Why doesn't Philip Sletherby help Bertie in "A Shot in the Dark"?

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Philip Sletherby does not help Bertie because he thinks the young man is lying about being Mrs. Saltpen-Jago’s son and is trying to cheat him.

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In Saki’s story “A Shot in the Dark,” Philip Sletherby happens to share a “railway carriage” or train compartment with a boy named Bertie. Philip is a young man with political ambitions who hopes to secure the backing of an influential, elite woman named Honoria Saltpen-Jago. Philip is taking the train to Chalkshire County, where Mrs. Saltpen-Jago has invited him to spend a long weekend at her estate, Brill Manor. He is pleased to have this opportunity, because he knows she can help him with his goal, which is to win a seat in Parliament representing eastern Chalkshire.

As he travels, he makes the acquaintance of a younger man, whose name he soon learns is Bertie. This man is described as looking like a “nut,” showing a “blend of smartness and disarray.” Philip quickly forms an unfavorable impression, as Bertie is searching his pockets for something he has lost.

While Philip reads his magazine, Bertie addresses him and tells him he is the second son of Mrs. Saltpen-Jago. He had overheard Philip telling a friend, before they departed, that his destination was Brill Manor. Bertie too is headed there, after a few days.

Bertie admits that he has left his wallet or “sovereign-purse” and has no money. As he will see Philip again at Brill Manor, he asks to borrow a couple of pounds. At first Philip agrees, but then asks Bertie a few questions. Because Bertie does not answer to his satisfaction, he concludes that the other man is lying about his identity. The suspicious answers relate to a family crest and his mother’s hair color. Believing that he would never see this liar again, Philip decides he is a con-man and refuses to help him.

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