“I never touched your money, and you know it,” ses Henery Walker, finding his breath at last. I don’t believe it was there. You and your wife ’ud swear anything.”
“As you please, Henery,” ses Bob Pretty. “Only I’m going straight off to Cudford to see Policeman White; he’ll be glad of a job, I know. There’s three of us to swear to it, and you was found under my bed.”
“Let bygones be bygones, Bob,” ses Bill Chambers, trying to smile at ’im.
“No, mate,” ses Bob Pretty. “I’m going to ’ave my rights, but I don’t want to be ’ard on a man I’ve known all my life; and if, afore I go to my bed to-night, the thirty shillings is brought to me, I won’t say as I won’t look over it.”
He stood for a moment shaking his ’ead at them, and then, still holding it very ’igh, he turned round and walked out.
“He never left no money on the mantelpiece,” ses Sam Jones, at last.
“Don’t you believe it. You go to jail, Henery.”
“Anything sooner than be done by Bob Pretty,” ses George Kettle.
“There’s not much doing now, Henery,” ses Bill Chambers, in a soft voice.
Henery Walker wouldn’t listen to ’em, and he jumped up and carried on like a madman. His idea was for ’em all to club together to pay the money, and to borrow it from Smith, the landlord, to go on with. They wouldn’t ’ear of it at fust, but arter Smith ’ad pointed out that they might ’ave to go to jail with Henery, and said things about ’is license, they gave way. Bob Pretty was just starting off to see Policeman White when they took the money, and instead o’ telling ’im wot they thought of ’im, as they ’ad intended, Henery Walker ’ad to walk alongside of ’im and beg and pray of ’im to take the money. He took it at last as a favor to Henery, and bought the hamper back with it next morning—cheap. Leastways, he said so.
Mr. Fred Carter stood on the spacious common, inhaling with all the joy of the holiday-making Londoner the salt smell of the sea below, and regarding with some interest the movements of a couple of men who had come to a stop a short distance away. As he looked they came on again, eying him closely as they approached—a strongly built, shambling man of fifty, and a younger man, evidently his son.
[Illustration: “Stood on the spacious common, inhaling the salt smell of the sea below.”]
“Good-evening,” said the former, as they came abreast of Mr. Carter.
“Good-evening,” he replied.
“That’s him,” said both together.
They stood regarding him in a fashion unmistakably hostile. Mr. Carter, with an uneasy smile, awaited developments.
“What have you got to say for yourself?” demanded the elder man, at last. “Do you call yourself a man?”
“I don’t call myself anything,” said the puzzled Mr. Carter. “Perhaps you’re mistaking me for somebody else.”