“‘She won’t be ready for sea for pretty near three weeks,’ ses Sam. ‘You know that.’
“‘P’r’aps Sam would lend us a trifle to go on with, Ginger,’ ses Peter Russet. ‘Just enough to keep body and soul together, so as we can hold out and ‘ave the pleasure of sailing with ‘im agin.’
“‘P’r’aps he wouldn’t,’ ses Sam, afore Ginger could open his mouth. ‘I’ve just got about enough to last myself; I ‘aven’t got any to lend. Sailormen wot turns on their best friends and makes them sleep on the cold ‘ard floor while their new pal is in his bed don’t get money lent to ’em. My neck is so stiff it creaks every time I move it, and I’ve got the rheumatics in my legs something cruel.’
“He began to ‘um a song, and putting on ‘is cap went out to get some brekfuss. He went to a little eating-‘ouse near by, where they was in the ‘abit of going, and ‘ad just started on a plate of eggs and bacon when Ginger Dick and Peter came into the place with a pocket-‘ankercher of ‘is wot they ‘ad found in the fender.
“‘We thought you might want it, Sam,’ ses Peter.
“‘So we brought it along,’ ses Ginger. ‘I ‘ope you’re enjoying of your brekfuss, Sam.’
“Sam took the ‘ankercher and thanked ’em very perlite, and arter standing there for a minute or two as if they wanted to say something they couldn’t remember, they sheered off. When Sam left the place ‘arf-an- hour afterwards they was still hanging about, and as Sam passed Ginger asked ‘im if he was going for a walk.
“‘Walk?’ ses Sam. ‘Cert’nly not. I’m going to bed; I didn’t ‘ave a good night’s rest like you and your lodger.’
“He went back ‘ome, and arter taking off ‘is coat and boots got into bed and slept like a top till one o’clock, when he woke up to find Ginger shaking ‘im by the shoulders.
“‘Wot’s the matter?’ he ses. ‘Wot are you up to?’
“‘It’s dinner-time,’ ses Ginger. ‘I thought p’r’aps you’d like to know, in case you missed it.’
“‘You leave me alone,’ ses Sam, cuddling into the clothes agin. ‘I don’t want no dinner. You go and look arter your own dinners.’
“He stayed in bed for another ‘arf-hour, listening to Peter and Ginger telling each other in loud whispers ‘ow hungry they was, and then he got up and put ‘is things on and went to the door.
“‘I’m going to get a bit o’ dinner,’ he ses. ‘And mind, I’ve got my pocket ‘ankercher.’
“He went out and ‘ad a steak and onions and a pint o’ beer, but, although he kept looking up sudden from ‘is plate, he didn’t see Peter or Ginger. It spoilt ‘is dinner a bit, but arter he got outside ‘e saw them standing at the corner, and, pretending not to see them, he went off for a walk down the Mile End Road.
“He walked as far as Bow with them follering’im, and then he jumped on a bus and rode back as far as Whitechapel. There was no sign of ’em when he got off, and, feeling a bit lonesome, he stood about looking in shop- windows until ‘e see them coming along as hard as they could come.
“‘Why, halloa!’ he ses. ‘Where did you spring from?’
“‘We—we—we’ve been—for a bit of a walk,’ ses Ginger Dick, puffing and blowing like a grampus.
“‘To-keep down the ‘unger,’ ses Peter Russet.
“Old Sam looked at ’em very stern for a moment, then he beckoned ’em to foller ‘im, and, stopping at a little public-‘ouse, he went in and ordered a pint o’ bitter.
“‘And give them two pore fellers a crust o’ bread and cheese and ‘arf-a- pint of four ale each,’ he ses to the barmaid.
“Ginger and Peter looked at each other, but they was so hungry they didn’t say a word; they just stood waiting.
“‘Put that inside you my pore fellers,’ ses Sam, with a oily smile. ‘I can’t bear to see people suffering for want o’ food,’ he ses to the barmaid, as he chucked down a sovereign on the counter.
“The barmaid, a very nice gal with black ‘air and her fingers covered all over with rings, said that it did ‘im credit, and they stood there talking about tramps and beggars and such-like till Peter and Ginger nearly choked. He stood there watching ’em and smoking a threepenny cigar, and when they ‘ad finished he told the barmaid to give ’em a sausage-roll each, and went off.
“Peter and Ginger snatched up their sausage-rolls and follered ‘im, and at last Ginger swallowed his pride and walked up to ‘im and asked ‘im to lend them some money.
“‘You’ll get it back agin,’ he ses. ‘You know that well enough.’
“‘Cert’nly not,’ ses Sam; ‘and I’m surprised at you asking. Why, a child could rob you. It’s ‘ard enough as it is for a pore man like me to ‘ave to keep a couple o’ hulking sailormen, but I’m not going to give you money to chuck away on lodgers. No more sleeping on the floor for me! Now I don’t want none o’ your langwidge, and I don’t want you follering me like a couple o’ cats arter a meat-barrer. I shall be ‘aving a cup o’ tea at Brown’s coffee-shop by and by, and if you’re there at five sharp I’ll see wot I can do for you. Wot did you call me?’
“Ginger told ‘im three times, and then Peter Russet dragged ‘im away. They turned up outside Brown’s at a quarter to five, and at ten past six Sam Small strolled up smoking a cigar, and, arter telling them that he ‘ad forgot all about ’em, took ’em inside and paid for their teas. He told Mr. Brown ‘e was paying for ’em, and ‘e told the gal wot served ’em ‘e was paying for ’em, and it was all pore Ginger could do to stop ‘imself from throwing his plate in ‘is face.
“Sam went off by ‘imself, and arter walking about all the evening without a ha’penny in their pockets, Ginger Dick and Peter went off ‘ome to bed and went to sleep till twelve o’clock, when Sam came in and woke ’em up to tell ’em about a music-‘all he ‘ad been to, and ‘ow many pints he had ‘ad. He sat up in bed till past one o’clock talking about ‘imself, and twice Peter Russet woke Ginger up to listen and got punched for ‘is trouble.