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- Yollop - 3/15 -
Mr. Smilk jiggled it. "I guess she's still mad."
"Jiggle it slowly, tenderly, caressingly. Sort of seductively. Don't be so savage about it."
"Hello! Central? What number do I have to call to get Spring 3100? ... I'm not trying to be fresh: ... Yes, that's what I want ... I know the book says to tell you 'I want to call a policeman' but-- ... Yes, there's a burglar in my apartment and I want you to--What's that? ... I don't want to go to bed. ... Say, now YOU'RE gettin' fresh. You give me police--"
"Tell her I've got you surrounded," whispered Mr. Yollop.
"Hello! Hell--lo! Central!"
"Ah, Mademoiselle! Pardon my--"
Voice at the other end of the wire: "Ring off! You've got wrong number. This is police headquarters." Audible sound of distant receiver being slapped upon its hook.
"Gee whiz! Now, we're up against it, Mister. We'll be all night gettin' Central again."
"Be patient, Cassius. Start all over again. Ask for the morgue this time. That will make her realize the grave danger you are in."
"Say, I wish you'd put that gun in your pocket. It makes the goose flesh creep out all over me. I'm not going to try to get away. Give you my word of honor I ain't. You seem to have some sort of idea that I don't want to be arrested."
"I confess I had some such idea, Cassius."
"Well, I don't mind it a bit. Fact is, I've been doin' my best to get nabbed for the last three months."
"Sure. The trouble is with the police. They somehow seem to overlook me, no matter how open I am about it. I suppose I've committed twenty burglaries in the past three months and I'll be cussed if I can make 'em understand. Take to-night, for instance. I clumb up that fire escape,--this is the third floor, ain't it?--I clumb up here with a big electric street light shinin' square on my back, --why, darn the luck, I had to turn my back on it 'cause the light hurt my eyes,--and there were two cops standin' right down below here talkin' about the crime wave bein' all bunk, both of 'em arguin' that the best proof that there ain't no crime wave is the fact that the jails are only half full, showin' that the city is gettin' more and more honest all the time. I could hear 'em plain as anything. They were talkin' loud, so as to make everybody in this buildin' rest easy, I guess. I stopped at the second floor and monkeyed with the window, hopin' to attract their attention. Didn't work. So I had to climb up another flight. This window of yours was up about six inches, so there wasn't anything for me to do but to raise it and come in. What I had in mind was to stick my head out after a minute or two and yell 'thieves', 'police', and so on. Then before I knowed what was happenin', you walks in, switches on the light, and comes straight over and biffs me in the jaw. Does that look as if I was tryin' to avoid arrest?"
"That's a very pretty story, Cassius, and no doubt will make a tremendous hit with the jury, but what were you doing with a loaded revolver in your hand, and why were you so full of vituperation,--I mean, what made you swear so when I--"
"You let somebody hit you a wallop on the jaw and bang your head against the wall and dance on your ribs, and you'll cuss worse than I did."
"But,--about the revolver?"
"Well, to be honest with you, I probably would have shot you if I hadn't been so low in my mind. I won't deny that. It's a sort of principle with us, you see. No self-respecting burglar wants to be captured by the party he's tryin' to rob. Its so damn' mortifyin'. Besides, if that sort of thing happens to you, the police lose all kinds of respect for you and try to use you as a stool-pigeon, if you know what that means."
"This is most interesting, I must say. I should like to hear more about it, Mr. Smilk. I dare say we can have quite a long and edifying chat while we are waiting for the police to respond to our call for help. In the meantime, you might see if you can get them now. Spring, three one hundred."
"As I was sayin' awhile ago, would you mind puttin' that gun in your pocket?"
"While you've been chinning, Cassius, I have been making a most thrilling and amazing experiment. Do you call this thing under here a trigger?"
"Yes. Don't monkey with it, you--you--"
"I've been pressing it,--very gently and cautiously, of course,--to see just how near I can come to making it go off without actually--"
"For God's sake! Cut that--Hey, Central! Give me police headquarters again. ... Lively, please. ... Yes, it's life or death. ... Come on, Mademoiselle,--please!"
"That's the way," complimented Mr. Yollop.
"By gosh, nobody ever wanted the police more than I do at this minute," gulped Mr. Smilk. He was perspiring freely. "Hello! Police headquarters? ... Hustle someone to--to--(over his shoulder to Mr. Yollop, in a whisper,)--quick! What's the number of this,--"
"418 Sagamore Terrace."
Into the transmitter: "To 418 Sagamore Terrace, third floor front. Burglar. Hurry up!"
Telephone: "What's yer name?"
Smilk, to Yollop: "What is my name?"
Mr. Yollop: "Crittenden Yollop."
Smilk, to telephone: "Crittelyum Yop."
Telephone, languidly: "Spell it."
Smilk: "Aw, go to--"
Mr. Yollop: "After me now,--Y-o-l-l-o-p."
Telephone: "First name."
Smilk, prompted. "C-r-i-t-t-e-n-d-e-n."
Telephone, after interval: "What floor?"
Telephone: "Are you sure it's a burglar, or is it just a noise somewhere?"
Smilk: "It's a burglar. He's got me covered."
Telephone: "What's that?"
Smilk: "I say, I've got him covered. Hurry up or he'll blow my head off--"
Telephone: "Say, what IS this? Get back to bed, you. You're drunk."
Smilk: "I'm as sober as you are. Can't you get me straight? I tell you I beat his head off. He's down and out,--but---"
Telephone: "All right. We'll have someone there in a few minutes. Did you say Yullup?"
Smilk: "No. I said hurry up."
"The thing that's troubling me now," said Mr. Yollop, as Smilk hung up the receiver and twisted his head slightly to peek out of the corner of his eye, "is how to get hold of my slippers. You've no idea how cold this floor is."
"If it's half as cold as the sweat I'm---"
"We're likely to have a long wait," went on the other, frowning. "It will probably take the police a couple of hours to find this building, with absolutely no clue except the number and the name of the street."
"I'll tell you what you might do, Mr. Scollop, seein' as you won't trust me to go in and find your slippers for you. Why don't you sit on your feet? Take that big arm chair over there and--"
"Splendid! By jove, Cassius, you are an uncommonly clever chap. I'll do it. And then, when the police arrive, we'll have something for them to do. We'll let them see if they can find my slippers. That ought to be really quite interesting."
"There's something about you," said Mr. Smilk, not without a touch of admiration in his voice, "that I simply can't help liking."
"That's what the wolf said to Little Red Riding-Hood, if I remember correctly. However, I thank you, Cassius. In spite of the thump I gave you and the disgusting way in which I treated you, a visitor in my own house, you express a liking for me. It is most gratifying. Still, for the time being, I believe we can be much better friends
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