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There must be a moral to this story, or perhaps there's more than one. If you consort with loose women, make sure they are reasonably honest, might be one lesson to be learned from it. If you want to embezzle your firm's money, do it with an appearance of honesty, could be another. A third might run: when gambling, choose an established and reputable bookie.
To some, these precepts might seem like simple common sense, but the penalty for ignoring them could be death, as a traveling salesman from Manchester discovered on the 28th of June 1883.
Before he landed in the water, the man we will call Drummer had been spending some days in Newcastle peddling cotton samples around the town. In all likelihood it was only by chance that he put up at a hotel that was the favorite stopping place of racing journalists. It was this circumstance, however, plus the keen observation of Arthur Binstead of the Sporting Times that enabled the details of his story to be preserved.
Binstead saw Drummer for the first time the night he checked in. The journalist was standing around the hotel lobby when he noticed the smart young salesman chatting with the young lady at the reception desk. The prettiest girl in Newcastle, thought Binstead, as he took in her oval, madonna-like face, soft brown eyes, dimpled chin and full bosom.
So pure did the young lady appear that Binstead was quite surprised to hear her say to Drummer a few moments later: "My room is on the floor above yours and at the extreme end of the passage on the right-hand side. So that you may make no mistake, I'll kick the corner of my mat over."
Next morning Binstead was awakened by a lot of noisy talk outside his room. He peeped out of his door to see a considerable procession passing: the hotel's proprietor, the salesman, Drummer, in pajamas, a few hotel servants and one or two guests. He hurriedly slipped out to investigate and followed the troupe upstairs and along to the end of the passage. The entire group paused outside the door of the last room, and the proprietor knocked loudly.
"What do you want?" said a demure voice.
"Open the door, Miss Millington," commanded the proprietor.
"When I am dressed, I will and not before," the girl replied.
While they waited, Drummer explained to Binstead what the trouble was. He had gone to Miss Millington's room the evening before, he said, to discuss with her the virtues of vegetarian diet. He had stayed, discussing vegetarianism, until daylight. In the time intervening she'd agreed to try vegetarianism, and to start her off with an adequate supply of health food he had peeled off a �5 note from the bundle of money he was carrying for his employers.