Mr. Grummit shook his head. “Not a word,” he faltered.
“That’s all right, then,” said Mr. Evans. “I shouldn’t like to be hard on a neighbour; not that we shall be neighbours much longer.”
Mr. Grummit, feeling that a reply was expected of him, gave utterance to a feeble “Oh!”
“No,” said Mr. Evans, looking round disparagingly. “It ain’t good enough for us now; I was promoted to sergeant this morning. A sergeant can’t live in a common place like this.”
Mr. Grummit, a prey to a sickening fear, drew near the fence again. “A— a sergeant?” he stammered.
Mr. Evans smiled and gazed carefully at a distant cloud. “For my bravery with them burglars the other night, Grummit,” he said, modestly. “I might have waited years if it hadn’t been for them.”
He nodded to the frantic Grummit and turned away; Mr. Grummit, without any adieu at all, turned and crept back to the house.
[Illustration: “Bob’s Redemption.”]
“GRATITOODE!” said the night-watchman, with a hard laugh. “Hmf! Don’t talk to me about gratitoode; I’ve seen too much of it. If people wot I’ve helped in my time ’ad only done arf their dooty—arf, mind you—I should be riding in my carriage.”
Forgetful of the limitations of soap-boxes he attempted to illustrate his remark by lolling, and nearly went over backwards. Recovering himself by an effort he gazed sternly across the river and smoked fiercely. It was evident that he was brooding over an ill-used past.
’Arry Thomson was one of them, he said, at last. For over six months I wrote all ’is love-letters for him, ’e being an iggernerant sort of man and only being able to do the kisses at the end, which he always insisted on doing ’imself: being jealous. Only three weeks arter he was married ’e come up to where I was standing one day and set about me without saying a word. I was a single man at the time and I didn’t understand it. My idea was that he ’ad gone mad, and, being pretty artful and always ’aving a horror of mad people, I let ’im chase me into a police-station. Leastways, I would ha’ let ’im, but he didn’t come, and I all but got fourteen days for being drunk and disorderly.
Then there was Bill Clark. He ’ad been keeping comp’ny with a gal and got tired of it, and to oblige ’im I went to her and told ’er he was a married man with five children. Bill was as pleased as Punch at fust, but as soon as she took up with another chap he came round to see me and said as I’d ruined his life. We ’ad words about it—naturally—and I did ruin it then to the extent of a couple o’ ribs. I went to see ’im in the horsepittle—place I’ve always been fond of—and the langwidge he used to me was so bad that they sent for the Sister to ’ear it.
That’s on’y two out of dozens I could name. Arf the unpleasantnesses in my life ’ave come out of doing kindnesses to people, and all the gratitoode I’ve ‘ad for it I could put in a pint-pot with a pint o’ beer already in it.