Nevertheless I was quite interested in the bits of pickpocket argot that floated across to us, expressions like “crossing the mit,” “nipping a slang,” a “mouthpiece,” “making a holler” and innumerable other choice bits as unintelligible to me as “Beowulf.”
After a few minutes the woman got up and went out, leaving the man still sitting at the table. Of course it was none of my business what they were doing, I suppose, but I could not help being interested.
That diversion being ended, I joined Kennedy in his scrutiny of Harris and his choice friend. Of course at our distance it was absolutely impossible to gain any idea of what they were talking about, and indeed our chief concern was not to attract any attention. Whatever it was, they were very earnest about it and paid no attention to us.
The dancing had ceased and the two “artists” were entertaining the select audience with some choice bits of ragtime. We could see Ike the Dropper and Dr. Harris still talking.
Suddenly Kennedy nudged me. I looked up in time to see Dr. Harris reach into his inside breast pocket again and quietly slip out a package much like that which we had already seen him hand to Marie at the Futurist. Ike took it, looked at it a moment with some satisfaction, then stuffed it down carefully into the right-hand outside pocket of his coat.
“I wonder what that is that Harris seems to be passing out to them?” mused Craig.
“Drugs, perhaps,” I ventured offhand.
“Maybe. I’d like to know for certain.”
Just then Harris and Ike rose and walked down on the other side of the place toward the door. Kennedy turned his head so that even if they should look in our direction they would not see his face. I did the same. Fortunately neither seemed interested in the other occupants. Harris having evidently fulfilled his mission, whether of delivering the package or receiving news which Ike seemed to be pouring into his ear, had but one thought, to escape from a place which was evidently distasteful to him. At the door they paused for a moment and spoke with the proprietor. He nodded reassuringly once or twice to Dr. Harris, much to the relief, I thought, of that gentleman.
Kennedy was chafing under the restraint which kept him in the background and prevented any of his wizardry of mechanical eavesdropping. I fancied that his roving eye was considering various means of utilizing his seemingly inexhaustible ingenuity if occasion should arise.
At last Harris managed to shake hands good-bye and disappeared up the steps to the sidewalk still followed by Ike.
Kennedy leaned over and looked the “dip” sitting alone back of us squarely in the face.
“Would you like to make twenty-five dollars—just like that?” he asked with a quick gesture that accorded very well with the slang.
The man looked at him very suspiciously, as if considering what kind of new game this was.