I looked around me and saw that a great crowd had collected as if by magic, for this city of ten millions of people so swarms with inhabitants that the slightest excitement will assemble a multitude in a few minutes. I noticed, too, in the midst of the mob, a uniformed policeman. The driver saw him also, and, recovering his courage, cried out, “Arrest him—arrest him.” The policeman seized me by the collar. I observed that at that instant the beggar whispered something in his ear: the officer’s hand released its hold upon my coat. The next moment the beggar cried out, “Back! Back! Look out! Dynamite!” The crowd crushed back on each other in great confusion; and I felt the beggar dragging me off, repeating his cry of warning—“Dynamite! Dynamite!”—at every step, until the mob scattered in wild confusion, and I found myself breathless in a small alley. “Come, come,” cried my companion, “there is no time to lose. Hurry, hurry!” We rushed along, for the manner of the beggar inspired me with a terror I could not explain, until, after passing through several back streets and small alleys, with which the beggar seemed perfectly familiar, we emerged on a large street and soon took a corner elevator up to one of the railroads in the air which I have described. After traveling for two or three miles we exchanged to another train, and from that to still another, threading our way backward and forward over the top of the great city. At length, as if the beggar thought we had gone far enough to baffle pursuit, we descended upon a bustling business street, and paused at a corner; and the beggar appeared to be looking out for a hack. He permitted a dozen to pass us, however, carefully inspecting the driver of each. At last he hailed one, and we took our seats. He gave some whispered directions to the driver, and we dashed off.
“Throw that out of the window,” he said.
I followed the direction of his eyes and saw that I still held in my hand the gold-mounted whip which I had snatched from the hand of the driver. In my excitement I had altogether forgotten its existence, but had instinctively held on to it.
“I will send it back to the owner,” I said.
“No, no; throw it away: that is enough to convict you of highway robbery.”
I started, and exclaimed:
“Nonsense; highway robbery to whip a blackguard?”
“Yes. You stop the carriage of an aristocrat; you drag a valuable whip out of the hand of his coachman; and you carry it off. If that is not highway robbery, what is it? Throw it away.”
His manner was imperative. I dropped the whip out of the window and fell into a brown study. I occasionally stole a glance at my strange companion, who, with the dress of extreme poverty, and the gray hair of old age, had such a manner of authority and such an air of promptitude and decision.
After about a half-hour’s ride we stopped at the corner of two streets in front of a plain but respectable-looking house. It seemed to be in the older part of the town. My companion paid the driver and dismissed him, and, opening the door, we entered.