“Man been lookin’ for you—comin’ back, he says. My trick! Hearts, wasn’t it?” (this to his companions).
“Do I know him?” asked Harry with a slight start, pausing on his way to his bedroom upstairs, where he had left his bag of clothes two hours before. Could he have been recognized and shadowed?
“No—don’t think so; he’s a street vendor. Got some China silks to sell—carries his pack on his back and looks as if he’d took up a extry ’ole in his belt. Hungry, I wouldn’t wonder. Wanted to h’ist ’em fur a glass o’ grog an’ a night’s lodgin’, but Cap wouldn’t let him—said you’d be back and might help him. Wasn’t that it, Cap?”—this to the landlord, who nodded in reply.
“How could I help him?” asked Harry, selecting a tallow dip from a row on a shelf, but in a tone that implied his own doubt in the query, as well as his relief, now that the man was really a stranger.
“Well, this is your port, so I ‘ear. Some o’ them high-flyers up ’round the park might lend a hand, may be, if you’d tip ’em a wink, or some o’ their women folks might take a shine to ’em.”
“Looked hungry, did you say?” Harry asked, lighting the dip at an oil lamp that swung near the bar.
“Yes—holler’s a drum—see straight through him; tired too—beat out. You’d think so if you see him. My play—clubs.”
Harry turned to the landlord: “If this man comes in again give him food and lodging,” and he handed him a bank bill. “If he is here in the morning let me see him. I’m going to bed now. Good-night, men!”
Should I lapse into the easy-flowing style of the chroniclers of the period of which I write—(and how often has the scribe wished he could)—this chapter would open with the announcement that on this particularly bleak, wintry afternoon a gentleman in the equestrian costume of the day, and mounted upon a well-groomed, high-spirited white horse, might have been seen galloping rapidly up a country lane leading to an old-fashioned manor house.
Such, however, would not cover the facts. While the afternoon was certainly wintry, and while the rider was unquestionably a gentleman, he was by no manner of means attired in velveteen coat and russet-leather boots with silver spurs, his saddle-bags strapped on behind, but in a rough and badly worn sailor’s suit, his free hand grasping a bundle carried loose on his pommel. As to the horse neither the immortal James or any of his school could truthfully picture this animal as either white or high-spirited. He might, it is true, have been born white and would in all probability have stayed white but for the many omissions and commissions of his earlier livery stable training—traces of which could still be found in his scraped sides and gnawed mane and tail; he might also have once had a certain commendable spirit had not the ups and downs of road life—and they were pretty steep outside Kennedy Square—taken it out of him.