“All right,” Jack replied. “I’ll be through in a couple of minutes.”
He wondered if it could have anything to do with Diane, as he set to work on the injured man. With deft fingers he bathed the cut, staunched the blood, and applied a piece of plaster handed to him by a bystander; over it he placed the dry half of his handkerchief.
“You’ll do now,” he said. “It’s not a deep cut.”
With assistance the man got to his feet. The shock had sobered him, and he was pretty steady. He pulled his cap on his head, and winced with pain as it stirred the bandage.
“Where’s the cowardly rat what hit me?” he demanded.
“Never you mind about ’im,” put in the proprietor of the club—a very fat man with a ponderous watch-chain. “While the excitement was on ’e ’ooked it. You be off, too—I don’t want any more rowing.” Sinking his voice to a faint whisper, he added: “You’d be worse off than the rest of us, ’Awker, should the police ’appen to come.”
“Yes, go home, my good fellow,” urged Jack. “You look ill; and what you need is rest. You’ll be all right in the morning.”
He pressed half a sovereign into the man’s hand—so cleverly that none observed the action—and then slipped back and joined Nevill and Mostyn, who had a slight acquaintance with each other. The three had left the room, and were going downstairs, before Mr. Noah Hawker recovered from his surprise on learning that his gift was gold instead of a silver sixpence. It chanced that he was reduced to his last coppers, and so the half sovereign was a boon indeed. He nudged the elbow of a supercilious looking young gentleman in evening dress who was passing.
“That swell cove who fixed me up—he’s just gone,” he said. “He’s a real gent, he is! Could you tell me his name, sir?”
“Aw, yes, I think I can,” was the drawling reply. “He’s an artist chap, don’t you know! Name of Vernon.”
“Might it be John Vernon?”
“That’s it, my man.”
The name rang in Noah Hawker’s ears, and he repeated it to himself as he stumbled downstairs. He was in such a brown study that he forgot to tip the door-keeper who let him into the street. He pulled his cap lower to hide his bandaged head, and struck off in the direction of Tottenham Court road.
“Funny how I run across that chap!” he reflected. “Vernon—John Vernon—yes, it’s the same, no doubt about it. But he’s only an artist, and I know what artists are. There’s many on ’em, with claw-hammer coats and diamonds in their shirt-fronts, as hasn’t got two quid to knock together. You won’t suit my book, Mr. Vernon—you’re not in the running against the others. It’s a pity, though, for he was a real swell, what I call a gent. But I’ll keep him in mind, and it sort of strikes me I’ll be able to do him a good turn some day.”
Meanwhile, as Noah Hawker walked northward in the direction of Kentish Town, Jack and his companions had reached Piccadilly Circus. Here Mostyn left them, while Jack and Nevill went down Regent street.