There was on’y one other man in the little bar Sam was in—a tall, dark chap, with black side-whiskers and spectacles, wot kept peeping round the partition and looking very ’ard at everybody that came in.
“I’m just keeping my eye on ’em, cap’n,” he ses to Sam, in a low voice.
“Ho!” ses Sam.
“They don’t know me in this disguise,” ses the dark man, “but I see as ’ow you spotted me at once. Anybody ’ud have a ’ard time of it to deceive you; and then they wouldn’t gain nothing by it.”
“Nobody ever ’as yet,” ses Sam, smiling at ’im.
“And nobody ever will,” ses the dark man, shaking his ’cad; “if they was all as fly as you, I might as well put the shutters up. How did you twig I was a detective officer, cap’n?”
Sam, wot was taking a drink, got some beer up ’is nose with surprise.
“That’s my secret,” he ses, arter the tec ’ad patted ’im on the back and brought ’im round.
“You’re a marvel, that’s wot you are,” ses the tec, shaking his ’ead. “Have one with me.”
Sam said he didn’t mind if ’e did, and arter drinking each other’s healths very perlite ‘e ordered a couple o’ twopenny smokes, and by way of showing off paid for ’em with ’arf a quid.
“That’s right, ain’t it?” ses the barmaid, as he stood staring very ’ard at the change. “I ain’t sure about that ’arf-crown, now I come to look at it; but it’s the one you gave me.”
Pore Sam, with a tec standing alongside of ’im, said it was quite right, and put it into ’is pocket in a hurry and began to talk to the tec as fast as he could about a murder he ’ad been reading about in the paper that morning. They went and sat down by a comfortable little fire that was burning in the bar, and the tec told ‘im about a lot o’ murder cases he ’ad been on himself.
“I’m down ’ere now on special work,” he ses, “looking arter sailormen.”
“Wot ha’ they been doing?” ses Sam.
“When I say looking arter, I mean protecting ’em,” ses the tec. “Over and over agin some pore feller, arter working ’ard for months at sea, comes ’ome with a few pounds in ’is pocket and gets robbed of the lot. There’s a couple o’ chaps down ’ere I’m told off to look arter special, but it’s no good unless I can catch ’em red-’anded.”
“Red-’anded?” ses Sam.
“With their hands in the chap’s pockets, I mean,” ses the tec.
Sam gave a shiver. “Somebody had their ’ands in my pockets once,” he ses. “Four pun ten and some coppers they got.”
“Wot was they like?” ses the tee, starting.
Sam shook his ’ead. “They seemed to me to be all hands, that’s all I know about ’em,” he ses. “Arter they ’ad finished they leaned me up agin the dock wall an’ went off.”
“It sounds like ’em,” ses the tec, thoughtfully. “It was Long Pete and Fair Alf, for a quid; that’s the two I’m arter.”
He put his finger in ’is weskit-pocket. “That’s who I am,” he ses, ’anding Sam a card; “Detective-Sergeant Cubbins. If you ever get into any trouble at any time, you come to me.”