“‘Well, I could give my money away,’ he said. I looked at him quickly, for his tone was very earnest.
“‘That won’t do, my boy. Indiscriminate giving may be very injurious.’
“‘I can’t understand that.’
“A few nights later a beggar touched his arm as he passed. The man said he was hungry and looked it. Jerry gave him his pocketbook. The fellow glanced at the pocketbook and then at Jerry as though he thought the boy was crazy and bolted without a word. Jerry watched him out of sight. ‘Might at least have said “Thank you,"’ he murmured. He didn’t speak of giving away money for awhile.
“A night or two later he had an experience of another sort. It was after the theater, the least noxious play I could discover on the bills. Two women met us in a dark cross street. I saw Jerry stop and stare at one of them. That was unusual. I urged him to go on but he stopped and listened.
“‘In an awful hurry, ain’t you, dearie?’ one of the girls asked.
“‘Why, no, not at all,’ says Jerry, politely taking off his hat. And then as her appellation struck him: ’I think you must have mistaken me for someone else.’
“The girl was a little puzzled.
“‘Aw, yer stringin’ me,’ she said.
“‘Stringing?’ asked Jerry.
“‘Cut it out. You know what I mean well enough’. Come along,’ and she moved a pace away.
“Jerry followed. ‘I’d be glad to come if I can be of any assistance.’
“‘Assistance,’ laughed the girl.
“‘Did you hear that, Geraldine?’
“And with that they both burst into roars of laughter.
“Jerry’s ignorance of things made him keenly sensitive to ridicule.
“‘I think you’re very impolite,’ he said with dignity.
“‘Aw, go chase yourself,’ said Geraldine and vanished into the shadows with her companion.
“That interview took a lot of explaining. In fact, all the way to Jerry’s house the mystery of the girls’ behavior hung like a cloud over him. ‘Do you know, Jack,’ he said as we were parting, ’I think that girl was mad—quite mad.’”
“Couldn’t you have prevented that meeting?” I asked.
“I didn’t try. Besides, Jerry is a persistent chap. When I asked him why he stopped, he said it was because the girl looked like somebody he was hunting for.”
“Who? I can’t imagine.”
“He said her name was Una Smith.”
“Oh, yes. The minx who slipped into Horsham Manor. I told you about her. But her name isn’t Smith.”
“Jerry has been looking for her.” He laughed. “He thought at first, he said, he’d see her on the street, but was surprised to find the city so large. He was a little disappointed. But I think he’s forgotten. There’s safety in numbers.”
“Then he doesn’t know anything yet?”
“Bless your heart! I’d no more think of teaching Jerry filth than I would my own sister. But by the Lord Harry, he’s an inquisitive cuss. He’s learning that life isn’t all beer and skittles, has felt the skinny talons of poverty on his elbow and has heard a truck-driver swear in the approved New York manner. That in itself was a liberal education. The worst of it was that the chap happened to be swearing at Jerry.”