“I wonder,” he mused, “if I couldn’t put something over in the way of high finance here,” and, acting upon the inspiration, he entered the dingy little shop. When he emerged twenty minutes later he wore a shabby and rather disreputable suit of hand-me-downs, but he had two silver dollars in his pocket.
When Jimmy returned to his room that night it was with a full stomach, but with the knowledge that he had practically reached the end of his rope. He had been unable to bring himself to the point of writing his father an admission of his failure, and in fact he had gone so far, and in his estimation had sunk so low, that he had definitely determined he would rather starve to death now than admit his utter inefficiency to those whose respect he most valued.
As he climbed the stairway to his room he heard some one descending from above, and as they passed beneath the dim light of a flickering gas-jet he realized that the other stopped suddenly and turned back to look after him as Jimmy continued his ascent of the stairs; and then a low voice inquired:
“Say, bo, what you doin’ here?”
Jimmy turned toward the questioner.
“Oh!” he exclaimed as recognition of the other dawned slowly upon him. “It’s you, is it? My old and esteemed friend, the Lizard.”
“Sure, it’s me,” replied the Lizard. “But what you doin’ here? Looking for an assistant general manager?”
“Don’t rub it in,” he said, still smiling.
The other ascended toward him, his keen eyes appraising him from head to foot.
“You live here?” he asked.
“Yes,” replied Jimmy; “do you?”
“Sure, I been livin’ here for the last six months.”
“That’s funny,” said Jimmy; “I have been here about two months myself.”
“What’s the matter with you?” asked the Lizard. “Didn’t you like the job as general manager?”
“Forget it,” he admonished.
“Where’s you room?” asked the Lizard.
“Up another flight,” said Jimmy. “Won’t you come up?”
“Sure,” said the Lizard, and together the two ascended the stairs and entered Jimmy’s room. Under the brighter light there the Lizard scrutinized his host.
“You been against it, bo, haven’t you?” he asked.
“I sure have,” said Jimmy.
“Gee,” said the other, “what a difference clothes make! You look like a regular bum.”
“Thanks,” said Jimmy.
“What you doin’?” asked the Lizard.
“Lose your job?”
“I quit it,” said Jimmy. “I’ve only worked a month since I’ve been here, and that for the munificent salary of ten dollars a week.”
“Do you want to make some coin?” asked the Lizard.
“I sure do,” said Jimmy. “I don’t know of anything I would rather have.”
“I’m pullin’ off something to-morrow night. I can use you,” and he eyed Jimmy shrewdly as he spoke.