“Gink in number two wants a bottle o’ gin. He’s th’ kind. Layer o’ ale an’ then his quart. Th’ real souse.”
“So that’s his game, huh?” said the bartender. “How’s th’ gink in number four?”
“Dead t’ th’ world.”
“Tip th’ Sneak. There may be a chancet t’ roll ’em both. Here y’ are. Soak ’im two-fifty.”
Half an hour longer Thomas waited. Then he rose and tiptoed to the door, drawing it back without the least sound. Jameson’s had not latched. Taking a deep long breath (strange, how one may control the heart by this process!) Thomas crossed the corridor and entered the other room; entered prepared for any emergency. If Jameson awoke, so much the worse for him. The gods owe it to the mortals they keep in bondage to bestow a grain of luck here and there along the way to Elysium or Hades. His cabin-mate’s stentorian breathing convinced the trespasser that it was the stupidest, heaviest kind of sleep.
For a moment he looked down at the man contemptuously. To have befuddled his brain at such a time! Or was it because the wretch knew that he, Thomas, would not dare cry out over his loss? He stepped behind the sleeping man. He wanted to fall upon him, beat him with his fists. Ah, if he had not found him!
The night, fortunately, was warm and thick. Jameson had carelessly thrown open his coat and vest. Underneath he wore the usual sailor-jersey. Thomas steeled his arms. With one hand he pulled the roll collar away from the man’s neck and with the other sought for the string: sought in vain. The light, the four drab walls, the haze of tobacco smoke, all turned red.
“Where is it, you dog? Quick!” Thomas shook the man. “Where is it? Quick, or I’ll throttle you!”
“Lemme ’lone!” Jameson sagged toward the table again.
Thomas bent him back ruthlessly and plunged a hand into the inside pocket of the man’s coat. The touch of the chamois-bag burned like fire. He pulled it out and transferred it to his own pocket and made for the door. He did not care now what happened. Found! Woe to any one who had the ill-luck to stand between him and the exit.
Outside the door stood the shabby waiter, grinning cheerfully. He was accompanied by a hulking, shifty-eyed creature.
“Roll ‘im, ol’ sport? Caught in th’ act, huh?” gibed the waiter.
Thomas had the right idea. He struck first. The waiter crashed against the wall. The hulking, shifty-eyed one fared worse. He went down with his face to the cracks in the floor. Thomas dashed for the exit.
Outside he found himself in a kind of court. He ran about wildly, like a rat in a trap. He plumped into the alley, accidentally. Down this he fled, into the street. A voice called out peremptorily to him to stop, but he went on all the faster, swift as a hare. He doubled and circled through this street and that until at last he came out into a broad, brilliant thoroughfare. An iron-pillared railway reared itself skyward and trains clamored past. Bloomsbury: millions of years and miles away! He would wake up presently, with the sunlight (when it shone) pouring into his room, and the bright geraniums on the outside window-sill bidding him good morning.