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- Yollop - 2/15 -


"No, NOT Smith," hastily and earnestly; "Smilk,--S-m-i-l-k."

"Smilk?"

"Smilk."

"Extraordinary name. I've never heard it before, have you?"

The rascal blinked. "Sure. It was my father's name before me, and my--"

"Look me in the eye!"

"I am lookin' you in the eye. It's Smilk,--Cassius Smilk."

"Sounds convincing," admitted Mr. Yollop. "Nobody would take the name of Cassius in vain, I am sure. As a sensible, discriminating thief, you would not deliberately steal a name like Cassius, now would you?"

"Well, you see, they call me Cash for short," explained Smilk. "That's something I can steal with a clear conscience."

"I perceive you are recovering your wits, Mr. Smilk. You appear to be a most ingenuous rogue. Have you ever tried writing the book for a musical comedy?"

"A--what?"

"A musical comedy. A forty-legged thing you see on Broadway."

Mr. Smilk pondered. "No, sir," he replied, allowing himself a prideful leer; "if I do say it as shouldn't, I'm an honest thief."

"Bless my soul," cried Mr. Yollop delightedly; "you get brighter every minute. Perhaps you have at one time or another conducted a humorous column for a Metropolitan newspaper?"

"Well, I've done my share towards fillin' up the 'lost' column," said Mr. Smilk modestly. "Say, if we're going to keep up this talkfest much longer, I got to let my hands down. The blood's runnin' out of 'em. What are you goin' to do with me? Keep me sittin' here till morning?"

"I'm glad you reminded me of it. I want to call the police."

"Well, I'm not hindering you, am I?"

"In a way, yes. How can I call them and keep an eye on you at the same time?"

"I'll tell what I'll do," said Cassius Smilk obligingly. "I'll take a message 'round to the police station for you."

"Ah! That gives me an idea. You shall telephone to the police for me. If my memory serves me well, Spring 3100 is the number. Or is it Spring 3100 that calls out the fire department? It would be very awkward to call out the fire department, wouldn't it? They'd probably come rushing around here and drown both of us before they found out wer'd made a mistake and really wanted the police."

"All you have to do is to say to Central: 'I want a policeman.'"

"Right you are. That's what the telephone book says. Still I believe Spring 3100--"

"The simplest way to get the police," broke in the burglar, not without hope, "is to fire five shots out of a window as rapidly as possible. They always come for that."

"I see what you are after. You want them to come here and arrest me for violating the Sullivan Law. Don't you know it's against the law in New York to have a revolver on your premises or person? And what's more, you would testify against me, confound you. Also probably have me up for assault and battery. No, Mr. Smilk, your suggestion is not a good one. We will stick to the telephone. Now, if you will be kind enough to fold your arms tightly across your breast,--that's the idea,--and arise slowly to your feet, I will instruct you--Yes, I know it is harder to get up without the aid of the hands than it was to go down, but I think you can manage it. Try again, if you please." Then, as Mr. Smilk sank sullenly back against the wall, apparently resolved not to budge: "I'm going to count three, Cassius. If you are not on your feet at the end of the count, I shall be obliged to do the telephoning myself."

"That suits me," said Cassius grimly.

"Do you object to the smell of powder?"

"Huh?"

"I don't like it myself, but I should, of course, open the windows immediately and air the room out--"

"I'll get up," said Cassius, and did so, clumsily but promptly. "Say, I--I believe you WOULD shoot. You're just the kind of boob that would do a thing like that."

"I dare say I should miss you if I were to fire all five bullets,--but that's neither here nor there. You're on your feet, so--by the way, are you sure this thing is loaded?"

"It wouldn't make any difference if it wasn't. It would go off just the same. They always do when some darn fool idiot is pointin' them at people."

"Don't be crotchetty, Cassius," reproached Mr. Yollop. "Now, if you will just sidle around to the left you will come in due time to the telephone over there on that desk. I shall not be far behind you. Sit down. Now unfold your arms and lean both elbows on the desk. That's the idea. You might keep your right hand exposed,--sort of perpendicular from the elbow up. Take the receiver off the hook and--"

"Oh, I know how to use a telephone all right."

"Now, the main thing is to get Central," said Mr. Yollop imperturbably. "Sometimes it is very difficult to wake them after two o'clock A.M. Just jiggle it if she doesn't respond at once. Seems that jiggling wakes them when nothing else will."

Mr. Yollop, very tall and spare in his pajamas, stood behind the burly Mr. Smilk, the dangling disc almost touching the latter's hunched up shoulders.

"This is a devil of a note," quoth Mr. Smilk, taking down the receiver. "Makin' a guy telephone to the police to come and arrest him."

"I wish I had thought to close that window while you were hors de combat," complained Mr. Yollop shivering. "I'll probably catch my death of cold standing around here with almost nothing on. That wind comes straight from the North Pole. Doesn't she answer?"

"No."

"Jiggle it."

"I did jiggle it."

"What?"

"I said I jiggled it."

"Well, jiggle it again."

"Rottenest telephone service in the world," growled Mr. Smilk. "When you think what we have to pay for telephones these days, you'd think--hello! Hell--lo!"

"Got her?"

"I thought I had for a second, but I guess it was somebody yawning."

"Awning?"

"Say, if you'll hold that thing around so's I can talk at it, you'll hear what I'm saying. How do you expect me to--hello! Central? Central! Hello! Where the hell have you been all--hello! Well, can you beat it? I had her and she got away."

"No use trying to get her now," said Mr. Yollop, resignedly. "Hang up for a few minutes. It makes 'em stubborn when you swear at 'em. Like mules. I've just thought of something else you can do for me while we're waiting for her to make up her mind to forgive you. Come along over here and close this window you left open."

Mr. Smilk in closing the window, looked searchingly up and down the fire escape, peered intently into the street below, sighed profoundly and muttered something that Mr. Yollop did not hear.

"I've got a fur coat hanging in that closet over there, Cassius. We will get it out."

Carefully following Mr. Yollop's directions, the obliging rascal produced the coat and laid it upon the table in the center of the room.

"Turn your back," commanded the owner of the coat, "and hold up your hands." Then, after he had slipped into the coat: "Now if I only had my slippers--but never mind. We won't bother about 'em. They're in my bed room, and probably lost under the bed. They always are, even when I take 'em off out in the middle of the room. Ah! Nothing like a fur coat, Cassius. Do you know what cockles are?"

"No, I don't."

"Well, never mind. Now, let's try Central again. Please remember that no matter how distant she is, she still expects you to look upon her as a lady. No lady likes to be sworn at at two o'clock in the morning. Speak gently to her. Call her Madamoiselle. That always gets them. Makes 'em think if they keep their ears open they'll hear something spicy."

"They general fall for dearie," said Mr. Smilk, taking down the receiver.

"Be good enough to remember that you are calling from my apartment," said Mr. Yollop severely. "Jiggle it."


Yollop - 2/15

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