“If you don’t mind, I’ll take a prowl. Special case, Captain. Mr. Killigrew thought perhaps I’d see a face I knew.”
“Fine sapphires. A chance that they may come int’ this port. They haven’t yet.”
“Your customs inspectors ought to be able to help you,” observed the captain, hiding a smile. “Nothing but motes can slip through their fingers.”
“Sometimes they’re tripped up,” replied Haggerty. “A case like this is due t’ slip through. I’ll take a look.”
Thomas heard no more. A detective. Unobserved, he went down to his stuffy cabin, took off the chamois bag and locked it in his trunk. So long as it remained on board, it was in British territory.
The following day he went into the great city of man-made cliffs. He walked miles and miles. Naturally he sought the haberdashers along Broadway. No employment was offered him: for the reason that he failed to state his accomplishments. But he was in nowise discouraged. He would go back to Liverpool. The ship would sail with full cabin strength, and this trip there would be tips, three sovereigns at least, and maybe more, if his charges happened to be generous.
He tied the chamois bag round his neck again, and turned in. He was terribly tired and footsore. He slept fitfully. At half after nine he sat up, fully awake. His cabin-mate (whom he rather disliked) was not in his bunk. Indeed, the bunk had not been touched. Suddenly Thomas’ hand flew to his breast. The chamois bag was gone!
Iambic and hexameter, farewell! In that moment the poet died in Thomas; I mean, the poet who had to dig his expressions of life out of ink-pots. Things boil up quickly and unexpectedly in the soul; century-old impulses, undreamed of by the inheritor; and when these bubble and spill over the kettle’s lip, watch out. There is an island in the South Seas where small mud-geysers burst forth under the pressure of the foot. Fate had stepped on Thomas.
As he sprang out of his bunk he was a reversion: the outlaw in Lincoln-green, the Yeoman of the Guard, the bandannaed smuggler of the southeast coast. Quickly he got into his uniform. He went about this affair the right way, with foresight and prudence; for he realized that he must act instantly. He sought the purser, who was cordial.
“I’m not feeling well,” began Thomas; “and the doctor is ashore. Where’s there an apothecary’s shop?”
“Two blocks straight out from the pier entrance. You’ll see red and blue lights in the windows. Tummy?”
“I’m subject to dizzy spells. Where’s Jameson?” Jameson was the surly cabin-mate.
“Quit. Gone over to the Cunard. Fool. Like a little money advanced? Here’s a bill, five dollars.”
“Thank you, sir.” Twenty shillings, ten pence. “Doesn’t Jameson take his peg a little too often, sir?”