“When she’s dead she gets out into the open river, and when Blizzard hears she’s been found without any lead on her he raises hell.”
“When he gets through with us we was most skinned alive.”
“He wouldn’t dig that hole to the river,” said Bubbles, “just to get rid of people. What do you think it’s for?”
“You ain’t goin’ to tell Blizzard you been here, nor get us in trouble?”
“I’ll get you out of this some day, but you can’t get in no trouble through me.”
“Then,” said the blond man, “this is what we thinks out and concludes: Blizzard he’s calculatin’ to receive stolen goods wholesale. First he stores ’em in here until this cellar is full, and then he takes ’em down to the river and puts ’em aboard a ship bound fur furrin’ ports, and we thinks and concludes that he’ll make his get-away about the same time.”
“Well,” said Bubbles, “I’m obliged. I won’t forget your kindness. But it’s time I was off.”
“Come close first,” said the blond man.
Bubbles was instantly alarmed. “Why?”
“Only so’s we can feel your face, so’s to know what you look like.”
He stood impatient and embarrassed while they pawed his face with hard, grimy hands.
At last they let him go, he whose barrow was full accompanying him to the end of the passageway, and speeding him on his way with this comfortable remark:
“If you was to dive deep and feel around, you might find those as is leaded to the bottom.”
It took every ounce of nerve that Bubbles had at command to let his legs and body slip down into the cold and tragic current. It seemed certain that dead hands were reaching for him. But he screwed his courage up to the sticking point, and called to his acquaintance in the passage-mouth a whispered but nonchalant, “S’long!”
When Bubbles entered Blicker’s drug-store, the city clocks were striking a quarter to twelve, but the place was still brightly lighted, and at the soda-counter a young man was treating his flame to a glass of chocolate vanilla ice-cream.
Bubbles marched to the prescription counter, and began to unwrap a bloody handkerchief from his left hand. Then he began to clear his throat. This brought Mr. Blicker from a region of mortar pestles, empty pill-boxes, and glass retorts.
“What you want?” he asked aggressively.
“I want me thumb bandaged.”
“You cut him—eh?”
Bubbles lowered his voice. “On a barnacle.”
“Come in back here,” said Mr. Blicker roughly. “I fix him.” But once out of sight in the depths of the store, his manner changed, and he patted Bubbles enthusiastically on the back. “You have found out some things?”
The chemist, without commenting, began to treat the cut thumb, washing, disinfecting, and bandaging. Then, very loud, for the benefit perhaps of the lovers at the soda-counter, “So,” he said, “I let you out the back door.”