“‘It’s a bully night,’ says I, by way of epigram, unhooking the pair of bouncers. “‘You wouldn’t like me to take you ridin’ perhaps?’
“‘Are you drunk, or crazy?’ says he. ’What do you mean by breaking into my office? I can’t talk to you; we’re just going to press.’
“‘I’d like to stay and watch it,’ says I, ’but I’ve got a news item for you.’ At the same time I draws my skinner and lays it on the back of his neck, tempting. Steel, in the lamp-light, is discouraging to some temperaments. One of the body-guards was took with urgent business, and left a streamer of funny noises behind him, while the other gave autumn-leaf imitations in the corner. Struthers looked like a dose of seasickness on a sour stomach.
“Get your hat. Quick!’ I jobbed him, gentle and encouraging.
“Age allus commands respect. Therefore the sight of a six-foot, grizzled Klondiker in a wide hat, benevolently prodding the night editor in the short ribs and apple sauce, with eight bright and chilly inches, engendered a certain respect in the reportorial staff.
“‘You’re going to tell Mrs. Morrow all about the pretty pictures,’ I says, like a father.
“‘Let me go, damn you!’ he frothed, but I wedged him into a corner of the cab and took off his collar—in strips. It interfered with his breathing, as I couldn’t get a holt low enough to regulate his respiration. He kicked out two cab windows, but I bumped his head agin the woodwork, by way of repartee. It was a real pleasure, not to say recreation, experimenting with the noises he made. Seldom I get a neck I give a cuss to squeeze. His was number fifteen at first, by the feel; but I reduced it a quarter size at a time.
“When we got there I helped him out, one hand under his chin, the other back of his ears. I done it as much from regard of the neighbours as animosities to him, for it was the still, medium small hours. I tiptoed in with my treatise on the infamies of photography gurgling under my hand, but at the door I stopped. It was ajar; and there, under the light, I spied Morrow. In his arms I got glimpses of black lace and wavy, brown hair, and a white cheek that he was accomplishing wonders with. They wouldn’t have heard a man-hole explosion.
“‘He’s still fitting to be my pardner,’ I thinks, and then I heard Struthers’s teeth chatter and grind. I looked at him, and the secret of the whole play came to me.
“Never having known the divine passion, it ain’t for me to judge, but I tightened on his voice-box and whispered:
“’You’ve outlived your period of usefulness, Struthers, and it’s time to go. Let us part friends, however.’ So I bade him Godspeed from the top step.
“Looking back on the evening now, that adieu was my only mistake. I limped for a week—he had a bottle in his hip pocket.”