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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Gem Collector - Chapter XX
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The Gem Collector - Chapter XX Post by :lilyg Category :Long Stories Author :P G Wodehouse Date :July 2011 Read :3317

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The Gem Collector - Chapter XX


The American liner, _St. Louis_, lay in the Empress Dock, at Southampton, taking aboard her passengers. All sorts and conditions of men flowed in an unceasing stream up the gangway.

Leaning over the second-class railing, Jimmy Pitt and Spike Mullins watched them thoughtfully.

Jimmy looked up at the Blue Peter that fluttered from the foremast, and then at Spike. The Bowery boy's face was stolid and expressionless. He was smoking a short wooden pipe, with an air of detachment.

"Well, Spike," said Jimmy. "Your schooner's on the tide now, isn't it? Your vessel's at the quay. You've got some queer-looking fellow travellers. Don't miss the two Cinghalese sports, and the man in the turban and the baggy breeches. I wonder if they're air-tight. Useful if he fell overboard."

"Sure," said Spike, directing a contemplative eye toward the garment in question. "He knows his business."

"I wonder what those men on the deck are writing. They've been scribbling away ever since we came here. Probably society journalists. We shall see in next week's _Sphere_: 'Among the second-class passengers we noticed Mr. "Spike" Mullins, looking as cheery as ever.' It's a pity you're so set on going, Spike. Why not change your mind, and stop?"

For a moment, Spike looked wistful. Then his countenance resumed its woodenness. "Dere ain't no use for me dis side, Mr. Chames," he said. "New York's de spot. Youse don't want none of me, now you're married. How's Miss Molly, Mr. Chames?"

"Splendid, Spike; thanks. We're going over to France by to-night's boat."

"It's been a queer business," said Jimmy, after a pause. "A deuced rum business. Well, I've come very well out of it, at any rate. It seems to me that you're the only one of us who doesn't end happily, Spike. I'm married. McEachern's butted into society so deep that it would take an excavating party with dynamite to get him out of it. Molly. Well, Molly's made a bad bargain, but I hope she won't regret it. We're all going some, except you. You're going out on the old trail again--which begins in Third Avenue and ends in Sing Sing. Why tear yourself away, Spike?"

Spike concentrated his gaze on a weedy young emigrant in a blue jersey, who was having his eye examined by the overworked doctor, and seemed to be resenting it.

"Dere's nuttin' doin' dis side, Mr. Chames," he said, at length. "I want to get busy."

"Ulysses Mullins!" said Jimmy, looking at him curiously. "I know the feeling. There's only one cure, and I don't suppose you'll ever take it. You don't think a lot of women, do you? You're the rugged bachelor."

"Goils----" began Spike comprehensively, and abandoned the topic without dilating on it further.

Jimmy lit his pipe, and threw the match overboard. The sun came out from behind a cloud, and the water sparkled.

"Dose were great jools, Mr. Chames," said Spike thoughtfully.

"I believe you're still brooding over them, Spike."

"We could have got away wit' dem, if you'd have stood for it. Dead easy."

"You _are brooding over them. Spike, I'll tell you something which will console you a little before you start out on your wanderings. That necklace was paste."

"What's dat?"

"Nothing but paste. They weren't worth thirty dollars."

A light of understanding came into Spike's eyes. His face beamed with the smile of one to whom dark matters are made clear.

"So _dat's why you wouldn't stand for gettin' away wit' dem!" he exclaimed.

* * * * *

The last voyager had embarked. The deck was full to congestion.

"They'll be sending us ashore in a minute," said Jimmy. "I'd better be moving. Let me know how you're making out, Spike, from time to time. You know the address. And, I say. It's just possible you may find you want a dollar or two, every now and then. When you're going to buy another automobile, for instance. Well, you know where to write for it, don't you?"

"T'anks, Mr. Chames. But dat'll be all right. I'm going to sit in at another game dis time. Politics, Mr. Chames. A fr'en' of a mug what I knows has got a pull. Me brother Dan is an _alderman wit' a grip on de 'Levent' Ward," he went on softly. "He'll find me a job!"

"You'll be a boss before you know where you are."

"Sure!" said Spike, grinning modestly.

"You ought to be a thundering success in American politics," said Jimmy. "You've got all the necessary qualities."

A steward passed.

"Any more for the shore?"

"Which shore?" asked Jimmy. "Well, Spike----"

"Good-by, Mr. Chames."

"Good-by," said Jimmy. "And good luck!"

* * * * *

Two tugs attached themselves excitedly to the liner's side. The great ship began to move slowly from the shore. Jimmy stood at the water side, and watched her. The rails were lined with gesticulating figures. In the front row, Spike waved his hat with silent vigor.

The sun had gone behind the clouds. As the ship slid out on its way, a stray beam pierced the grayness.

It shone on a red head.

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