I believe ‘e told his ‘ands wot I said; anyway, two bits o’ coke missed me by ‘arf an inch next evening, and for some weeks not one of ‘em spoke a word to me. When they see me coming they just used to stand up straight and twist their nose.
It didn’t ‘urt me, o’ course. I took no notice of ‘em. Even when one of ‘em fell over the broom I was sweeping with I took no notice of ‘im. I just went on with my work as if ‘e wasn’t there.
I suppose they ‘ad been in the sulks about a month, and I was sitting ‘ere one evening getting my breath arter a couple o’ hours’ ‘ard work, when one of ‘em, George Tebb by name, came off the ship and nodded to me as he passed.
“Evening, Bill,” he ses.
“Evening,” I ses, rather stiff.
“I wanted a word with you, Bill,” he ses, in a low voice. “In fact, I might go so far as to say I want to ask you to do me a favour.”
I looked at him so ‘ard that he coughed and looked away.
“We might talk about it over a ‘arf-pint,” he ses.
“No, thank you,” I ses. “I ‘ad a ‘arf-pint the day before yesterday, and I’m not thirsty.”
He stood there fidgeting about for a bit, and then he puts his ‘and on my shoulder.
“Well, come to the end of the jetty,” he ses. “I’ve got something private to say.”
I got up slow-like and followed ‘im. I wasn’t a bit curious. Not a bit. But if a man asks for my ‘elp I always give it.
“It’s like this,” he ses, looking round careful, “only I don’t want the other chaps to hear because I don’t want to be laughed at. Last week an old uncle o’ mine died and left me thirty pounds. It’s just a week ago, and I’ve already got through five of ‘em, and besides that the number of chaps that want to borrow ten bob for a couple o’ days would surprise you.”
“I ain’t so easy surprised,” I ses, shaking my ‘ead.
“It ain’t safe with me,” he ses; “and the favour I want you to do is to take care of it for me. I know it’ll go if I keep it. I’ve got it locked up in this box. And if you keep the box I’ll keep the key, and when I want a bit I’ll come and see you about it.”
He pulled a little box out of ‘is pocket and rattled it in my ear.
“There’s five-and-twenty golden goblins in there,” he ses. “If you take charge of ‘em they’ll be all right. If you don’t, I’m pretty certain I sha’n't ‘ave one of ‘em in a week or two’s time.”
At fust I said I wouldn’t ‘ave anything to do with it, but he begged so ‘ard that I began to alter my mind.
“You’re as honest as daylight, Bill,” he ses, very earnest. “I don’t know another man in the world I could trust with twenty-five quid– especially myself. Now, put it in your pocket and look arter it for me. One of the quids in it is for you, for your trouble.”
He slipped the box in my coat-pocket, and then he said ‘is mind was so relieved that ‘e felt like ‘arf a pint. I was for going to the Bear’s Head, the place I generally go to, because it is next door to the wharf, so to speak, but George wanted me to try the beer at another place he knew of.
“The wharf’s all right,” he ses. “There’s one or two ‘ands on the ship, and they won’t let anybody run away with it.”
From wot he said I thought the pub was quite close, but instead o’ that I should think we walked pretty nearly a mile afore we got there. Nice snug place it was, and the beer was all right, although, as I told George Tebb, it didn’t seem to me any better than the stuff at the Bear’s Head.