“Get out o’ the way! It’s a snide game, anyhow. You’ve got wires on the machine. You’ve got seven hundred o’ my money, and you give me ten! Hell!”
They opened the door for him and he stumbled out into the dark, unlighted hallway. He leaned against the wall, trying to think it out, searching his pockets again and again. Why in hell hadn’t he left some of the money with the bartender? Broke, clean, flat broke! And he had pushed his winnings up to three hundred! He became ugly, now that he fully realized what had happened. He ground his teeth and cursed loudly; he even kicked the door savagely. Then he swung rather than walked down the stairs. He turned into the bar and bought three more whiskies, and was then primed for any deviltry. He was very drunk, but it was a wide-awake drunkenness, cruel and revengeful. He turned into the alley and tried to think of some plan by which he could borrow enough to make a new attempt at fickle fortune. To-morrow he could strike McQuade again, but to-night McQuade wouldn’t listen to him. Every once in a while he would renew the searching of his pockets, but there was only the remainder of the ten the banker had given him.
John and Warrington had played an uninteresting game of billiards at the club, then finally sought the night and tramped idly about the streets. With Warrington it was sometimes his aunt, sometimes the new life that beat in his heart when he saw Patty, sometimes this game he was playing which had begun in jest and had turned to earnest. With John it was the shops, the shops, always and ever the shops. When they spoke it was in monosyllables. Nevertheless it was restful to each of them to be so well understood that verbal expression was not necessary. They had started toward Martin’s on the way home, when Warrington discovered that he was out of cigars. He ran back three or four doors while John proceeded slowly. Just as he was about to cross the alley-way a man suddenly lurched out into the light. He was drunk, but not the maudlin, helpless intoxication that seeks and invites sociability. He was murderously drunk, strong, nervous, excited. He barred Bennington’s way.
“I thought it was you!” he said venomously.
Bennington drew back and started to pass around the man. He did not recognize him. He saw in the action only a man disorderly drunk. But he hadn’t taken two steps before the other’s words stopped him abruptly.
“You’re a millionaire, eh? Well, I’ll soon fix you and your actress and her lover. Take that as a starter!”
He struck Bennington savagely on the cheek-bone. Bennington stumbled back, but managed to save himself from falling. Instantly all the war that was in his soul saw an outlet. He came back, swift as a panther and as powerful. In an instant his assailant was on his back on the pavement, the strong fingers tightening about the wretch’s throat; Bolles was a powerful man, but he had not the slightest chance. Not a sound from either man. There were one or two pedestrians on the opposite side of the street, but either these did not see or would not.