sat brooding darkly over life and its troubles. A shooting corn on the
little toe of his left foot, and a touch of liver, due, he was convinced,
to the unlawful cellar-work of the landlord of the Queen's Head, had induced
in him a vein of profound depression. A discarded boot stood by his side,
and his grey-stockinged foot protruded over the edge of the jetty until
a passing waterman gave it a playful rap with his oar. A subsequent inquiry
as to the price of pigs' trotters fell on ears rendered deaf by suffering.
"I might 'ave expected it," said the watchman at last.
"I done that man--if you can call him a man--a kindness once, and this
is my reward for it. Do a man a kindness, and years arterwards 'e comes
along and hits you over your tenderest corn with a oar."
He took up his boot, and, inserting his foot with loving
care, stooped down and fastened the laces.
Do a man a kindness, he continued, assuming a safer posture,
and 'e tries to borrow money off of you; do a woman a kindness and she
thinks you want to marry 'er; do an animal a kindness and it tries to bite
you--same as a horse bit a sailor-man I knew once, when 'e sat on its head
to 'elp it get up. He sat too far for'ard, pore chap.
Kindness never gets any thanks. I remember a man whose
pal broke his leg while they was working together unloading a barge; and
he went off to break the news to 'is pal's wife. A kind-'earted man 'e
was as ever you see, and, knowing 'ow she would take on when she 'eard
the news, he told her fust of all that 'er husband was killed. She took
on like a mad thing, and at last, when she couldn't do anything more and
'ad quieted down a bit, he told 'er that it was on'y a case of a broken
leg, thinking that 'er joy would be so great that she wouldn't think anything
of that. He 'ad to tell her three times afore she understood 'im, and then,
instead of being thankful to 'im for 'is thoughtfulness, she chased him
'arf over Wapping with a chopper, screaming with temper.
I remember Ginger Dick and Peter Russet trying to do old
Sam Small a kindness one time when they was 'aving a rest ashore arter
a v'y'ge. They 'ad took a room together as usual, and for the fust two
or three days they was like brothers. That couldn't last, o' course, and
Sam was so annoyed one evening at Ginger's suspiciousness by biting a 'arf-dollar
Sam owed 'im and finding it was a bad 'un, that 'e went off to spend the
evening all alone by himself.
He felt a bit dull at fust, but arter he had 'ad two or
three 'arf-pints 'e began to take a brighter view of things. He found a
very nice, cosy little public-'ouse he hadn't been in before, and, arter
getting two and three-pence and a pint for the 'arf-dollar with Ginger's
tooth-marks on, he began to think that the world wasn't 'arf as bad a place
as people tried to make out.
There was on'y one other man in the little bar Sam was
in--a tall, dark chap, with black side-whiskers and spectacles, wot kept
peeping round the partition and looking very 'ard at everybody that came
"I'm just keeping my eye on 'em, cap'n," he ses to Sam,
in a low voice.
"Ho!" ses Sam.
"They don't know me in this disguise," ses the dark man,
"but I see as 'ow you spotted me at once. Anybody 'ud have a 'ard time
of it to deceive you; and then they wouldn't gain nothing by it."
"Nobody ever 'as yet," ses Sam, smiling at 'im.
"And nobody ever will," ses the dark man, shaking his
'ead; "if they was all as fly as you, I might as well put the shutters
up. How did you twig I was a detective officer, cap'n?"
Sam, wot was taking a drink, got some beer up 'is nose
"That's my secret," he says, arter the 'tec 'ad patted
'im on the back and brought 'im round.
"You're a marvel, that's wot you are," ses the 'tec, shaking
his 'ead. "Have one with me."
Sam said he didn't mind if 'e did, and arter drinking
each other's healths very perlite 'e ordered a couple o' twopenny smokes,
and by way of showing off paid for 'em with 'arf a quid.
"That's right ain't it?" ses the barmaid, as he stood
staring very 'ard at the change. "I ain't sure about that 'arf-crown, now
I come to look at it; but it's the one you gave me."
Pore Sam, with a 'tec standing alongside of 'im, said
it was quite right, and put it into 'is pocket in a hurry and began to
talk to the 'tec as fast as he could about a murder he 'ad been reading
about in the paper that morning. They went and sat down by a comfortable
little fire that was burning in the bar, and the 'tec told 'im about a
lot o' murder cases he 'ad been on himself.
"I'm down 'ere now on special work," he ses, "looking
"Wot ha' they been doing?" ses Sam.
"When I say looking arter, I mean protecting 'em," ses
the 'tec. "Over and over agin some pore feller, arter working 'ard for
months at sea, comes 'ome with a few pounds in 'is pocket and gets robbed
of the lot. There's a couple o' chaps down 'ere I'm told off to look arter
special, but it's no good unless I can catch 'em red-'anded."
"Red-'anded?" ses Sam.
"With their hands in the chap's pockets, I mean," ses
Sam gave a shiver. "Somebody had their 'ands in my pockets
once," he says "Four pun ten and some coppers they got."
"Wot was they like?" ses the 'tec, starting.
Sam shook his 'ead. "They seemed to me to be all hands,
that's all I know about 'em," he ses. "Arter they 'ad finished they leaned
me up agin the dock wall an' went off."
"It sounds like 'em," ses the 'tec thoughtfully. "It was
Long Pete and fair Alf, for a quid; that's the two I'm arter."
He put 'is finger in 'is weskit-pocket. "That's who I
am," he ses, 'anding Sam a card; "Detective-Sergeant Cubbins. If you ever
get into any trouble at any time you come to me."
Sam said 'e would, and arter they had 'ad another drink
together the 'tec shifted 'is seat alongside of 'im and talked in 'is ear.
"If I can nab them two chaps I shall get promotion," he
ses; "and it's a fi'-pun note to anybody that helps me. I wish I could
persuade you to."
"'Ow's it to be done?" ses Sam, looking at 'im.
"I want a respectable-looking seafaring man," ses the
'tec, speaking very slow; "that's you. He goes up Tower Hill to-morrow
night at nine o'clock, walking very slow and very unsteady on 'is pins,
and giving my two beauties the idea that 'e is three sheets in the wind.
They come up and rob 'im, and I catch 'em red-'anded. I get promotion,
and you get a fiver."
"But 'ow do you know they'll be there?" ses Sam, staring
Mr. Cubbins winked at 'im and tapped 'is nose.
"We 'ave to know a good deal in our line o' business,"
"Still," ses Sam. "I don't see----"
"Narks," says the 'tec; "coppers' narks. You've 'eard
of them, cap'n? Now, look 'ere. Have you got any money?"
"I got a matter o' twelve quid or so," ses Sam, in a off-hand
"The very thing," says the 'tec. "Well, to-morrow night
you put that in your pocket, and be walking up Tower Hill just as the clock
strikes nine. I promise you you'll be robbed afore two minutes past, and
by two and a 'arf past I shall 'ave my 'ands on both of 'em. Have all the
money in one pocket, so as they can get it neat and quick, in case they
get interrupted. Better still, 'ave it in a purse; that makes it easier
to bring it 'ome to 'em"
"Wouldn't it be enough if they stole the purse?" ses Sam.
"I should feel safer that way. too."
Mr. Cubbins shook 'is 'ead, very slow and solemn. "That
wouldn't do at all," he ses. "The more money they steal, the longer they'll
get; you know that, cap'n, without me tellin' you. If you could put fifty
quid in it would be so much the better. And, whatever you do, don't make
a noise. I don't want a lot o' clumsy policemen interfering in my business."
"Still, s'pose you didn't catch 'em," ses Sam, "where
should I be?"
"You needn't; be afraid o' that," ses the 'tec, with a
laugh. "Here, I'll tell you wot I'll do, and that'll show you the trust
I put in you."
He drew a big di'mond ring off of 'is finger and handed
it to Sam.
"Put that on your finger," he ses, "and keep it there
till I give you your money back and the fi'-pun note reward. It's worth
seventy quid if it's worth a farthing, and was given to me by a lady of
title for getting back 'er jewellery for 'er. Put it on, and wotever you
do, don't lose it."
He sat and watched while Sam forced it on 'is finger.
"You don't need to flash it about too much," he ses, looking
at 'im rather anxious. "There's men I know as 'ud cut your finger off to
Sam shoved his 'and in his pocket, but he kept taking
it out every now and then and 'olding his finger up to the light to look
at the di'mond. Mr. Cubbins got up to go at last, saying that he 'ad got
a call to make at the police-station, and they went out together.
"Nine o'clock sharp," he ses, as they shook hands, "on
"I'll be there," ses Sam.
"And, wotever you do, no noise, no calling out," ses the
'tec, "and don't mention a word of this to a living soul."
Sam shook 'ands with 'im agin, and then, hiding his 'and
in his pocket, went off 'ome, and, finding Ginger and Peter Russet wasn't
back, went off to bed.
He 'eard 'em coming upstairs in the dark in about an hour's
time, and, putting the 'and with the ring on it on the counterpane, shut
'is eyes and pretended to be fast asleep. Ginger lit the candle, and they
was both beginning to undress when Peter made a noise and pointed to Sam's
"Wot's up?" ses Ginger, taking the candle and going over
to Sam's bed. "Who've you been robbing, you fat pirate?"
Sam kept 'is eyes shut and 'eard 'em whispering; then
he felt 'em take 'is hand up and look at it.
"Where did you get it, Sam?" ses Peter.
"He's asleep," ses Ginger, "sound asleep. I b'lieve if
I was to put 'is finger in the candle he wouldn't wake up."
"You try it," ses Sam, sitting up in bed very sharp and
snatching his 'and away. "Wot d'ye mean coming 'ome at all hours and waking
"Where did you get the ring?" ses Ginger.
"Friend 'o mine," ses Sam, very short.
"Who was it?" ses Peter.
"It's a secret," ses Sam.
"You wouldn't 'ave a secret from your old pal Ginger,
Sam, would you?" ses Ginger.
"Old wot?" ses Sam. "Wot did you call me this arternoon?"
"I called you a lot o' things I'm sorry for," ses Ginger,
who was bursting with curiosity, "and I beg your pardin, Sam."
"Shake 'ands on it," ses Peter, who was nearly as curious
They shook hands, but Sam said he couldn't tell 'em about
the ring; and several times Ginger was on the point of calling 'im the
names he 'ad called 'im in the arternoon, on'y Peter trod on 'is foot and
stopped him. They wouldn't let 'im go to sleep for talking, and at last,
when 'e was pretty near tired out, he told 'em all about it.
"Going--to 'ave your---pocket picked?" ses Ginger, staring
at 'im, when 'e had finished.
"I shall be watched over," ses Sam.
"He's gorn stark, staring mad," ses Ginger. "Wot a good
job it is he's got me and you to look arter 'im, Peter."
"Wot d'ye mean?" ses Sam.
"Mean?" ses Ginger. "Why, it's a put-up job to rob you,
o' course. I should ha' thought even your fat 'ead could ha' seen that!"
"When I want your advice, I'll ask you for it," ses Sam,
losing 'is temper. "Wot about the di'mond ring--eh?"
"You stick to it," ses Ginger, "and keep out o' Mr. Cubbins's
way. That's my advice to you . 'Sides, p'r'aps it ain't a real one."
Sam told 'im agin he didn't want none of 'is advice, and,
as Ginger wouldn't leave off talking, he pretended to go to sleep. Ginger
woke 'im up three times to tell 'im wot, a fool 'e was, but 'e got so fierce
that he gave it up at last and told 'im to go 'is own way.
Sam wouldn't speak to either of 'em next morning, and
arter breakfast he went off on 'is own. He came back while Peter and Ginger
was out, and they wasted best part o' the day trying to find 'im.
"We'll be on Tower Hill just afore nine and keep 'im out
o' mischief, any way," ses Peter.
Ginger nodded. "And be called names for our pains," he
ses. "I've a good mind to let 'im be robbed."
"It 'ud serve 'im right," ses Peter, "on'y then he'd want
to borrer off of us. Look here! Why not--why not rob 'im ourselves?"
"Wot?" ses Ginger, starting.
"Walk up behind 'im and rob 'im," ses Peter. "He'll think
it's them two chaps he spoke about, and when 'e comes 'ome complaining
to us we'll tell 'im it serves 'im right. Arter we've 'ad a game with 'im
for a day or two we'll give 'im his money back."
"But he'd reckernise us," ses Ginger.
"We must disguise ourselves," ses Peter in a whisper.
"There's a barber's shop in Cable Street, where I've seen beards in the
winder. You hook 'em un over your ears. Get one of 'em each, pull our caps
over our eyes and turn our collars up, and there you are."
Ginger made a lot of objections, not because he didn't
think it was a good idea, but because he didn't like Peter thinking of
it instead of 'im; but he gave way at last, and, arter he 'ad got the beard,
he stood for a long time in front o' the glass thinking wot a difference
it would ha' made to his looks if he had 'ad black 'air instead o' red.
Waiting for the evening made the day seem very long to
'em; but it came at last, and, with the beards in their pockets, they slipped
out and went for a walk round. They 'ad arf a pint each at a public-'ouse
at the top of the Minories, just to steady themselves, and then they came
out and hooked on their beards; and wot with them, and pulling their caps
down and turning their coat-collars up, there wasn't much of their faces
to be seen by anybody.
It was just five minutes to nine when they got to Tower
Hill, and they walked down the middle of the road, keeping a bright look-out
for old Sam. A little way down they saw a couple o' chaps leaning up agin
a closed gate in the dock wall lighting their pipes, and Peter and Ginger
both nudged each other with their elbows at the same time. They 'ad just
got to the bottom of the Hill when Sam turned the corner.
Peter wouldn't believe at fust that the old man wasn't
really the worse fo' liquor, 'e was so life-like. Many a drunken man would
ha' been proud to ha' done it 'arf so well, and it made 'im pleased to
think that Sam was a pal of 'is. Him and Ginger turned and crept up behind
the old man on tip-toe, and then all of a sudden he tilted Sam's cap over
'is eyes and flung his arms round 'im, while Ginger felt in 'is coat-pockets
and took out a leather purse chock-full o' money.
It was all done and over in a moment, and then, to Ginger's
great surprise, Sam suddenly lifted 'is foot and gave 'im a fearful kick
on the shin of 'is leg, and at the same time let drive with all his might
in 'is face. Ginger went down as if he 'ad been shot, and as Peter went
to 'elp him up he got a bang over the head that put 'im alongside o' Ginger,
arter which Sam turned and trotted off down the Hill like a dancing-bear.
"He let drive with all his might in 'is face."
For 'arf a minute Ginger didn't know where 'e was, and
afore he found out the two men they'd seen in the gateway came up, and
one of 'em put his knee in Ginger's back and 'eld him, while the other
caught hold of his 'and and dragged the purse out of it. Arter which they
both made off up the Hill as 'ard as they could go, while Peter Russet
in a faint voice called "Police!" arter them.
He got up presently and helped Ginger up, and they both
stood there pitying themselves, and 'elping each other to think of names
to call Sam.
"Well, the money's gorn, and it's 'is own silly fault,"
ses Ginger. "But wotever 'appens, he mustn't know that we had a 'and in
it, mind that."
"He can starve for all I care," ses Peter, feeling his
'ead. "I won't lend 'im a ha'penny--not a single, blessed ha'penny."
"Who'd ha' thought 'e could ha' hit like that?" says Ginger.
"That's wot gets over me. I never 'ad such a bang in my life--never. I'm
going to 'ave a little drop o' brandy--my 'ead is fair swimming."
Peter 'ad one, too; but though they went into the private
bar, it wasn't private enough for them; and when the landlady asked Ginger
who'd been kissing 'im, he put 'is glass down with a bang and walked straight
Sam 'adn't turned up by the time they got there, and pore
Ginger took advantage of it to put a little warm candle-grease on 'is bad
leg. Then he bathed 'is face very careful and 'elped Peter bathe his 'ear.
They 'ad just finished when they heard Sam coming upstairs, and Ginger
sat down on 'is bed and began to whistle, while Peter took up a bit o'
newspaper and stood by the candle reading it.
"Lor lumme, Ginger?" ses Sam, staring at 'im. "What ha'
you been a-doing to your face?"
"Me?" ses Ginger, careless-like. "Oh, we 'ad a bit of
a scrap down Limehouse way with some Scotchies. Peter got a crack over
the 'ead at the same time."
"Ah, I've 'ad bit of a scrap, too," ses Sam, smiling all
over, "but I didn't get marked."
"Oh!" ses Peter, without looking up from 'is paper.
"Was it a little boy, then?" ses Ginger.
"No, it wasn't a little boy neither, Ginger," ses Sam;
"it was a couple o' men twice the size of you and Peter here, and I licked
'em both. It was the two men I spoke to you about last night."
"Oh!" ses Peter agin, yawning.
"I did a bit o' thinking this mornings" ses Sam, nodding
at 'em, "and I don't mind owning up that if was owing to wot you said.
You was right, Ginger, arter all."
"Fust thing I did arter breakfast," ses Sam, "I took that
di'mond ring to a pawn-shop and found out it wasn't a di'mond ring. Then
I did a bit more thinking, and I went round to a shop I know and bought
a couple o' knuckle-dusters."
"Couple o' wot?" ses Ginger, in a choking voice.
"Knuckle-dusters," ses Sam, "and I turned up to-night
at Tower Hill with one on each 'and just as the clock was striking nine.
I see 'em the moment I turned the corner--two enormous big chaps, a yard
acrost the shoulders, coming down the middle of the road-- You've got a
"No, I ain't," ses Ginger.
"I pretended to be drunk, same as the 'tec told me," ses
Sam, "and then I felt 'em turn round and creep up behind me. One of 'em
come up behind and put 'is knee in my back and caught me by the throat,
and the other gave me a punch in the chest, and while I was gasping for
breath took my purse away. Then I started on 'em."
"Lor'!" ses Ginger, very nasty.
"I fought like a lion," ses Sam. "Twice they 'ad me down,
and twice I got up agin and hammered 'em. They both of 'em 'ad knives,
but my blood was up, and I didn't take no more notice of 'em than if they
was made of paper. I knocked 'em both out o' their hands, and if I hit
'em in the face once I did a dozen times. I surprised myself."
"You surprise me," ses Ginger.
"All of a sudden," ses Sam, "they see they 'ad got to
do with a man wot didn't know wot fear was, and they turned round and ran
off as hard as they could run. You ought to ha' been there, Ginger. You'd
'ave enjoyed it."
Ginger Dick didn't answer 'im. Having to sit still and
listen to all them lies without being able to say anything nearly choked
'im. He sat there gasping for breath.
"0' course, you got your purse back in the fight, Sam?"
"No, mate," ses Sam. "I ain't going to tell you no lies--I
"And 'ow are you going to live, then, till you get a ship,
Sam?" ses Ginger, in a nasty voice. "You won't get nothing out o' me, so
you needn't think it."
"Nor me," ses Peter. "Not a brass farthing."
"There's no call to be nasty about it, mates," ses Sam.
"I 'ad the best fight I ever 'ad in my life, and I must put up with the
loss. A man can't 'ave it all his own way."
"'Ow much was it?" ses Peter.
"Ten brace-buttons, three French ha'-pennies, and a bit
o' tin," ses Sam. "Wot on earth's the matter, Ginger?"