Lester awoke in the morning to find the sunshine streaming into the room, and White sitting up and regarding with some perplexity a badly blistered finger.
“Where are the others?” inquired Lester. “Gone, I suppose,” said White. “We must have been asleep.”
Lester arose, and stretching his stiffened limbs, dusted his clothes with his hands, and went out into the corridor. White followed. At the noise of their approach a figure which had been lying asleep at the other end sat up and revealed the face of Barnes. “Why, I’ve been asleep,” he said in surprise. “I don’t remember coming here. How did I get here?”
“Nice place to come for a nap,” said Lester, severely, as he pointed to the gap in the balusters. “Look there! Another yard and where would you have been?”
He walked carelessly to the edge and looked over. In response to his startled cry the others drew near, and all three stood gazing at the dead man below.
[Illustration: “All three stood gazing at the dead man below.”]
Sailormen don’t bother much about their relations, as a rule, said the night-watchman; sometimes because a railway-ticket costs as much as a barrel o’ beer, and they ain’t got the money for both, and sometimes because most relations run away with the idea that a sailorman has been knocking about ’arf over the world just to bring them ’ome presents.
Then, agin, some relations are partikler about appearances, and they don’t like it if a chap don’t wear a collar and tidy ’imself up. Dress is everything nowadays; put me in a top ’at and a tail-coat, with a twopenny smoke stuck in my mouth, and who would know the difference between me and a lord? Put a bishop in my clothes, and you’d ask ’im to ’ave a ’arf-pint as soon as you would me—sooner, p’r’aps.
[Illustration: “Put a bishop in my clothes, and you’d ask ’im to ’ave a ’arf-pint as soon as you would me.”]
Talking of relations reminds me of Peter Russet’s uncle. It’s some years ago now, and Peter and old Sam Small and Ginger Dick ’ad just come back arter being away for nearly ten months. They ’ad all got money in their pockets, and they was just talking about the spree they was going to have, when a letter was brought to Peter, wot had been waiting for ’im at the office.
He didn’t like opening it at fust. The last letter he had ’ad kept ’im hiding indoors for a week, and then made him ship a fortnight afore ’e had meant to. He stood turning it over and over, and at last, arter Sam, wot was always a curious man, ’ad told ’im that if he didn’t open it he’d do it for ’im, he tore it open and read it.
“It’s from my old uncle, George Goodman,” he ses, staring. “Why, I ain’t seen ’im for over twenty years.”
“Do you owe ’im any money?” ses Sam.
Peter shook his ’ead. “He’s up in London,” he ses, looking at the letter agin, “up in London for the fust time in thirty-three years, and he wants to come and stay with me so that I can show ’im about.”