Promptly Margaret opened the bag at her waist and took out her purse. “Don’t!” she pleaded. “Please don’t! I—I’m upset already. Take this, and please—oh, please, don’t spend it in getting drunk or gambling or anything horrid,” Miss Hugonin implored him. “You all do, and it’s so selfish of you and so discouraging.”
Mr. Flinks eyed the purse hungrily. Such a fat purse! thought Cock-eye Plinks. And there ain’t nobody within a mile of here, neither. You are not to imagine that Mr. Flinks was totally abandoned; his vices were parochial, restrained for the most part by a lively apprehension of the law. But now the spell of the Eagle was strong upon him.
“Lady,” said Mr. Flinks, twisting in his grimy hand the bill she had given him—and there, too, the Eagle flaunted in his vigour and heartened him, “lady, that ain’t much for you to give. Can’t you do a little better than that by a poor workingman, lady?”
A very unpleasant-looking person, Mr. Cock-eye Flinks. Oh, a peculiarly unpleasant-looking person to be a model son and a loving husband and a tender father. Margaret was filled with a vague alarm.
But she was brave, was Margaret. “No,” said she, very decidedly, “I shan’t give you another cent. So you climb right over that wall and go straight back where you belong.”
The methods of Mr. Flinks, I regret to say, were somewhat more crude than those of Mesdames Haggage and Saumarez and Messieurs Kennaston and Jukesbury.
“Cheese it!” said Mr. Flinks, and flung away his staff and drew very near to her. “Gimme that money, do you hear!”
“Don’t you dare touch me!” she panted; “ah, don’t you dare!”
“Aw, hell!” said Mr. Flinks, disgustedly, and his dirty hands were upon her, and his foul breath reeked in her face.
In her hour of need Margaret’s heart spoke.
“Billy!” she wailed; “oh, Billy, Billy!”
* * * * *
He came to her—just as he would have scaled Heaven to come to her, just as he would have come to her in the nethermost pit of Hell if she had called. Ah, yes, Billy Woods came to her now in her peril, and I don’t think that Mr. Flinks particularly relished the look upon Billy’s face as he ran through the gardens, for Billy was furiously moved.
Cock-eye Flinks glanced back at the wall behind him. Ten feet high, and the fellow ain’t far off. Cock-eye Flinks caught up his staff, and as Billy closed upon him, struck him full on the head. Again and again he struck him. It was a sickening business.
Billy had stopped short. For an instant he stood swaying on his feet, a puzzled face showing under the trickling blood. Then he flung out his hands a little, and they flapped loosely at the wrists, like wet clothes hung in the wind to dry, and Billy seemed to crumple up suddenly, and slid down upon the grass in an untidy heap.