“Would yer like to know, y’ old ——! Then yer shall, —— soon! I’m —— if I don’t tell jist the —— truth, an’ take the —— consequences. It was Slimy as give it me, an’ if yer want to know where Slimy got it, yer ’ll ’ave to —— well find out, ’cos I don’t know myself.”
“And how came Slimy to give you half a sovereign?” Mr. Woodstock at once interposed, speaking with authority.
“Is that you, Mr. Woodstock?” exclaimed the boy, turning round suddenly at the sound of the voice. “Now, look ‘ere, I’m a-goin’ to make a —— clean breast of it. This ’ere —— bloke’s been a ringin’ the changes on me; I’ll show him up, an’ —— well chance it. Slimy give me a quid afore he took his —— hook.”
The lad had clearly been drinking, but had not yet reached the incoherent stage. He spoke in great excitement, repeating constantly his determination to be revenged upon the tobacconist at all costs. It was with difficulty that Mr. Woodstock kept him to the point.
“Why Slimy give it me? Well, I’ll jist tell yer, Mr. Woodstock. It was to do a job for him, which I never done it after all. Slimy told me as ’ow I was to go to your orffice at ten o’clock last night, ’an tell you from him as he’d no more ’casion for his room, so he’d sent yer the key, an’ yer’d better come as soon as possible an’ see as he’d left everything square behind him, an’ ’cos he was afraid he’d locked in a friend o’ yourn by mistake an’ in his hurry.”
“And why the devil didn’t you come?” exclaimed Abraham, looking at him in angry surprise.
“‘Cos why, Mr. Woodstock? Well, I’ll tell yer just the bloomin’ truth, an’ charnce it. I loss the key out o’ my pocket, through ‘avin’ a —— hole in it, so I thought as ’ow I’d best just say nothink about neither Slimy nor his room, an’ there y’ave it!”
Abraham was out of the shop again on the instant.
“I’ve found him,” he said to Ida. “A house round there in the court.”
She walked quickly by his side, a cluster of people following them. Fortunately, a policeman was just coming from the opposite end of Litany Lane, and Mr. Woodstock secured his services to keep the mob from entering the house where Slimy had lived. As soon as they got inside, the old man begged Ida to remain in a room on the ground floor whilst he went upstairs, and this she consented to do. Reaching the garret, he tried the handle of the door, without effect. Knocking and calling produced no response, and within all was perfectly quiet. Hesitating no longer, he drew back as far as the wall would allow him, and ran with his foot against the door. The rotten woodwork cracked, and a second onset forced the lock away. In the middle of the floor Waymark lay, just as Slimy had left him nearly twenty-four hours ago. Abraham scarcely ventured to draw near; there was no motion in the fettered body, and he dreaded to look closely at the face. Before he could overcome this momentary fear, there was a quick step behind him, and, with a smothered cry, Ida had rushed into the room. She was on her knees beside Waymark, her face close down to his.