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Mr. Hawley, who was adding up his score, beamed.
"Yes," he said. "I've been using that system for more than 40 years. It's absolutely infallible." He held up the score card. "Broke 100 again," the old man said happily. "Ninety-nine. Not bad for an old gaffer, eh?"
He laughed and I laughed with him.
"No, sir," I said cheerfully. "Except that your score isn't really 99. Actually, sir, it's 117."
Mr. Hawley and his son-in-law looked at me as though I had accused them of bribing the Pig Woman in the Hall-Mills murder case. Young Peterson found his voice first.
"What do you mean?" he said.
I was so carried away by the excitement of my discovery that I was thoughtless enough to tell him.
"It's simple enough," I said. "I've been watching Mr. Hawley and I noticed that he transfers a penny from his right-hand pocket to his left after every stroke, all right, except that after the last putt he takes all the pennies out of his left-hand pocket instead of taking one more out of the right-hand one. As a result, he hasn't been counting his last putts, which means on every hole he's been scoring himself one stroke short of the actual count, which means that on the 18 holes you just played, he really has to add 18 more strokes to his card, and if you add 18 to the 99 Mr. Hawley has you get—"
My voice stopped. My excited and completely innocent explanation—which had been intended to convey to Mr. Hawley no more than the fact that, while I didn't know very much about public accountancy, I was not so dumb when it came to simple arithmetic—had run head on into the look on his face.
"Good Lord!" that look said as clearly as though the horrified words were actually being spelled out in neon lights. "For more than 40 years," said Mr. Hawley, "I've been making the same mistake! For almost half a century I've been accidentally deducting 18 strokes from my score card! Even in my prime, when I thought I was shooting in the low 80s I wasn't even breaking 100! Why hasn't somebody pointed that out to me before?"