By Advice of Counsel

The traveller champed meditatively at his steak. He paid no attention to the altercation which was in progress between the waiter and the man at the other end of the dingy room. The sounds of strife ceased. The waiter came over to the traveller’s table and stood behind his chair. He was ruffled.

“If he meant lamb,” he said, querulously, “why didn’t he say ‘lamb,’ so’s a feller could hear him? I thought he said ‘ham,’ so I brought ham. Now Lord Percy gets all peevish.”

He laughed bitterly. The traveller made no reply.

“If people spoke distinct,” said the waiter, “there wouldn’t be half the trouble there is in the world. Not half the trouble there wouldn’t be. I shouldn’t be here, for one thing. In this restawrong, I mean.” A sigh escaped him.

“I shouldn’t,” he said, “and that’s the truth. I should be getting up when I pleased, eating and drinking all I wanted, and carrying on same as in the good old days. You wouldn’t think, to look at me, would you now, that I was once like the lily of the field?”

The waiter was a tall, stringy man, who gave the impression of having no spine. In that he drooped, he might have been said to resemble a flower, but in no other respect. He had sandy hair, weak eyes set close together, and a day’s growth of red stubble on his chin. One could not see him in the lily class.

“What I mean to say is, I didn’t toil, neither did I spin. Ah, them was happy days! Lying on me back, plenty of tobacco, something cool in a jug—”

He sighed once more.

“Did you ever know a man of the name of Moore? Jerry Moore?”

The traveller applied himself to his steak in silence.

“Nice feller. Simple sort of feller. Big. Quiet. Bit deaf in one ear. Straw-coloured hair. Blue eyes. ’Andsome, rather. Had a ’ouse just outside of Reigate. Has it still. Money of his own. Left him by his pa. Simple sort of feller. Not much to say for himself. I used to know him well in them days. Used to live with him. Nice feller he was. Big. Bit hard of hearing. Got a sleepy kind of grin, like this—something.”

The traveller sipped his beer in thoughtful silence.

“I reckon you never met him,” said the waiter. “Maybe you never knew Gentleman Bailey, either? We always called him that. He was one of these broken-down Eton or ’Arrer fellers, folks said. We struck up a partnership kind of casual, both being on the tramp together, and after a while we ’appened to be round about Reigate. And the first house we come to was this Jerry Moore’s. He come up just as we was sliding to the back door, and grins that sleepy grin. Like this—something. ‘Ullo!’ he says. Gentleman kind of gives a whoop, and hollers, ‘If it ain’t my old pal, Jerry Moore! Jack,’ he says to me, ‘this is my old pal, Mr. Jerry Moore, wot I met in ’appier days down at Ramsgate one summer.’

“They shakes hands, and Jerry Moore says, ‘Is this a friend of yours, Bailey?’ looking at me. Gentleman introduces me. ‘We are partners,’ he says, ‘partners in misfortune. This is my friend, Mr. Roach.’

“Come along in,’ says Jerry.

“So we went in, and he makes us at home. He’s a bachelor, and lives all by himself in this desirable ’ouse.

“Well, I seen pretty quick that Jerry thinks the world of Gentleman. All that evening he’s acting as if he’s as pleased as Punch to have him there. Couldn’t do enough for him. It was a bit of all right, I said to meself. It was, too.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.