Ginger stared at ’im as if ’e couldn’t believe ’is eyes. “Playing?” he ses, feeling ’is face very gently with the tips of his fingers.
“Yes,” ses the landlord; “and if he ever hits you agin you’ll know I’m speaking the truth.”
Ginger sat back all of a heap and tried to think. “Is Miss Tucker going to keep company with ’im agin, then?” he ses, in a faint voice.
“No,” ses the landlord; “you can make your mind easy on that point.”
“Well, then, if I walk out with ’er I shall ’ave to fight Bill all over agin,” ses Ginger.
The landlord turned to ’im and patted ’im on the shoulder. “Don’t you take up your troubles afore they come, my lad,” he ses, kindly; “and mind and keep wot I’ve told you dark, for all our sakes.”
He put ’im down at the door of ’is lodgings and, arter shaking ’ands with ’im, gave the landlady a shilling and told ’er to get some beefsteak and put on ’is face, and went home. Ginger went straight off to bed, and the way he carried on when the landlady fried the steak afore bringing it up showed ’ow upset he was.
[Illustration: “The way he carried on when the landlady fried the steak showed ’ow upset he was.”]
It was over a week afore he felt ’e could risk letting Miss Tucker see ’im, and then at seven o’clock one evening he felt ’e couldn’t wait any longer, and arter spending an hour cleaning ’imself he started out for the Jolly Pilots.
He felt so ‘appy at the idea o’ seeing her agin that ’e forgot all about Bill Lumm, and it gave ’im quite a shock when ’e saw ’im standing outside the Pilots. Bill took his ’ands out of ’is pockets when he saw ’im and came toward ’im.
“It’s no good to-night, mate,” he ses; and to Ginger’s great surprise shook ’ands with ’im.
“No good?” ses Ginger, staring.
“No,” ses Bill; “he’s in the little back-parlour, like a whelk in ’is shell; but we’ll ’ave ’im sooner or later.”
“Him? Who?” ses Ginger, more puzzled than ever.
“Who?” ses Bill; “why, Webson, the landlord. You don’t mean to tell me you ain’t heard about it?”
“Heard wot?” ses Ginger. “I haven’t ’card any-thing. I’ve been indoors with a bad cold all the week.”
“Webson and Julia Tucker was married at eleven o’clock yesterday morning,” ses Bill Lumm, in a hoarse voice. “When I think of the way I’ve been done, and wot I’ve suffered, I feel ’arf crazy. He won a ’undered pounds through me, and then got the gal I let myself be disgraced for. I ’ad an idea some time ago that he’d got ’is eye on her.”
Ginger Dick didn’t answer ’im a word. He staggered back and braced ’imself up agin the wall for a bit, and arter staring at Bill Lumm in a wild way for pretty near three minutes he crawled back to ’is lodgings and went straight to bed agin.