Among others, the man named Slimy just managed to hold his footing. Times were hard with Slimy, that was clear; still, he somehow contrived to keep no more than a fortnight behind with his rent. Waymark was studying this creature, and found in him the strangest matter for observation; in Slimy there were depths beyond Caliban, and, at the same time, curious points of contact with average humanity, unexpectedly occurring. He was not ungrateful for the collector’s frequent forbearance, and, when able to speak coherently, tried at times to show this. Waymark had got into the habit of sitting with him in his room for a little time, whenever he found him at home. Of late, Slimy had seemed not quite in his usual health; this exhibited itself much as it would in some repulsive animal, which suffers in captivity, and tries to find a remote corner when pains come on. At times Waymark experienced a certain fear in the man’s presence; if ever he met the dull glare of that one bleared blood-shot eye, a chill ran through him for a moment, and he drew back a little. Personal uncleanliness made Slimy’s proximity at all times unpleasant; and occasionally his gaunt, grimed face grew to an expression suggestive of disagreeable possibilities.
On the present day, Waymark was told by a woman who lived on the ground-floor that Slimy had gone out, but had left word with her, in case the collector called, that he should be back in less than half-an-hour. Doubtless this meant that the rent was not forthcoming. The people who lived on the first floor were out as usual, but had left their rent. Of the two rooms at the top, one was just now vacant. Waymark went on to the two or three houses that remained. On turning back, he met Slimy at the door; the man nodded in his wonted way, grinning like a grisly phantom, and beckoned Waymark to follow him upstairs. The woman below had closed her door again, and in all probability no one observed the two entering together.
Waymark sat down amid the collection of nondescript articles which always filled the room, and waited for the tenant to produce his rent. Slimy seemed to have other things in mind. After closing the door, he too had taken a seat, upon a heap of filthy sacking, and was running his fingers through the shock of black hair which made his beard. Waymark examined him. There was no sign of intoxication, but something was evidently working in the man’s mind, and his breath came quickly, with a kind of asthmatic pant, from between his thin lips, still parted in the uncanny grin.