THE WARDS OF FORTUNE

Soothed by the drone of the Retired Car Conductor’s narrative, and
wearied out with the continuous performance of the night’s adventures,
the Harvard Freshman fell asleep on the wooden bench in his cell at the
Tanks; and it was not until a heavy hand was laid on his shoulder that
he awoke. A bluff policeman was standing over him.

“Your order for release has come, and you can go now! You and your
pardner was asleep, and I clean forgot you.”

The officer had a similar word with the Conductor, and led the two
prisoners out into the corridor. While they were waiting for their
property to be taken from the boxes in which it had been stored, Eli
Cook felt idly in his pocket and drew out a torn scrap of red paper
marked with Chinese writing.

“That’s all they left on me when I was searched,” he said, with a feeble
grin. “Want it for a souvenir of a happy evenin’? It dropped out of a
Chinaman’s pocket yesterday up to Dupont Street, and I picked it up.”

The Freshman took it, in the same spirit of mockery, and stuffed it into
his own pocket to keep company with several pawn tickets. As they went
together into the street the city bells were striking two o’clock.

“Gosh!” Coffin cried, with a burst of his old fervor, “I feel like the
chairman of a woman’s club after an annual election. Where you going to
feed your visage, old man?” he added tentatively. He was out of funds,
hungry and weary. The hundred dollars won from the Klondyker in the
smoking wager, deposited for bail, had, in fact, completely exhausted
his resources. The Conductor, however, refused to take the hint, and
manifested a desire to get away.

“Oh, I got to snoop back to the Beach,” he said. “This has been a hard
day for me, and I dunno how I’m a-goin’ to get even on my hundred if I
have to stand trial. I ain’t exactly hungry, anyway, but perhaps I’ll
stew up some canned stuff out to the cars. Want to come along? You’ll
have to walk, though, and it’s full seven miles through the Park.”

“No, thanks,” said Coffin, dryly. “I’ve got a poke-out coming to me at
nine, and I guess I can wait. I’ll walk up and down, and let the girls
admire me for a season.”

“Well, good-by, then!” said Eli Cook of Carville-by-the-Sea, and he
hurriedly made off down Kearney Street.

The youngster mused. “I shall now endeavor to give the correct imitation
of a thousand-dollar sport in the act of starving to death. I am
wondering, in my simple Japanese way, whether that gentle Klondyker with
my prize money in tow, will ever swim into my ken again. It’s a good
deal like trying to find a pet oyster in a mud flat, but I’ll try my
best. Angels, they say, can do no more. Selah!” With that he walked up
to Gunschke’s cigar store and found the young man who had assisted at
the smoking orgy of the night before. The clerk, however, knew nothing
of the Klondyker’s whereabouts, having never seen the Father of the
Katakoolanat previous to the debauch. The Freshman was in a quandary.

“Say, has your luck changed yet?” the salesman asked. “Last time I
heard, the curve was still rising.”

“By Jove, I had forgotten all about that,” cried Coffin. “Let’s see, I
won my hundred at the wager, then I won my thousand, more or less, in
the Chinese lottery, but then I was pulled, and dropped the hundred at
the Tanks. The grand psychological query is, Do I get that thou’? If I
had a nickel to my name I’d put the delicate question to the Oracle of
the Slot and find out how I stand on Fortune’s Golden Rolls.”

“Oh, I’ll stake you; here you are,” the salesman answered, tossing out a
nickel. “I’d like to know myself. If you’re still winning I’ll take you
out to the race-track and let you do my betting.”

The Freshman pushed the coin down the slot of the poker machine and
jerked the handle. Three treys appeared behind the wire. “Bully!” cried
the salesman. “Here, you draw four cigars!”

“Nay, nay, Pauline!” Coffin exclaimed in disgust. “I wouldn’t eat
another cigar to be crowned King of the Barbary Coast! I can never
endure the smell of tobacco again without being as sea-sick as a cat in
a swing. Much obliged for your charity, but I’ll call it square for the
good omen.”

Irrationally cheered by the portent, James Wiswell Coffin, 3d, wandered
out aimlessly and floated with the throng down towards the cheaper end
of Kearney Street. The cool, green, grassy square at the Old Plaza
attracted him, and he entered the little park.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, the plot hatched by the Hero of Pago Bridge and the deserter
of the Philippines had gone forward without a hitch. Drake and Maidslow
had met Maxie at the Biograph Theatre, and she had consented to visit
Colonel Knowlton and represent Drake as her missing husband, that
Maidslow might be safe from being recognised and apprehended by the
Secret Service men as a deserter. Both husband and wife were affected at
this meeting, after so many years, and it was evident to the Hero that a
reconciliation would be easily arranged. Both were lonely. Maxie had
worked so hard and Maidslow had lived so adventurously that the prospect
of settling down to a peaceful married life attracted them equally. This
was now possible if the legacy of old Max could be collected safely from
the Colonel. Their scheme was nothing less them conspiracy; but, after
all, Maidslow, her real husband, would be the one profited, for he would
receive the money. Maxie’s conscience was assuaged by this
consideration.

At 10.30 that morning Maxie and Drake called upon the Colonel at the
army headquarters and passed the ordeal successfully. The officer was
too busy to spend much time in investigation, and, knowing Maxie as well
as he did, it did not occur to him to suspect fraud. At any rate, the
check for $15,000, which he passed over to Admeh (made payable to Harry
Maidslow) would not be cashed without proper identification, and the
bank would relieve the Colonel of this necessity. He congratulated them
on their reunion, and dismissed them in relief that the responsibility
of his trust was over.

How Maidslow was to cash the check was now the question. It was easily
solved, at a meeting of the three principals in the plot, by the
decision that old Dietrich, the proprietor of the Biograph Theatre,
could identify the payee. He would undoubtedly believe Maxie’s
introduction of Maidslow as her husband, as this time, at least, she
would be speaking the truth. They left Admeh Drake on the sidewalk while
they proceeded to this next step.

The old Dutchman was canny, however. “How do I know dat dis man is your
huspant?” he said. “You say so, Maxie, put I neffer seen him pefore! See
here, didn’t you say Harry Maidslow hat a tattoo mark on his arm
alretty? He hat a girl’s name ’Dotty,’ you tole me once. Lemme see dat
mark, and I vill itentify him, sure! Den I know it’s all right!”

This was easily proved. Maidslow stripped up his sleeve and exhibited
the tattoo mark, and old Dietrich was convinced. He put on his hat to
accompany them to the bank. Excusing himself for a moment, Maidslow
slipped out and spoke to Admeh Drake.

“It’s all right, Drake, we’re going right down to cash the check. You
get away before Dietrich sees you and gets suspicious, and I’ll meet you
with the thousand dollars at Lotta’s Fountain in half an hour!”

Drake walked down Market Street. In a few minutes he saw Maxie,
Maidslow, and the old Dutchman approaching. He kept out of sight while
they passed him, on their way to Montgomery Street, where the bank was
located. Then he commenced his vigil at Lotta’s Fountain.

This is the very hub and centre of San Francisco, in the heart of the
shopping district, and the strategic point for confidence men, tourists,
loiterers, and sports. The three great newspaper buildings form here a
towering group against the sky, and the Palace Hotel, a massive block
honeycombed with windows, is within a stone’s throw. About him eddied
the principal currents of the town, carrying their heterogeneous
collection of humanity. The fountain is an island in the triangular
opening formed by the union of Geary, Kearney, and Market streets, and
each of these important thoroughfares contributed to the liveliness of
the place. Groups of brightly gowned women were awaiting the cable cars
to take them to the Oakland Ferry, cheap actors promenaded up the Rialto
of Market Street, the Geary Street cars swung on the turn-table,
impeding the traffic, and along the sidewalk on Kearney Street the
flower-venders made a vivid splotch of color. The whole place was alive
and bustling, and time went fast with the watcher at the gilded fountain
where no one drank.

When Admeh Drake looked up to the clock tower above his head, he was
surprised to see that it was already a quarter to twelve. He had waited
nearly an hour. He began to be impatient, nervous, suspicious. Maidslow
should have returned with Maxie long before this. Something must have
happened, or else—he grew frightened at the thought—they had given him
the slip, and would avoid paying him the thousand dollars as his share
of the plot. He waited now with less hope. Surely, if they were coming
at all, they would have returned before this. He lost interest in the
passers-by, and watched only for the two who were to bring him his
reward.

The clock struck noon, and the throng was swelled by clerks and business
men released for their lunch hour. One o’clock, and the tide poured back
again. Two, and he grew weary with standing, and sat upon the pedestal
of the Fountain. Three, and he gave up all hope. The excitement which
had kept him up all night relaxed. He was faint and limp from lack of
food and sleep.

So he, too, joined the human current and drifted along Kearney Street
with no set plan of action.

He turned into the Old Plaza, at Portsmouth Square, his eyes caught by a
sparkle of light from the gilded sails of the little bronze ship on the
Stevenson Memorial. He walked nearer to see what it was, and as he
approached he perceived a young man in a red sweater reading the
inscription on the marble shaft. It was the Harvard Freshman.

“_To be honest, to be kind_,” Coffin was reading, “_to earn a little and
to spend a little less, to make upon the whole a family happier for his
presence_”—and then he turned away with a bitter protest in his throat,
to see the Hero of Pago Bridge looking over his shoulder.

“Pretty, ain’t it!” said Admeh Drake, and he, too, looked at the
immortal quotation from the “Christmas sermon.” Had it been written for
him alone, it could not have stung him more fiercely.

“—_To renounce, when that shall be necessary, and not be embittered, to
keep a few friends, but these without capitulation—above all, on the
same grim condition, to keep friends with himself—here is a task for all
that a man has of fortitude and delicacy_.”

He turned to Coffin with despair in his eye, all that was best in him
writhing at these graven words. “Say, what the hell did they stick that
up here for, right where every man that has failed can read it and eat
out his heart?”

Coffin slapped him on the back in sympathy, for even the irrepressible
Freshman seemed for the moment to be touched by the admonitory legend.
But he was not one to be serious for long, and after that one swift
glance into his soul, his customary spirit asserted itself.

“See here,” he said, “this is the way I look at it. You can’t have good
luck with your conscience all the time, any more’n you can with your
purse. Moral: cultivate your forgettery! We meet under the shadow of the
good ship _Bonaventure_, aforesaid ship being full of buccaneers and
sailing over a Sublime Moral Precept, by R. L. S. I doubt if he would
claim he was always such an angel himself if anybody should drive up in
a chariot and ask him. Lastly, my brethren, why be phazed at a dozen
lines of type? Discard your doubts and draw to the glorious flush of
hope. Amen. Let’s have a drink.”

They pledged each other somewhat forlornly in Spring Valley water, and
then Coffin remarked, “By the way, what did you do with the dime Coffee
John gave you? Made a fortune yet?”

“I made a thousand dollars, but I’ve got it to get. I’ve roped her, but
I can’t throw her yet.”

“A thou’?” Coffin exclaimed, “the devil you have! Jupiter, but that’s
queer! Why, that’s my fix, precisely. I got it on the hook all right,
but I couldn’t haul it into the boat.”

Exchanging confidences over the night’s adventures, the two wandered up
to the top of the sloping Plaza, where the back of the Woey Sen Low
restaurant arose, three stories high, an iron balcony projecting from
each tier of windows.

“Let’s come up to the chink’s Delmonico,” suggested the Freshman. “You
can get a great view of the city from up there, and you don’t have to
spend money if you don’t want to.”

They went round to the front entrance, ascended the stairs, and filed
past empty tables, gaining the balcony. As they stood gazing over San
Francisco they heard steps approaching from behind, and two persons came
into the nearest room. Coffin, who was standing with Drake, out of sight
of the new arrivals, peeped round the corner of a porcelain lantern.

“It’s a woman,” he whispered. “And a peach-erlooloo of the first degree,
too, by Jove! Nigger or Kanacker blood, though. Let’s go through and
have a look at her.”

Drake assented. They entered the open doorway and passed carelessly
through the room. A man at the table looked up and nodded.

“Whittaker!” said the Freshman, when they were out of sight, “the
medium, as I exist! I wonder how he ever got into a friendly mix-up with
that chocolate-colored fairy. There was no heroine with raven locks in
mine.”

At this moment Vango appeared and stuck a dirty finger in Coffin’s
buttonhole. The medium’s hair was matted and stringy, his clothes
wrinkled and spotted in a shocking disorder. “Come in here,” he said. “I
want to make you acquainted with a lady friend,” and he escorted the
adventurers where the Quadroon sat, already clad in widow’s weeds.

“Mrs. Moy Kip, let me introduce—Mr.”—here he hesitated, and was
prompted—“Mr. Coffin and Mr. Drake. Set down, gents. This here lady has
suffered recent a sad and tragical bereavement. I was just about to
console her when you passed by, and I hoped you might help distrack her
mind from gloomious thoughts and reflections. The party what has just
passed out, you understand, was a Chinee, but he is now on the happy
side of Jordan, in the spirit spere, and we are some in hopes of having
the pleasure of his society to-night in astral form, if the conditions
is favorable.”

Here he nudged the Freshman under the table, and Coffin passed the hint
to Drake, neither of them knowing exactly what was expected of them.

“Do you speak Chinese, madam?” inquired the Freshman, at a loss how to
begin the conversation. “I’ve often wondered about these signs in here.
I suppose they’re mottoes from Confucius. Perhaps you wouldn’t mind
translating some.” He pointed to several long, narrow strips of colored
paper which hung from the walls.

“Oh, I only know a little Chinese, just about enough to read a common
business letter in the Cantonese dialect,” said the Quadroon.

Coffin recalled the scrap of paper given him by the retired conductor in
the Tanks, and he drew it from his pocket to show to her. The sharp
black eyes of the ex-medium, sharpened by long practice, fastened upon
it, and he darted a skinny hand.

“Here you are!” he cried excitedly to the Quadroon. “I told you I’d find
it, and I done it! Look at that, Mrs. Moy Kip, and see if it ain’t the
very same identical piece of paper you was a-searchin’ for. Oh, I felt
it a-comin’ just now when this gentleman entered into the room. I felt a
wave of self-independent spirit message, and I seen a red aura round his
head, thereby denotin’ he was a Psychie.” Exultant as he was, however,
he looked over his shoulder fearfully as if he dreaded interruption.

The Quadroon had taken another scrap of red paper from her bosom and
tremblingly placed the torn edges of the two together. They fitted
exactly. She suddenly rose with set eyes and mouth, and ran towards the
stairs without a word.

Vango followed her, leaving Drake and Coffin to wonder at the cause of
the excitement. After a few moments the Professor returned trembling,
pale, and crestfallen. He sank into a seat and covered his face with his
hands.

“Mrs. Higgins! Mrs. Higgins!” he moaned. “I just see her out by the
stairs! She wouldn’t let me by! Oh, God, she’s after me again! And that
nigger woman’s gone and I’ve lost her. Think of it, after all I’ve went
through, to lose her just as I was winnin’!”

He looked up haggardly and pounded his fist on the table. “By Jimminy
Christmas! That there piece of paper was worth a thousand dollars,
gents, to me, and I’ve lost it!”




Drake and Coffin exchanged glances of amused surprise, and Vango added
weakly, looking at the Freshman, “Much obliged, I’m sure, Mr. Coffin.”
He was wondering if he would be asked to divide the prize, in case he
got it.

“Oh, don’t mention it, old chap,” Coffin answered, “you’re welcome to
all you can make out of that paper with your flim-flam. That sort of
humbuggery isn’t exactly in my line. But suppose you put us wise as to
the facts in the case.”

The ex-medium, still trembling with the memory of his supernatural fears
and discomfited by the escape of the woman, pulled himself together, and
told of the remarkable series of events which had brought him, that
morning, to Hunter’s Point in a launch containing a Quadroon woman, a
dead Chinaman, a scrap of paper, and $2,000 worth of smuggled opium.

“I’ve been working the widow soft and easy ever since,” he said.
“Gettin’ that first piece of paper was what I incline to denominate a
masterpiece, but this findin’ of the missin’ half right in your pocket
is nothin’ less than inspirational second-sight. She ought to think
herself lucky to have fell in with me at no cost to herself for a
sittin’ whatever. But will she pay up? That’s the question. Niggers is
creditable, but they is also tricky. But anyways, I bet them two Chinese
highbinders is apt to meet Moy Kip on the opposite shore to-night.”

It grew dark as they sat there, and when they had finished their stories
they went out upon the balcony again. The light on the Ferry tower
burned like a star against the waters of the Bay. The street lamps
followed suit, and the night closed in. The three Picaroons were in the
first quiet exhilaration that follows hunger and fatigue. Except for the
Freshman’s broken rest at the Tanks, not one of them had slept since
their meeting the previous evening; not one of them had eaten. Their
eyes were glassy, but not yet sleepy; they were like dead men who could
still walk and speak. A dull fever burned in their veins. Talk, then,
grew faint, and even thought flickered but dimly. There was nothing
positive to look forward to but Coffee John’s invitation to supper at
nine o’clock, so they waited listlessly for the hour. Finally, a
proposal from the indefatigable Coffin to wander through the Chinese
quarter lured them out.

They turned into Ross Alley. This narrow lane of shops and gambling
houses was swarming with passers-by. As the three men entered the
passage, the sound of banging doors preceded them; the outer guards of
the fan-tan resorts, catching sight of white faces and fearing
detectives, were slamming and bolting the entrances.

Before they had gone half the length of the alley, Coffin noticed a
Chinaman in felt hat and blue blouse standing idly by a lamp-post, and
behind him a second man, leaning against a brick wall. The Freshman’s
alert eye awoke and took the two in at a glance, for he noted something
vaguely furtive in their apparently careless attitudes.

Now another Chinese approached the two figures at a rapid pace, holding
one hand hidden in his blouse. A few feet behind him a coolie followed,
looking sharply to the right and left. Coffin was just about to call
Drake’s attention to them, when, without warning, the man by the lamp
whipped out a revolver and fired point blank at the one approaching. The
pistol barked three times in rapid succession, then the weapon was
swiftly handed to the loafer by the wall. It was like the passing of the
ball to the quarter-back in a football game, for, on the instant, these
two and another broke through the crowd and ran in different directions.
As they started, the bodyguard of the wounded man drew his own pistol
and sent a stream of bullets after the fugitives.

The fusillade scattered the crowd in the alley. The Chinese dodged this
way and that, escaping into doors and down cross lanes to avoid the
officers who would soon appear to question them. The Freshman pulled his
companions hurriedly into a little shop, and, whirling them back to the
door, drew their surprised attention to a case of jade ornaments.

“Lay low,” he exclaimed, “the police will be here in a moment, and we
don’t want to be run in and held for witnesses. We couldn’t identify the
chink, anyway. I say let ’em have it out their own way.”

He looked out and saw a plain-clothes detective running down the alley
to where the dead man lay. From the other end of the passage two
officers in uniform came up, sweeping a dozen Chinese in front of them.
One policeman lined the fugitives in front of him, while the other
examined them for weapons. As none were found, the crowd was rapidly
dispersed. The detective looked in at the shop door.

“Did you see the shooting?” he asked.

“We got to the door here just in time to see three men running, but I
didn’t catch their faces,” said Coffin coolly. “What’s the row?”

“Oh, another Tong war,” said the detective. “Moy Kip was shot last
night, and this one is the first one to pay up the score. Of course we
can’t do nothing without no witnesses except this monkey!” and he went
about his business.

“Well,” said Professor Vango, as they passed from the scene, “that’s the
finishin’ conclusion to my picnic. I hope yourn won’t end so tragic.”

“I don’t know,” the Freshman replied, “you may find your dusky beauty
yet. Then Drake has to catch his soubrette, and I would fain discover
the gentle Klondyker. I consider it about horse and horse. Funny! Here
each of us has made a thousand dollars, and not one is any better off
than he was last night, plum broke! That’s what we used to call a
paradox at Harvard, in ’English 13.’ And I’m carnivorously hungry to
boot. I haven’t bitten anything except a cigar since the feed last
night.”

“Nor me, neither,” asserted the Professor.

“Here too!” said Admeh Drake.

“Then it would seem to be up to Coffee John again. He seems to be the
god in this machine. Come on, and we’ll give an imitation of a
three-stamp mill crushing ore!” So saying, still jubilant, still
heartening them with frivolous prattle, the Harvard Freshman piloted his
comrades down Clay Street.

As they passed the old Plaza, Drake looked over his shoulder once or
twice and said, “I reckon we’re being followed, pardners. There’s a
chink been on our trail ever since we turned out of the lane, up yonder.
I hope they ain’t got it in for us because we saw the scrap!”

The soft-footed coolie was half a block behind them, when, without a
word of explanation, Coffin suddenly bolted and ran up Kearney Street.
Vango gave a gasp and clutched the cowboy’s arm.

“What’s the matter?” he whimpered. “Where’s Coffin went? Is he scared?”

“You can search me!” Drake said, philosophically. “I give it up, unless
he’s running to get an appetite for dinner. Don’t you fret, I’ll stand
by you if there’s any trouble.”

Taking the medium’s arm, he walked down Clay Street until they came to
Coffee John’s window. Then, looking round, they saw the Chinaman coming
up to them boldly, with a grin on his face.

“You name Vango?” the coolie said.

“That’s right! What d’you want with him?” the cowboy replied, for the
Professor was too frightened to answer.

The Chinaman felt inside his blouse, while Drake watched for the first
sight of a weapon. Nothing more formidable was brought forth, however,
than a smallish paper-wrapped parcel. Vango took it cautiously. It was
suspiciously heavy.

“Moy Kip wife send,” explained the Chinaman, and retreated up the
street.

The medium, in an agony of excitement, opened the parcel by the light of
the window. It contained fifty golden double eagles. His little beady
black eyes sparkling, he jubilantly entered the restaurant with Drake.

Close on their heels came James Wiswell Coffin, 3d, waving a bunch of
greenbacks above his head. “I got him! Oh, I got the green-eyed
Klondyker all right!” he cried. “He had cashed my lottery ticket, and he
handed me over ten hundred pea-green dollars! Oh, frabjous day, we dine,
we dine to-night!”

Coffee John, who had been conversing with some unseen patron in a tiny,
curtained-off room in the rear of the shop, now came forward and greeted
the Picaroons.

“My word,” he remarked, “yer do look bloomin’ ’appy, reg’lar grinnin’
like a Chinee at a Mission Sabbath School! All but Dryke,” he added,
noticing his favorite’s gloomy looks, in sharp contrast to the delight
of the others. “Wot’s wrong? Ain’t your aig ’atched, too? Well, per’aps
it will, yet. They’s a lydy a-wytin’ darn in thet there room for you.
Been there a ’arf hour an’ is nar nacherly a bit impytient. Looks like a
narce gal, too, if she didn’t put so much flar on her fyce. She may ’ave
good news for yer.”

Drake started before Coffee John finished, and, entering the little
compartment, found Maxie Morrow awaiting him. He held out his hand in
pleased surprise. She offered him a thick envelope in return.

“Oh, I’m in an awful hurry,” she began, “and I haven’t a minute to
spare. I’m afraid you thought we weren’t going to keep our word, but
really, Mr. Drake, we couldn’t help it! I was so sorry to keep you
waiting so long, but, just as we left the Bank, I saw Colonel Knowlton
come in. I was so afraid he’d suspect something, seeing me there with
Harry, instead of with you, and Harry was so afraid the Colonel would
put the Secret Service men on his track, that we jumped on a car and
went right to my house on Bush Street, and Harry has been afraid to show
himself outdoors since. We’re going to try to get away to-morrow to
Southern California, but I was just bound that you should have your
thousand dollars, so I brought it down here. Lucky you told Harry you
were coming to Coffee John’s, wasn’t it? Now, good-by, and good luck to
you!”

With that she rustled out of the restaurant, and Drake joined the group
at the counter.

“Nort by no means!” Coffee John was saying. “Tortoni’s be blowed! If
Coffee John’s peach pie an’ corfee ain’t good enough fer yer to-night,
yer can go and eat withart me. Fust thing, I want to hear the tyles
told. Afore I begin to ’elp yer eat your money, I want to know ’ow it’s
come by! After thet, I don’t sye as I won’t accep’ a invitytion to dine
proper.”

The proprietor was insistent, and though a thousand dollars burned in
each pocket, the Picaroons, so gloriously come into port, sat down to a
more modest repast than had been set in that room the night before.
Between mouthfuls, one after the other told to his benefactor the story
of his lucky dime—the Freshman with a tropic wealth of flowery trope and
imagery, the ex-Medium with unction and self-satisfied glibness, the
Hero of Pago Bridge with his customary simplicity. Not one of them
expected the flagon of morality that was to be broached by their host,
forbye.

For, as the tales developed, Coffee John’s face grew set in sterner
disapproval. Coffin’s story moulded disdain upon the Cockney’s lip—the
recital of Professor Vango altered this expression to scorn—but at the
confession of Admeh Drake the proprietor’s face froze in absolute
contempt, and he arose in a towering wrath.

“See ’ere, gents,” he began, folding his red bare arms, “though w’y I
should call yer thet, w’ich yer by no means ain’t, I don’t know—nar I
see wot good it is to plyce a mistaken charity in kindness! I’ve went
an’ throwed awye me thirty cents on yer, blow me if I ain’t! I said yer
was ’ard cyses, an’ yer _be_ ’ard cyses, an’ so yer’ll nacherly continue
till yer all bloomin’ well jugged for it!

“You, Coffin,” he pointed with severity, “you ’ave conspired against the
laws of this ’ere Styte w’ich forbids a gyme o’ charnce, besides ’avin’
patronized a Chinee lottery, w’ich same is also illegal. You, Vango,
’ave comparnded a felony, by bein’ a receiver o’ stolen goods subjick to
dooty in Federal customs. And you, Dryke, who, bite me if I didn’t ’ave
a soft spot in me ’art for, yer’ve gone an’ went an’ obtayned money
under false pretences, an’ ’arbored an’ abetted a desarter from the
harmy o’ your country, for if you believe that there cock-an’-a-bull
story, I don’t!”

He raised his arms threateningly, like an outraged Jove. “Git art from
under me roof, all o’ yer! Yer no better than lags in the Pen!”

The three Picaroons passed through the door and faded into the darkness.
The Cockney watched them separate, and then reëntering his shop, turned
out the lamp and locked the door.

“I feed no more bums!” said Coffee John.

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