“Well, you’ve done it now, Henery,” ses Bill Chambers. “Still, that’s your affair.”
“Ho, is it?” ses Henery Walker. “You ’ad as much to do with it as I ’ad, excepting that you was sitting up ’ere in comfort while I was doing all the work. It’s a wonder to me I got off as well as I did.”
Bill Chambers sat staring at ’im and scratching his ’ead, and just then they all ’eard the voice of Bob Pretty, very distinct, outside, asking for Henery Walker. Then the door opened, and Bob Pretty, carrying his ’ead very ’igh, walked into the room.
“Where’s Henery Walker?” he ses, in a loud voice.
[Illustration: “‘Where’s Henery Walker?’ he ses, in a loud voice.”]
Henery Walker put down the empty mug wot he’d been pretending to drink out of and tried to smile at ’im.
“Halloa, Bob!” he ses.
“What was you doing in my ’ouse?” ses Bob Pretty, very severe.
“I—I just looked in to see whether you was in, Bob,” ses Henery.
“That’s why you was found under my bed, I s’pose?” ses Bob Pretty. “I want a straight answer, Henery Walker, and I mean to ’ave it, else I’m going off to Cudford for Policeman White.”
“I went there to get that hamper,” ses Henery Walker, plucking up spirit. “You won it unfair last night, and we determined for to get it back. So now you know.”
“I call on all of you to witness that,” ses Bob, looking round. “Henery Walker went into my ’ouse to steal my hamper. He ses so, and it wasn’t ’is fault he couldn’t find it. I’m a pore man and I can’t afford such things; I sold it this morning, a bargain, for thirty bob.”
“Well, then there’s no call to make a fuss over it, Bob,” ses Bill Chambers.
“I sold it for thirty bob,” ses Bob Pretty, “and when I went out this evening I left the money on my bedroom mantelpiece—one pound, two arf-crowns, two two-shilling pieces, and two sixpences. My wife and her sister both saw it there. That they’ll swear to.”
“Well, wot about it?” ses Sam Jones, staring at ’im.
“Arter my pore wife ’ad begged and prayed Henery Walker on ’er bended knees to spare ’er life and go,” ses Bob Pretty, “she looked at the mantel-piece and found the money ’ad disappeared.”
Henery Walker got up all white and shaking and flung ’is arms about, trying to get ’is breath.
“Do you mean to say I stole it?” he ses, at last.
“O’ course I do,” ses Bob Pretty. “Why, you said yourself afore these witnesses and Mr. Smith that you came to steal the hamper. Wot’s the difference between stealing the hamper and the money I sold it for?”
Henery Walker tried for to answer ’im, but he couldn’t speak a word.
“I left my pore wife with ’er apron over her ’ead sobbing as if her ’art would break,” ses Bob Pretty; “not because o’ the loss of the money so much, but to think of Henery Walker doing such a thing—and ’aving to go to jail for it.”