On he went, his oven whistling soft and shrill, his long legs striding between the shafts, until, reaching a certain bleak corner, he halted again, though to be sure there were few people hereabouts and no children. But upon the opposite corner was a saloon, with a large annex and many outbuildings behind, backing upon the river, and Ravenslee, lounging on the handles of his barrow, examined this unlovely building with keen eye from beneath his hat brim, for above the swing doors appeared the words:
He was in the act of lighting his pipe when the doors of the saloon were swung open, and three men came out, in one of whom he recognised the tall, powerful figure and broad shoulders of Bud M’Ginnis; his companions were remarkable, but in very opposite ways, the one being slender and youthful and very smartly dressed, with a face which, despite its seeming youth, was strangely haggard and of an unhealthy pallor, while the other was plethoric, red-faced and middle-aged, a man hoarse of voice and roughly clad, and Ravenslee noticed that this fellow lacked the upper half of one ear.
“Saturday night, mind!” said M’Ginnis, loud and authoritative.
“But say, Bud,” demanded the smartly dressed youth, “what’s coming to us on that last deal?”
“Nix—that’s what you get, Soapy!” The youth’s pale cheek grew livid.
“So you’ve got the deck stacked against us, eh, Bud?” said he.
“I got a close mouth, Soapy, I guess you don’t want me t’ open it very wide—now or any other old time. Saturday night, mind!” and nodding, M’Ginnis turned away. The youth looked after him with venomous eyes, and his right hand made a sinister movement toward his hip pocket.
“Aw—quit it; are ye crazy?” grunted his companion. “Bud’s got us cinched.”
“Got us—hell!” snarled the youth. “Bud’s askin’ for it, an’ some day he’s goin’ t’ get it—good!”
Toward afternoon, Ravenslee was trundling light-heartedly eastward, his barrow emptied to the last peanut. Having reached Fifth Avenue, he paused to mop his perspiring brow when a long, low automobile, powerfully engined, that was creeping along behind, pulled up with a sudden jerk, and its driver, whose immense shoulders were clad in a very smart livery, pushed up the peak of his smart cap to run his fingers through his close-cropped hair, while his mild blue eyes grew very wide and round.
“Crikey!” said he at last. “Is that you, sir, or ain’t it?”
“How much?” demanded Ravenslee gruffly.
“Crumbs!” said the chauffeur. “Sir, if you—ain’t you, all I say is—I ain’t me!”
“Aw—what’s bitin’ ye, bo?” growled Ravenslee.
“Well, if this ain’t the rummest go, I’m a perisher!”
“Say, now, crank up d’ machine an’ beat it while d’ goin’ ’s good. How’s that, Joe?”
“Lord, Mr. Ravenslee—so you are my guv’nor, and blow me tight—shoving a barrer! I knowed it was you, sir; leastways I knowed your legs an’ the set o’ them shoulders, but—with a barrer! Excuse me, sir, but the idea o’ you pushing a perishing peanut barrer so gay an’ ’appy-’earted—well, all I can say is love-a-duck!”