SHORTLY after the fight,
Jerry disappeared for several days. During his absence I lived on short
rations. It rained nearly all of the time and this, with the loss of my
pal, made me desolate.
One dark night I left my
shelter on the dock and, partly from loneliness, partly from hunger,
went from one low saloon to another. My hope of snatching a handful of
free lunch proved slim. Always the watchful eyes of the bartender were
in the way.
Finally, rain-soaked and
disheartened, I lounged into the back room of a low groggery. I sat down
in a dimly lighted corner and fell asleep.
I was aroused by the
voices of two men. They were seated at a near-by table talking in low
tones. Evidently they had not noticed me.
What I overheard caused
me to sit perfectly still. They were planning a robbery, and were
waiting for a third person to join them.
One of them became very
impatient at the delay. He flung himself away from the table and into
the bar-room where he ordered a couple of drinks.
When he returned he
discovered me. I sat with my arms folded on the table and my face buried
With a muttered oath he
grabbed me by the neck and gave me a vigorous shake.
I pretended to be sound
After several shakes from
his not gentle hand, I got up and started to leave the place.
The fellow forced me back
into the chair.
Then he and his pal
looked me over in the dim light, alternately plying me with questions
and talking in a foreign lingo. Satisfied with my answers, they became
decidedly friendly in their manner. One of them got me a drink of
whiskey. Then the other, remarking upon my woe-begone appearance, got me
a handful of bologna sausage from the lunch counter and another drink of
I began to feel better
under the stimulus. This pleased my new friends.
The larger of the two,
whom the other one called Hank, declared I was the very chap they were
looking for; that if I would join them in a certain undertaking I would
never lack either drink or food.
They were going to “crack
a crib” that very night, Hank told me. All I would have to do was to
stand on a special street corner and give them certain signals in case
“I reckon you’re game
enough to do that,” he concluded.
I pointed to the signs of
my late fight and told them about it in detail.
They laughed uproariously
and slapped me on the back.
"You’re the stuff!” cried
“You’ll do!” agreed the
described the house they intended to rob and set the hour for doing it;
named the street-corner for the “look-out;” and gave me the
signal—whistling a few bars of “Yankee Doodle.”
We all had another drink
and left the saloon, one at a time.
On my way to the
appointed place I turned the matter over in my mind.
To go on might mean
Jerry, I knew, would have
nothing to do with the kind of men I was now going to help. .
Jerry had told me-
But Jerry was gone. He
might never come back.
To go on might mean
plenty to eat and good clothes to wear, for some time at least.
Jerry was gone. Who cared
what I did?
What was the world of
men, anyhow? A pack of snarling wolves fighting around some carcass,
each for the biggest share he could get.
I was one of them. I
would get my share.
A clock in a church
steeple boomed out.
It was the hour set by
the robbers to begin their “crib-cracking.”
I had reached the comer.
I glanced up and down the
streets. They were deserted.
A feeling of aching
loneliness came over me. Then--
“Injun, whatever yeh git
aouten this world, yeh’ll have t’ pay f’r.”
I turned and fled down
Canal Street to my place on the dock. Jerry had not come back.
Alone, I crept under the
tarpaulin, out of the rain.