“See here!” Cohen withdrew his arm from the other’s grasp angrily. “You can’t freeze me out of this claim with bogey stuff. You’re listed, my lad, and you know it. Chief Inspector Kerry is your pet nightmare. But if he walked in here right now I could ask him to have a drink. I wouldn’t but I could. You’ve got the wrong angle, Jim. Lala likes me fine, and although she doesn’t say much, what she does say is straight. I’ll ask her to-night about the Chink.”
“Then you’ll be a damned fool.”
“I say you’ll be a damned fool. I’m warning you, Freddy. There are Chinks and Chinks. All the boys know old Huang Chow has got a regular gold mine buried somewhere under the floor. But all the boys don’t know what I know, and it seems that you don’t either.”
“What is that?”
Jim Poland bent forward more urgently, again seizing Cohen’s wrist, and:
“Huang Chow is a mighty big bug amongst the Chinese,” he whispered, glancing cautiously about him. “He’s hellish clever and rotten with money. A man like that wants handling. I’m not telling you what I know. But call it fifty-fifty and maybe you’ll come out alive.”
The brow of Diamond Fred displayed beads of perspiration, and with a blue silk handkerchief which he carried in his breast pocket he delicately dried his forehead.
“You’re an old hand at this stuff, Jim,” he muttered. “It amounts to this, I suppose; that if I don’t agree you’ll queer my game?”
Jim Poland’s brow lowered and he clenched his fists formidably. Then:
“Listen,” he said in his hoarse voice. “It ain’t your claim any more than mine. You’ve covered it different, that’s all. Yours was always the petticoat lay. Mine’s slower but safer. Is anyone else in with you?”
“Then we’ll double up. Now I’ll tell you something. I was backing out.”
“What? You were going to quit?”
“Because the thing’s too dead easy, and a thing like that always looks like hell to me.”
Freddy Cohen finished his glass of whisky.
“Wait while I get some more drinks,” he said.
In this way, then, at about the hour of ten on a stuffy autumn night, in the crowded bar of that Wapping public-house, these two made a compact; and of its outcome and of the next appearance of Cohen, the Jewish-American cracksman, within the ken of man, I shall now proceed to tell.
THE END OF COHEN
“I’ve been expecting this,” said Chief Inspector Kerry. He tilted his bowler hat farther forward over his brow and contemplated the ghastly exhibit which lay upon the slab of the mortuary. Two other police officers—one in uniform—were present, and they treated the celebrated Chief Inspector with the deference which he had not only earned but had always demanded from his subordinates.