O’ course, the crowd was round us agin, and to get rid of ’em I did a thing I’d seldom done afore—I called a cab, and we all bundled in and drove off to the wharf, with the spear sticking out o’ the window, and most of the assegais sticking into me.
“This is getting serious,” ses Rupert.
“Yes,” I ses; “and wot ‘ave I done to be dragged into it? You must ha’ been paying ’er some attention to make ’er carry on like this.”
I thought Rupert would ha’ bust, and the things he said to the man wot was spending money like water to rescue ’im was disgraceful.
We got to the wharf at last, and I was glad to see that my pal ’ad got tired of night-watching and ’ad gone off, leaving the gate open. Kumbo went in ’anging on to Rupert’s arm, and I follered with the spear, which I ’ad held in my ’and while I paid the cabman.
They went into the office, and Rupert and me talked it over while Kumbo kept patting ’is cheek. He was afraid that the manager would track ’im to the wharf, and I was afraid that the guv’nor would find out that I ’ad been neglecting my dooty, for the fust time in my life.
We talked all night pretty near, and then, at ha’-past five, arf an hour afore the ’ands came on, I made up my mind to fetch a cab and drive ’em to my ’ouse. I wanted Rupert to go somewhere else, but ’e said he ’ad got nowhere else to go, and it was the only thing to get ’em off the wharf. I opened the gates at ten minutes to six, and just as the fust man come on and walked down the wharf we slipped in and drove away.
We was all tired and yawning. There’s something about the motion of a cab or an omnibus that always makes me feel sleepy, and arter a time I closed my eyes and went off sound. I remember I was dreaming that I ’ad found a bag o’ money, when the cab pulled up with a jerk in front of my ’ouse and woke me up. Opposite me sat Kumbo fast asleep, and Rupert ’ad disappeared!
I was dazed for a moment, and afore I could do anything Kumbo woke up and missed Rupert. Wot made matters worse than anything was that my missis was kneeling down in the passage doing ’er door-step, and ’er face, as I got down out o’ that cab with Kumbo ’anging on to my arm was something too awful for words. It seemed to rise up slow-like from near the door-step, and to go on rising till I thought it ’ud never stop. And every inch it rose it got worse and worse to look at.
[Illustration: She stood blocking up the doorway with her ’ands on her ’ips.]
She stood blocking up the doorway with her ’ands on her ’ips, while I explained, with Kumbo still ’anging on my arm and a crowd collecting behind, and the more I explained, the more I could see she didn’t believe a word of it.
She never ’as believed it. I sent for Mr. Alfredi to come and take Kumbo away, and when I spoke to ’im about Rupert he said I was dreaming, and asked me whether I wasn’t ashamed o’ myself for carrying off a pore black gal wot ’ad got no father or mother to look arter her. He said that afore my missis, and my character ’as been under a cloud ever since, waiting for Rupert to turn up and clear it away.