It was all done and over in a moment, and then, to Ginger’s great surprise, Sam suddenly lifted ’is foot and gave ’im a fearful kick on the shin of ’is leg, and at the same time let drive with all his might in ’is face. Ginger went down as if he ’ad been shot, and as Peter went to ’elp him up he got a bang over the ’cad that put ‘im alongside o’ Ginger, arter which Sam turned and trotted off down the Hill like a dancing-bear.
[Illustration: “Let drive with all his might in ’is face. “]
For ’arf a minute Ginger didn’t know where ’e was, and afore he found out the two men they’d seen in the gateway came up, and one of ’em put his knee in Ginger’s back and ’eld him, while the other caught hold of his ’and and dragged the purse out of it. Arter which they both made off up the Hill as ’ard as they could go, while Peter Russet in a faint voice called “Police!” arter them.
He got up presently and helped Ginger up, and they both stood there pitying themselves, and ’elping each other to think of names to call Sam.
“Well, the money’s gorn, and it’s ’is own silly fault,” ses Ginger. “But wotever ’appens, he mustn’t know that we had a ’and in it, mind that.”
“He can starve for all I care,” ses Peter, feeling his ’ead. “I won’t lend ’im a ha’penny—not a single, blessed ha’penny.”
“Who’d ha’ thought ‘e could ha’ hit like that?” says Ginger. “That’s wot gets over me. I never ’ad such a bang in my life—never. I’m going to ‘ave a little drop o’ brandy—my ’ead is fair swimming.”
Peter ’ad one, too; but though they went into the private bar, it wasn’t private enough for them; and when the landlady asked Ginger who’d been kissing ’im, he put ’is glass down with a bang and walked straight off ’ome.
Sam ’adn’t turned up by the time they got there, and pore Ginger took advantage of it to put a little warm candle-grease on ’is bad leg. Then he bathed ’is face very careful and ’elped Peter bathe his ’ead. They ’ad just finished when they heard Sam coming upstairs, and Ginger sat down on ‘is bed and began to whistle, while Peter took up a bit o’ newspaper and stood by the candle reading it.
“Lor’ lumme, Ginger!” ses Sam, staring at ‘im. “What ha’ you been a-doing to your face?”
“Me?” ses Ginger, careless-like. “Oh, we ’ad a bit of a scrap down Limehouse way with some Scotchies. Peter got a crack over the ’ead at the same time.”
“Ah, I’ve ’ad a bit of a scrap, too,” ses Sam, smiling all over, “but I didn’t get marked.”
“Oh!” ses Peter, without looking up from ’is paper. “Was it a little boy, then?” ses Ginger.
“No, it wasn’t a little boy neither, Ginger,” ses Sam; “it was a couple o’ men twice the size of you and Peter here, and I licked ’em both. It was the two men I spoke to you about last night.”
“Oh!” ses Peter agin, yawning.
“I did a bit o’ thinking this morning,” ses Sam, nodding at ’em, “and I don’t mind owning up that it was owing to wot you said. You was right, Ginger, arter all.”