“Why, the dawg.”
“Well, it’s a pretty ugly brute anyhow, Raffles.”
“It is so; it’s the colour—yellow is a mean colour. But he’s a terror to go.”
“Where?” said Jack, uncivilly; for the man’s manner, a mixture of familiarity and servility, had begun to pall on Jack’s taste.
“Why, there ain’t a better, quicker, neater dawg in all London after the rats than Warmint. He holds the record south the Thames.”
“Is there a record then for rat killing? How is it done?”
“Turn a sack o’ long tails on to the floor and let the dawg among them. He works against time, of course.”
“Have the rats any chance of getting away?”
“Ugh!” said Jack, looking at the mongrel with intense disgust.
“Is time for twenty—but I say, Mr. Bourne, if you like I’ll bring a bag o’ rats down, and you can see for yourself. While the other gentleman, Mr. Acting, is with the Coon, we can bring it off in the barn.”
“Man alive, no!” said Jack, with another spasm of disgust; “but if you’ve any other plans, Raffles, of killing an hour or so whilst Hill makes speeches, trot ’em out. I’m sick of pottering round his yard like an idiot. Are you coming with the Coon again?”
“Pretty well every time. What do you say to a little game of billiards?”
“Where?” said Jack.
“Nice little ’ouse near ’ere, I know.”
“No fear! That’s clean against the rules. Besides, who wants to knock balls about with a sticky cue on a torn billiard cloth, where the whole place reeks of beer and stale tobacco? No, thanks!”
“Young gents used not to set so much store by rules when I was a lad.”
“We’ve changed since then, Raffles,” said Jack, drily.
“A little shooting?”
“Sparrers?” suggested Raffles, off-hand.
“That’s better, Raffles. If you can get me half an hour with Hill’s rabbits, I’d risk that. Of course, there’d be a row if it was known. Acton won’t inquire, I fancy, who’s shooting?”
“Mr. Acton won’t, Mr. Bourne; he’s a gentleman.”
“He’s a monitor, though, Raffles, which is a different sort of animal.”
Raffles of Rotherhithe did not appear to think that Acton’s being a monitor was a clinching argument barring young Bourne’s sport. Perhaps he had private reasons for his opinions. Anyhow, he glibly promised to have a breech-loader and a ferret for young Bourne on the morrow.
“And old Hill? They’re his rabbits, you know.”
“That will be all right. Take Dan Raffles’ word for it.”
“Now look here, Raffles; I’ll give you sixpence for every rabbit I shoot, and I’ll pay you for the cartridges. You’ll keep all the rabbits, but you will lend me the gun.”
“Very good, sir,” said Raffles, smartly.
“And, Raffles,” said Jack, eyeing over that individual with a curious mixture of amusement and dislike, “you needn’t be too beastly friendly and chummy. I’m going to pay you for what you do, and don’t fancy I’m going an inch further than I feel inclined. I’m paying the piper, and I’m going to choose all the tunes.”