“Friend of yours?” she asked.
“He might have a worse friend,” replied the Lizard non-committally.
“What’s his graft?” asked the girl.
“He ain’t got none except being on the square. It’s funny,” the Lizard philosophized, “but here’s me with a bank roll that would choke a horse, and you probably with a stocking full of dough, and I’ll bet all the money I ever had or ever expect to have if one of us could change places with that poor simp we’d do it.”
“He is a square guy, isn’t he?” said the girl. “You can almost tell it by looking at him. How did you come to know him?”
“Oh, that’s a long story,” said the Lizard. “We room at the same place, but I knew him before that.”
“On Indiana near Eighteenth?” asked the girl.
“How the hell did you know?” he queried.
“I know a lot of things I ain’t supposed to know,” replied she.
“You’re a wise guy, all right, Eva, and one thing I like about you is that you don’t let anything you know hurt you.”
And then, after a pause: “I like him,” she said. “What’s his name?”
The Lizard eyed her for a moment.
“Don’t you get to liking him too much,” he said. “That bird’s the class. He ain’t for any little—”
“Cut it!” exclaimed the girl. “I’m as good as you are and a damn straighter. What I get I earn, and I don’t steal it.”
The Lizard grinned. “I guess you’re right at that; but don’t try to pull him down any lower than he is. He is coming up again some day to where he belongs.”
“I ain’t going to try to pull him down,” said the girl. “And anyhow, when were you made his godfather?”
Jimmy saw Eva almost daily for many weeks. He saw her at her post-meridian breakfast—sober and subdued; he saw her later in the evening, in various stages of exhilaration, but at those times she did not come to his table and seldom if ever did he catch her eye.
They talked a great deal while she breakfasted, and he learned to like the girl and to realize that she possessed two personalities. The one which he liked dominated her at breakfast; the other which he loathed guided her actions later in the evening. Neither of them ever referred to those hours of her life, and as the days passed Jimmy found himself looking forward to the hour when Little Eva would come to Feinheimer’s for her breakfast.
It was Christmas Eve. Elizabeth Compton and Harriet Holden were completing the rounds of their friends’ homes with Christmas remembrances—a custom that they had continued since childhood. The last parcel had been delivered upon the South Side, and they were now being driven north on Michigan Boulevard toward home. Elizabeth directed the chauffeur to turn over Van Buren to State, which at this season of the year was almost alive with belated Christmas shoppers and those other thousands who always seize upon the slightest pretext for a celebration.