Banker allowed the old African to go his way without molestation, for the brightly lighted neighborhood of the hotel was not adapted to his projected performance. But he followed him warily, and, when they reached a quiet street, Banker quickened his pace, passed Cheditafa, and, suddenly turning, confronted him. Then, without a word having been said, there flashed upon the mind of the African everything that had happened, not only in the Tuileries Gardens, but in the Rackbirds’ camp, and at the same time a prophetic feeling of what was about to happen.
By a few quick pulls and jerks, Banker had so far removed his disguise that Cheditafa knew him the instant that his eyes fell upon him. His knees trembled, his eyeballs rolled so that nothing but their whites could be seen, and he gave himself up to death. Then spoke out the terrible Rackbird.
What he said need not be recorded here, but every word of superheated vengeance, with which he wished to torture the soul of his victim before striking him to the earth, went straight to the soul of Cheditafa, as if it had been a white-hot iron. His chin fell upon his breast. He had but one hope, and that was that he would be killed quickly. He had seen people killed in the horrible old camp, and the man before him he believed to be the worst Rackbird of them all.
When Banker had finished stabbing and torturing the soul of the African, he drew a knife from under his coat, and down fell Cheditafa on his knees.
The evening was rainy and dark, and the little street was nearly deserted. Banker, who could look behind and before him without making much show of turning his head, had made himself sure of this before he stepped in front of Cheditafa. But while he had been pouring out his torrent of heart-shrivelling vituperation, he had ceased to look before and behind him, and had not noticed a man coming down the street in the opposite direction to that in which they had been going.
This was Mok, who was much less of a fool than Cheditafa took him for. He had calculated that he would have time to go to the Black Cat and drink two glasses of beer before Ralph was likely to appear, and he also made up his mind that two glasses were as much as he could dispose of without exciting the suspicions of the young man. Therefore, he had attended to the business that had taken him out of doors on that rainy night, and was returning to the hotel with a lofty consciousness of having done wrong in a very wise and satisfactory manner.
He wore india-rubber overshoes, because the pavements were wet, and also because this sort of foot-gear suited him better than hard, unyielding sole-leather. Had he had his own way, he would have gone bare-footed, but that would have created comment in the streets of Paris—he had sense enough to know that.
When he first perceived, by the dim light of a street lamp, two persons standing together on his side of the street, his conscience, without any reason for it, suggested that he cross over and pass by without attracting attention. To wrong-doers attention is generally unwelcome.