“Wot is he?” ses Sam.
“He’s retired,” ses Peter, trying not to speak proud.
“Got money?” ses Sam, with a start.
“I b’leeve so,” ses Peter, in a off-hand way. “I don’t s’pose ’e lives on air.”
“Any wives or children?” ses Sam.
“No,” ses Peter. “He ’ad a wife, but she died.”
“Then you have ’im, Peter,” ses Sam, wot was always looking out for money. “Don’t throw away a oppertunity like that. Why, if you treat ’im well he might leave it all to you.”
“No such luck,” ses Peter.
“You do as Sam ses,” ses Ginger. “I wish I’d got an uncle.”
“We’ll try and give ’im a good time,” ses Sam, “and if he’s anything like Peter we shall enjoy ourselves.”
“Yes; but he ain’t,” ses Peter. “He’s a very solemn, serious-minded man, and a strong teetotaller. Wot you’d call a glass o’ beer he’d call pison. That’s ’ow he got on. He’s thought a great deal of in ’is place, I can tell you, but he ain’t my sort.”
“That’s a bit orkard,” ses Sam, scratching his ’ead. “Same time, it don’t do to throw away a chance. If ’e was my uncle I should pretend to be a teetotaller while ’e was here, just to please ’im.”
“And when you felt like a drink, Peter,” ses Ginger, “me and Sam would look arter ’im while you slipped off to get it.”
“He could ’ave the room below us,” ses Sam. “It is empty.”
Peter gave a sniff. “Wot about you and Ginger?” he ses.
“Wot about us?” ses Sam and Ginger, both together.
“Why, you’d ‘ave to be teetotallers, too,” ses Peter. “Woes the good o’ me pretending to be steady if ’e sees I’ve got pals like you?”
Sam scratched his ’ead agin, ever so long, and at last he ses, “Well, mate,” he ses, “drink don’t trouble me nor Ginger. We can do without it, as far as that goes; and we must all take it in turns to keep the old gentleman busy while the others go and get wot they want. You’d better go and take the room downstairs for ’im, afore it goes.”
Peter looked at ‘im in surprise, but that was Sam all over. The idea o’ knowing a man with money was too much for ’im, and he sat there giving good advice to Peter about ’is behavior until Peter didn’t know whether it was ’is uncle or Sam’s. ’Owever, he took the room and wrote the letter, and next arternoon at three o’clock Mr. Goodman came in a four-wheel cab with a big bag and a fat umbrella. A short, stiffish-built man of about sixty he was, with ‘is top lip shaved and a bit o’ short gray beard. He ’ad on a top ’at and a tail-coat, black kid gloves and a little black bow, and he didn’t answer the cabman back a single word.
[Illustration: “Mr. Goodman came in a four-wheel cab with a big bag and a fat umbrella.”]
He seemed quite pleased to see Peter, and by and by Sam, who was bursting with curiosity, came down-stairs to ask Peter to lend ’im a boot-lace, and was interduced. Then Ginger came down to look for Sam, and in a few minutes they was all talking as comfortable as possible.