WHICH MAKES FURTHER MENTION OF A RING
Ravenslee, strolling in leisurely fashion along Tenth Avenue, became aware of a slender, pallid youth whose old-young face was familiar; a cigarette dangled from his pale, thin lips, and his slender hands were hidden in the pockets of his smartly tailored coat. On went Ravenslee, pausing now and then to glance idly into some shop window until, chancing to slip his fingers into a waistcoat pocket, he paused all at once and, drawing thence a ring wrought into the semblance of two clasped hands, drew it upon his finger. Now as he glanced at the ring, his eye gleamed and, smiling as one who has a sudden bright idea, he set off faster than before, striding on light and purposeful feet. But, as he turned a corner, he noticed that the pallid youth was still close behind, wherefore he halted before a shop window where, among other articles of diet, were cans of tomatoes neatly piled into a pyramid. At these he stared, waiting, and presently found the pallid youth at his elbow, who also stared upon the tomato pyramid with half-closed eyes and with smouldering cigarette pendent from thin-lipped mouth. And after they had stared awhile in silence, cheek by jowl, Ravenslee spoke in his pleasant, lazy voice:
“Judging by the labels these tomatoes are everything tomatoes possibly could be.”
“’S right!” murmured the pale one imperturbably.
“Fond of tomatoes?” enquired Ravenslee.
“Aw!” answered his neighbour, “quit foolin’—talk sense!”
“Certainly! Why do you follow me, Soapy?”
Soapy’s eyes grew narrower, and the pendent cigarette stirred slightly.
“Know me, hey?” he enquired.
“Heaven forbid! ’T was a bolt at a venture—a shot in the dark.”
“Talkin’—o’—shootin’,” said Soapy, grimly deliberate, “peanuts ain’t a healthy profesh around here—not fer your kind, it ain’t!”
“Oh, I don’t know,” answered Ravenslee, shaking his head gently at the tomatoes, “I’ve heard of professions even more unhealthy.”
“Well, talking of shooting—yours!”
Soapy’s narrow eyes gleamed with an added viciousness, his pale nostrils expanded, but the retort died upon his curling mouth, his puffy eyelids widened and widened as he stared at the ring on Ravenslee’s finger, and when he spoke his voice was strangely hoarse and eager.
“Say, sport—where’d you—get that—ring?”
“Why do you ask?”
“’Cause I want to know, I guess.”
“Think you’ve seen it before?”
“Sport, I don’t think—I know. I seen it many a time. I’d know it in a million, sure.”
“Where did you see it before?”
“On M’Ginnis’s mitt. It useter belong t’ Bud.”
“Ah!” exclaimed Ravenslee, scowling down at the ring, “you make me wish more than ever that I had throttled him a little harder.”