Johnny Gamble and Constance Joy, for just

a moment, looked upon each other with the

frank liking which sometimes makes strangers

old friends. Gresham saw that instant lik-

15



FIVE THOUSAND AN HOUR

ing and stiffened. Johnny Gamble, born in a
two-room cottage and with sordid experi-
ences behind him of which he did not like to
think in this company, dropped his eyes;
whereupon Miss Constance Joy, who had been
cradled under silken coverlets, studied him
serenely. She had little enough opportunity
to inspect odd types at close range and this
was a very interesting specimen. His eyes
were the most remarkable blue she had ever
seen.

" Cousin Polly has been telling us most
pleasant things about you," she observed.

"Your cousin Polly?" he inquired, per-
plexed.

"Yes; we're cousins now," announced
Polly happily. " It's the first time I ever had
any relations, and I'm tickled stiff! "

"So am I ! " agreed Johnny heartily, figur-
ing vaguely that somebody or other must have
married.

" You are just in the nick of time, Gamble,"
Gresham quietly stated with a deliberate in-
16



-




STRANGERS BECOME OLD FRIENDS

tention of humiliating this child of no one.
" Miss Polly has a subscription list which she
wants you to complete."

" He's too late," replied Polly with a flash
of her eyes in Gresham's direction. " Mr.
Loring just closed up that list," and she winked
vigorously at Loring.

" Loring's my friend," Gamble said with a
cheerful laugh. " I have check- writer's
cramp. Who's to get the loving cup? "

" The loving cup's a bottle," Polly returned.
" This is a baby's benefit. It's Constance's
pet scheme and I'm crazy about it. We've
found a big, hundred-room summer hotel,
with two hundred acres of ground, on a high
bluff overlooking the ocean; and we're going
to turn it into a free hotel for sickly babies
and their mothers. Isn't that some scheme ? "

" I'm so strong for it I ache ! " announced
Mr. Gamble with fervor. " Put me down for
" He checked himself ruefully. "I
forgot I was broke ! " Gresham shrugged his
shoulders in satisfaction.



FIVE THOUSAND AN HOUR

"You'll take something for that," Polly
confidently comforted her friend Gamble.
" There's G. W. Mason & Company, Johnny.
Take me over to him and watch me fool him
when he says he has no check-book with him.
I have check blanks on every bank in town.
Bring along my hand-bag and my subscription
list, Sammy."

When they had gone, with the feebly pleased
Sammy dutifully bringing up the rear, Gres-
ham looked after them with relief.

" Handicap day brings out some queer peo-
ple," he observed.

"If you mean Mr. Gamble I think him de-
lightful," Constance quickly advised him.
" I'm inclined to agree with Polly that he is
very much a gentleman."

" He would be quite likely to appeal to
Polly," remarked Aunt Pattie as she arose
for a visit to a near-by box.

" You mean Cousin Polly," corrected Con-
stance sweetly.

Gresham was very thoughtful. He was
18



STRANGERS BECOME OLD FRIENDS

more logically calculating than most people
thought him.

It was Polly's cousinship which puzzled
Johnny Gamble. " When you picked a cousin
you made some choice," he complimented her.
"How did you do it?"

" They made me," she explained. " You
know that Billy Parsons was the only man
I ever wanted to marry or ever will, I guess.
His folks met me once and wouldn't stand
for me at all; then Billy took sick and went
out of his head. He cried for me so that the
doctor said he had to have me ; so I canceled
the best engagement I ever had. I wasn't a
star, but I was featured and was making an
awful hit. I went right to the house, though,
and stayed two months till Billy died.
Then I went back to work; but I hated it.
Well, along toward the 'last they'd got so
friendly that I was awful lonesome. It wasn't
long till they got lonesome too. They're old,
you know; and Billy was all they had. So
they came after me and I went with them;
19



FIVE THOUSAND AN HOUR

and they adopted me and we all love each
other to death. Constance's my cousin now
and she stands it without batting an eyelash.
She's about the cream of the earth, Johnny! "

He drew in his breath sharply.

" You're a lucky kid ! " he told her.

There was something in the intensity of
his tone which made her look up at him,
startled.

" Now don't you fall in love with her,
Johnny ! " she begged.

"Why not?" he demanded. "I never
tried it; but I bet I can do it."

" That's the trouble," she expostulated ;
" it's too easy. You can fall in all right, but
how will you get out? "

" I don't want out," he assured her. " I
play marbles for keeps."

" All right then ; take to pickles and per-
fume. Look here, Johnny; if none of her
own set can ring her with an orange wreath
what can an outsider do?"

" How do I know till I try? " he inquired.
20



STRANGERS BECOME OLD FRIENDS

" I get you, Polly. You mean I'm not in her
class ; but, you see, I want her ! "

" So do the others," she objected.

" They're not used to hard work," he ear-
nestly informed her. " Say, I need a million
dollars."

" Take enough while you're at it ! What
do you want it for ? "

" Her stack's that high."

" She'd never count it."

" I know ; but Aunt Pattie and I would. I
have to have it, Polly."

" Then you'll get it," she resignedly admit-
ted. "Why, Johnny, I believe you could get
Constance, too ! " she added with suddenly ac-
celerated belief in him. " Well, I'm certainly
for you. Tell me, what can I do to help
you? "

" Poison Gresham for me."

" Give me your fifteen cents," she directed.
" He's about as popular with her as a flea with
a dog; but he goes with the furniture. He
was wished on her by her Aunt Gertrude."

21



FIVE THOUSAND AN HOUR

" Why did her aunt hate her? "

" She hated everybody ; so she went in for
charity. She made six wills, each time leav-
ing all her money to a different public institu-
tion; but they each one did something she
didn't like before she could die. The last
time she decided to give Constance a chance,
made a new will and took sick the same night.
Constance has the interest on her million till
she marries Gresham; then she gets it all. If
she marries anybody else before Gresham dies
the money goes to a home for blind cats, or
something like that."

"Healthy soul, wasn't she?" commiserated
Johnny. " But why Gresham ? "

" The bug for family. Aunt Gertrude's
father didn't make his tobacco-trust money
fast enough for her to marry Gresham's
father, who would have been a lord if every-
body in England had died. Constance is to
bring aristocracy into the family now."

" Tell her to tear up that million. I'll get
her another one," offered Johnny easily.
22



STRANGERS BECOME OLD FRIENDS

"You'll need some repairs before you
start," she suggested. " They tell me you're
down and out."

" Tell them to guess again ! " he indignantly
retorted. " I own all the to-morrows in the
world. There's money in every one of them."

"I've got an awful big bank-account that
needs exercise," she offered. " Now, look
here, Johnny, don't yell like I'd hit you with
a brick. You told me to help myself once
when I needed it, and I did. You ought to
let me get even. All right, then; be stingy!
Where's Sammy ? " She had been feeling in
both sleeves with a trace of annoyance, and
now she turned to discover Sammy a few
paces back, idly watching a policeman putting
an inebriated man off the track. " Sammy ! "
she called him sharply. He came, running
and frightened. " I've lost my handkerchief,"
she informed him. " Go get it." Sammy
smiled gratefully and was gone.

"Where did you find it?" asked Johnny,
indicating the departing messenger. " Fol-
23



FIVE THOUSAND AN HOUR

low you home one cold night, or did a friend
give it to you? "

" Oh, no," she said carelessly ; " it just sticks
around. I can't get rid of it, so I've trained
it to be handy when I need it."

She fastened upon Colonel Mason just as
the horses came to the post, and she was sup-
lying him with a check blank just as they got
away from the barrier. Gamble turned to the
track and distinguished his long shot off in
the lead. He smiled grimly at that irony,
for he had seen long-shot horses raise false
hopes before. Mildly interested, he watched
Angora reach the quarter pole, still in the lead.
Rather incredulously, he saw her still in the
lead at the half. He was eager about it when
she rounded the three-quarters with nothing
but daylight before her ; and as she came down
the stretch, with Nautchautauk reaching out
for her flanks, he stuck the ash-end of his
cigar in his mouth and did not see the finish.
He knew, by the colossal groan from the
grandstand, however, that Angora had beaten
24



STRANGERS BECOME OLD FRIENDS

the favorite; and, though he was not in the
least excited, he felt through all his pockets
for his tickets, forgetting that he had taken
them out at the beginning of the race and still
held them in his hand; also, he forgot com-


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Online LibraryGeorge Randolph ChesterFive thousand an hour; how Johnny Gamble won the heiress → online text (page 1 of 14)