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- Yollop - 6/15 -
say,--and I'll promise to send for it some night when you're out,--"
"No use, Cassius," broke in Mr. Yollop, firmly. "I'm deaf to your entreaties. Permit me to paraphrase a very well-known line. 'None so deaf as him who will not hear.'"
"If I speak very slowly and distinctly don't you think you could hear me if I was to offer to split the wad even with you,--fifty-fifty,--no questions asked?" inquired Cassius, rather wistfully.
"See here," exclaimed Mr. Yollop, irritably; "you got me in this position and I want you to get me out of it. While I've been squatting here listening to you, they've both gone to sleep and I'm hanged if I can move 'em. I never would have dreamed of sitting on them if you hadn't put the idea into my head, confound you."
"Let 'em hang down for a while," suggested Mr. Smilk. "That'll wake 'em up."
"Easier said than done," snapped the other. He managed, however, to get his benumbed feet to the floor and presently stood up on them. Mr. Smilk watched him with interest as he hobbled back and forth in front of the desk. "They'll be all right in a minute or two. By Jove, I wish my sister could have heard all you've been saying about prisons and paroles and police. I ought to have had sense enough to call her. She's asleep at the other end of the hall."
"I hate women," growled Mr. Smilk. "Ever since that pie-faced dame got me chucked out of Sing Sing,--say, let me tell you something else she done to me. She gave me an address somewhere up on the East Side and told me to come and see her as soon as I got out. Well, I hadn't been out a week when I went up to see her one night,--or, more strictly speakin', one morning about two o'clock. What do you think? It was an empty house, with a 'for rent' sign on it. I found out the next day she'd moved a couple of weeks before and had gone to some hotel for the winter because it was impossible to keep any servants while this crime wave is goin' on. The janitor told me she'd had three full sets of servants stole right out from under her nose by female bandits over on Park Avenue. I don't suppose I'll ever have another chance to get even with her. Everything all set to bind and gag her, and maybe rap her over the bean a couple of times and--say, can you beat it for rotten luck? She--she double-crossed me, that's what she--"
A light, hesitating rap on the library door interrupted Mr. Smilk's bitter reflection.
"Some one at the door," the burglar announced, after a moment. Mr. Yollop had failed to hear the tapping.
"You can't fool me, Cassius. It's an old trick but it won't work. I've seen it done on the stage too many times to be caught napping by,--"
"There it goes again. Louder, please!" he called with considerable vehemence and was rewarded by a scarcely audible tapping indicative not only of timidity but of alarm as well--"Say," he bawled, "you'll have to cut out that spirit rapping if you want to come in. Use your night-stick!"
"Ah, the police at last," cried Mr. Yollop. "You'd better take this revolver now, Mr. Smilk," he added hastily. "I won't want 'em to catch me with a weapon in my possession. It means a heavy fine or imprisonment." He shoved the pistol across the desk. "They wouldn't believe me if I said it was yours."
A sharp, penetrating rat-a-tat on the door. Mr. Smilk picked up the revolver.
"You bet they wouldn't," said he. "If I swore on a stack of bibles I let a boob like you take it away from me, they'd send me to Matteawan, and God knows,--"
"Come in!" called out Mr. Yollop.
The door opened and a plump, dumpy lady in a pink peignoir, her front hair done up in curl-papers stood revealed on the threshold blinking in the strong light.
"Goodness gracious, Crittenden," she cried irritably, "don't you know what time of night it--"
She broke off abruptly as Mr. Smilk, with a great clatter, yanked his remaining foot from the drawer and arose, overturning the swivel-chair in his haste.
"Well, for the love of--" oozed from his gaping mouth. Suddenly he turned his face away and hunched one shoulder up as a sort of shield.
"It's long past three o'clock," went on the newcomer severely. "I'm sorry to interrupt a conference but I do think you might arrange for an appointment during the day, sir. My brother has not been well and if ever a man needed sleep and rest and regular hours, he does. Crittenden, I wish you--"
"Cassius," interrupted Mr. Yollop urbanely, "this is my sister, Mrs. Champney. I want you to repeat--Turn around here, can't you? What's the matter with you?"
"Don't order me around like that," muttered Mr. Smilk, still with his face averted. "I've got the gun now and I'll do as I damn' please. You can't talk to me like--"
"Goodness! Who is this man?" cried the lady, stopping short to regard the blasphemer with shocked, disapproving eyes. "And what is he doing with a revolver in his hand?"
"Give me that pistol,--at once," commanded Mr. Yollop. "Hand it over!"
"Not on your life," cried Mr. Smilk triumphantly. He faced Mrs. Champney. "Take off them rings, you. Put 'em here on the desk. Lively, now! And don't yelp! Do you get me? DON'T YELP!"
Mrs. Champney stared unblinkingly, speechless.
"Put up your hands, Yollop!" ordered Mr. Smilk.
"Why,--why, it's Ernest,--Ernest Wilson," she gasped, incredulously. Then, with a little squeak of relief: "Don't pay any attention to him, Crittenden. He is a friend of mine. Don't you remember me, Ernest? I am--"
"You bet your life I remember you," said the burglar softly, almost purringly.
"Ernest your grandmother," cried Mr. Yollop jerking the disk first one way and then the other in order to catch the flitting duologue. "His name is Smilk,--Cassius Smilk."
"Nothing of the sort," said Mrs. Champney sharply. "It's Ernest Wilson,--isn't it, Ernest?"
"Take off them rings," was the answer she got.
"What is this man doing here, Crittenden?" demanded Mrs. Champney, paying no heed to Smilk's command.
"He's a burglar," replied Mr. Yollop. "I guess you'd better take off your rings, Alice."
"Do you mean to tell me, Ernest Wilson, that you've gone back to your evil ways after all I,--"
"I say, Cassius," cried Mr. Yollop, "is this the woman you wanted to bind and gag and--and--"
"Yes, and rap over the bean," finished Mr. Smilk, as the speaker considerately refrained.
"Rap over the--what?" inquired Mrs. Champney, squinting.
"The bean," said Mr. Smilk, with emphasis.
"I can't imagine what has come over you, Ernest. You were such a nice, quiet, model prisoner,--one of the most promising I ever had anything to do with. The authorities assured me that you--do you mean to tell me that you entered this apartment for the purpose of robbing it? Don't answer! I don't want to hear your voice again. You have given me the greatest disappointment of my life. I trusted you, Ernest,--I had faith in you,--and--and now I find you here in my own brother's apartment, of all places in the world, still pursuing your-"
"Well, you went and moved away on me," broke in Smilk wrathfully.
"That's right, Alice," added Mr. Yollop. "You went and moved on him. He told me that just before you came in."
"You may as well understand right now, Ernest Wilson, that I shall never intercede for you again," said Mrs. Champney sternly. "I shall let you rot in prison. I am through with you. You don't deserve--"
"Are you goin' to take off them rings, or have I got to--"
"Would you rob your benefactress?" demanded the lady.
"Every time I think of all that you robbed me of, I--I--" began Mr. Smilk, shakily.
"Don't blubber, Cassius," said Mr. Yollop consolingly. "You see, my dear Alice, Mr. Smilk thinks,--and maintains,--that you did him a dirty trick when you had him turned out into a wicked, dishonest world. He was living on the fat of the land up there in Sing Sing, seeing motion pictures and plays and so forth, without a worry in the world, with union hours and union pay, no one depending--"
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