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Chapter 7


"A common thief!"

Schomberg bit his tongue just too late, and woke up completely as he saw
Ricardo retract his lips in a cat-like grin; but the companion of "plain
Mr. Jones" didn't alter his comfortable, gossiping attitude.

"Garn! What if he did want to see his money back, like any tame
shopkeeper, hash-seller, gin-slinger, or ink-spewer does? Fancy a mud
turtle like you trying to pass an opinion on a gentleman! A gentleman
isn't to be sized up so easily. Even I ain't up to it sometimes. For
instance, that night, all he did was to waggle his finger at me. The
skipper stops his silly chatter, surprised.

"'Eh? What's the matter?' asks he.

"The matter! It was his reprieve--that's what was the matter.

"'O, nothing, nothing,' says my gentleman. 'You are perfectly right. A
log--nothing but a log.'

"Ha, ha! Reprieve, I call it, because if the skipper had gone on with
his silly argument much longer he would have had to be knocked out
of the way. I could hardly hold myself in on account of the precious
minutes. However, his guardian angel put it into his head to shut up and
go back to his bed. I was ramping mad about the lost time."

"'Why didn't you let me give him one on his silly coconut sir?' I asks.

"'No ferocity, no ferocity,' he says, raising his finger at me as calm
as you please.

"You can't tell how a gentleman takes that sort of thing. They don't
lost their temper. It's bad form. You'll never see him lose his
temper--not for anybody to see anyhow. Ferocity ain't good form,
either--that much I've learned by this time, and more, too. I've had
that schooling that you couldn't tell by my face if I meant to rip you
up the next minute--as of course I could do in less than a jiffy. I have
a knife up the leg of my trousers."

"You haven't!" exclaimed Schomberg incredulously.

Mr Ricardo was as quick as lightning in changing his lounging, idle
attitude for a stooping position, and exhibiting the weapon with one
jerk at the left leg of his trousers. Schomberg had just a view of it,
strapped to a very hairy limb, when Mr. Ricardo, jumping up, stamped his
foot to get the trouser-leg down, and resumed his careless pose with one
elbow on the table.

"It's a more handy way to carry a tool than you would think," he went
on, gazing abstractedly into Schomberg's wide-open eyes. "Suppose some
little difference comes up during a game. Well, you stoop to pick up a
dropped card, and when you come up--there you are ready to strike, or
with the thing up you sleeve ready to throw. Or you just dodge under the
table when there's some shooting coming. You wouldn't believe the damage
a fellow with a knife under the table can do to ill-conditioned skunks
that want to raise trouble, before they begin to understand what the
screaming's about, and make a bolt--those that can, that is."

The roses of Schomberg's cheek at the root of his chestnut beard faded
perceptibly. Ricardo chuckled faintly.

"But no ferocity--no ferocity! A gentleman knows. What's the good of
getting yourself into a state? And no shirking necessity, either. No
gentleman ever shirks. What I learn I don't forget. Why! We gambled
on the plains, with a damn lot of cattlemen in ranches; played fair,
mind--and then had to fight for our winnings afterwards as often as not.
We've gambled on the hills and in the valleys and on the sea-shore, and
out of sight of land--mostly fair. Generally it's good enough. We began
in Nicaragua first, after we left that schooner and her fool errand.
There were one hundred and twenty-seven sovereigns and some Mexican
dollars in that skipper's cash-box. Hardly enough to knock a man on the
head for from behind, I must confess; but that the skipper had a narrow
escape the governor himself could not deny afterwards.

"'Do you want me to understand, sir, that you mind there being one life
more or less on this earth?' I asked him, a few hours after we got away.

"'Certainly not,' says he.

"'Well, then, why did you stop me?'

"'There's a proper way of doing things. You'll have to learn to be
correct. There's also unnecessary exertion. That must be avoided,
too--if only for the look of the thing.' A gentleman's way of putting
things to you--and no mistake!

"At sunrise we got into a creek, to lie hidden in case the treasure hunt
party had a mind to take a spell hunting for us. And dash me if they
didn't! We saw the schooner away out, running to leeward, with ten pairs
of binoculars sweeping the sea, no doubt on all sides. I advised the
governor to give her time to beat back again before we made a start. So
we stayed up that creek something like ten days, as snug as can be. On
the seventh day we had to kill a man, though--the brother of this Pedro
here. They were alligator-hunters, right enough. We got our lodgings in
their hut. Neither the boss nor I could habla Espanol--speak Spanish,
you know--much then. Dry bank, nice shade, jolly hammocks, fresh fish,
good game, everything lovely. The governor chucked them a few dollars to
begin with; but it was like boarding with a pair of savage apes, anyhow.
By and by we noticed them talking a lot together. They had twigged
the cash-box, and the leather portmanteaus, and my bag--a jolly lot of
plunder to look at. They must have been saying to each other:

"'No one's ever likely to come looking for these two fellows, who seem
to have fallen from the moon. Let's cut their throats.'

"Why, of course! Clear as daylight. I didn't need to spy one of them
sharpening a devilish long knife behind some bushes, while glancing
right and left with his wild eyes, to know what was in the wind. Pedro
was standing by, trying the edge of another long knife. They thought we
were away on our lookout at the mouth of the river, as was usual with us
during the day. Not that we expected to see much of the schooner, but
it was just as well to make certain, if possible; and then it was cooler
out of the woods, in the breeze. Well, the governor was there right
enough, lying comfortable on a rug, where he could watch the offing, but
I had gone back to the hut to get a chew of tobacco out of my bag. I had
not broken myself of the habit then, and I couldn't be happy unless I
had a lump as big as a baby's fist in my cheek."

At the cannibalistic comparison, Schomberg muttered a faint, sickly
"don't." Ricardo hitched himself up in his seat and glanced down his
outstretched legs complacently.

"I am tolerably light on my feet, as a general thing," he went on. "Dash
me if I don't think I could drop a pinch of salt on a sparrow's tail,
if I tried. Anyhow, they didn't hear me. I watched them two brown, hairy
brutes not ten yards off. All they had on was white linen drawers rolled
up on their thighs. Not a word they said to each other. Antonio was
down on his thick hams, busy rubbing a knife on a flat stone; Pedro was
leaning against a small tree and passing his thumb along the edge of his
blade. I got away quieter than a mouse, you bet."

"I didn't say anything to the boss then. He was leaning on his elbow
on his rug, and didn't seem to want to be spoken to. He's like
that--sometimes that familiar you might think he would eat out of your
hand, and at others he would snub you sharper than a devil--but always
quiet. Perfect gentleman, I tell you. I didn't bother him, then; but
I wasn't likely to forget them two fellows, so businesslike with their
knives. At that time we had only one revolver between us two--the
governor's six-shooter, but loaded only in five chambers; and we had no
more cartridges. He had left the box behind in a drawer in his cabin.
Awkward! I had nothing but an old clasp-knife--no good at all for
anything serious.

"In the evening we four sat round a bit of fire outside the
sleeping-shed, eating broiled fish off plantain leaves, with roast yams
for bread--the usual thing. The governor and I were on one side, and
these two beauties cross-legged on the other, grunting a word or two
to each other, now and then, hardly human speech at all, and their eyes
down, fast on the ground. For the last three days we couldn't get them
to look us in the face. Presently I began to talk to the boss quietly,
just as I am talking to you now, careless like, and I told him all I had
observed. He goes on picking up pieces of fish and putting them into his
mouth as calm as anything. It's a pleasure to have anything to do with a
gentleman. Never looked across at them once.

"'And now,' says I, yawning on purpose, 'we've got to stand watch at
night, turn about, and keep our eyes skinned all day, too, and mind we
don't get jumped upon suddenly.'

"'It's perfectly intolerable,' says the governor. 'And you with no
weapon of any sort!'

"'I mean to stick pretty close to you, sir, from this on, if you don't
mind,' says I.

"He just nods the least bit, wipes his fingers on the plantain leaf,
puts his hand behind his back, as if to help himself to rise from the
ground, snatches his revolver from under his jacket and plugs a bullet
plumb centre into Mr. Antonio's chest. See what it is to have to do with
a gentleman. No confounded fuss, and things done out of hand. But he
might have tipped me a wink or something. I nearly jumped out of my
skin. Scared ain't in it! I didn't even know who had fired. Everything
had been so still just before that the bang of the shot seemed
the loudest noise I had ever heard. The honourable Antonio pitches
forward--they always do, towards the shot; you must have noticed that
yourself--yes, he pitches forward on to the embers, and all that lot of
hair on his face and head flashes up like a pinch of gunpowder. Greasy,
I expect; always scraping the fat off them alligators' hides--"

"Look here," exclaimed Schomberg violently, as if trying to burst some
invisible bonds, "do you mean to say that all this happened?"

"No," said Ricardo coolly. "I am making it all up as I go along, just to
help you through the hottest part of the afternoon. So down he pitches
his nose on the red embers, and up jumps our handsome Pedro and I at the
same time, like two Jacks-in-the-box. He starts to bolt away, with his
head over his shoulder, and I, hardly knowing what I was doing, spring
on his back. I had the sense to get my hands round his neck at once, and
it's about all I could do to lock my fingers tight under his jaw. You
saw the beauty's neck, didn't you? Hard as iron, too. Down we both went.
Seeing this the governor puts his revolver in his pocket.

"'Tie his legs together, sir,' I yell. 'I'm trying to strangle him.'

"There was a lot of their fibre-lines lying about. I gave him a last
squeeze and then got up.

"'I might have shot you,' says the governor, quite concerned.

"'But you are glad to have saved a cartridge, sir,' I tell him.

"My jump did save it. It wouldn't have done to let him get away in
the dark like that, and have the beauty dodging around in the bushes,
perhaps, with the rusty flint-lock gun they had. The governor owned up
that the jump was the correct thing.

"'But he isn't dead,' says he, bending over him.

"Might as well hope to strangle an ox. We made haste to tie his elbows
back, and then, before he came to himself, we dragged him to a small
tree, sat him up, and bound him to it, not by the waist but by the
neck--some twenty turns of small line round his throat and the trunk,
finished off with a reef-knot under his ear. Next thing we did was to
attend to the honourable Antonio, who was making a great smell frizzling
his face on the red coals. We pushed and rolled him into the creek, and
left the rest to the alligators.

"I was tired. That little scrap took it out of me something awful. The
governor hadn't turned a hair. That's where a gentleman has the pull
of you. He don't get excited. No gentleman does--or hardly ever. I fell
asleep all of a sudden and left him smoking by the fire I had made
up, his railway rug round his legs, as calm as if he were sitting in a
first-class carriage. We hardly spoke ten words to each other after
it was over, and from that day to this we have never talked of the
business. I wouldn't have known he remembered it if he hadn't alluded to
it when talking with you the other day--you know, with regard to Pedro."

"It surprised you, didn't it? That's why I am giving you this yarn of
how he came to be with us, like a sort of dog--dashed sight more useful,
though. You know how he can trot around with trays? Well, he could bring
down an ox with his fist, at a word from the boss, just as cleverly. And
fond of the governor! Oh, my word! More than any dog is of any man."

Schomberg squared his chest.

"Oh, and that's one of the things I wanted to mention to Mr. Jones," he
said. "It's unpleasant to have that fellow round the house so early. He
sits on the stairs at the back for hours before he is needed here, and
frightens people so that the service suffers. The Chinamen--"

Ricardo nodded and raised his hand.

"When I first saw him he was fit to frighten a grizzly bear, let alone
a Chinaman. He's become civilized now to what he once was. Well, that
morning, first thing on opening my eyes, I saw him sitting there, tied
up by the neck to the tree. He was blinking. We spend the day watching
the sea, and we actually made out the schooner working to windward,
which showed that she had given us up. Good! When the sun rose again, I
took a squint at our Pedro. He wasn't blinking. He was rolling his eyes,
all white one minute and black the next, and his tongue was hanging out
a yard. Being tied up short by the neck like this would daunt the arch
devil himself--in time--in time, mind! I don't know but that even a
real gentleman would find it difficult to keep a stiff lip to the end.
Presently we went to work getting our boat ready. I was busying myself
setting up the mast, when the governor passes the remark:

"'I think he wants to say something.'

"I had heard a sort of croaking going on for some time, only I wouldn't
take any notice; but then I got out of the boat and went up to him, with
some water. His eyes were red--red and black and half out of his
head. He drank all the water I gave him, but he hadn't much to say for
himself. I walked back to the governor.

"'He asks for a bullet in his head before we go,' I said. I wasn't at
all pleased.

"'Oh, that's out of the question altogether,' says the governor.

"He was right there. Only four shots left, and ninety miles of wild
coast to put behind us before coming to the first place where you could
expect to buy revolver cartridges.

"'Anyhow,' I tells him, 'he wants to be killed some way or other, as a
favour.'

"And then I go on setting up the boat's mast. I didn't care much for the
notion of butchering a man bound hand and foot and fastened by the neck
besides. I had a knife then--the honourable Antonio's knife; and that
knife is this knife.

"Ricardo gave his leg a resounding slap.

"First spoil in my new life," he went on with harsh joviality. "The
dodge of carrying it down there I learned later. I carried it stuck in
my belt that day. No, I hadn't much stomach for the job; but when you
work with a gentleman of the real right sort you may depend on your
feelings being seen through your skin. Says the governor suddenly:

"'It may even be looked upon as his right'--you hear a gentleman
speaking there?--'but what do you think of taking him with us in the
boat?'

"And the governor starts arguing that the beggar would be useful in
working our way along the coast. We could get rid of him before coming
to the first place that was a little civilized. I didn't want much
talking over. Out I scrambled from the boat.

"'Ay, but will he be manageable, sir?'

"'Oh, yes. He's daunted. Go on, cut him loose--I take the
responsibility.'

"'Right you are, sir.'

"He sees me come along smartly with his brother's knife in my hand--I
wasn't thinking how it looked from his side of the fence, you know--and
jiminy, it nearly killed him! He stared like a crazed bullock and began
to sweat and twitch all over, something amazing. I was so surprised,
that I stopped to look at him. The drops were pouring over his eyebrows,
down his beard, off his nose--and he gurgled. Then it struck me that he
couldn't see what was in my mind. By favour or by right he didn't like
to die when it came to it; not in that way, anyhow. When I stepped round
to get at the lashing, he let out a sort of soft bellow. Thought I was
going to stick him from behind, I guess. I cut all the turns with one
slash, and he went over on his side, flop, and started kicking with his
tied legs. Laugh! I don't know what there was so funny about it, but I
fairly shouted. What between my laughing and his wriggling, I had a job
in cutting him free. As soon as he could feel his limbs he makes for the
bank, where the governor was standing, crawls up to him on his hands and
knees, and embraces his legs. Gratitude, eh? You could see that being
allowed to live suited that chap down to the ground. The governor gets
his legs away from him gently and just mutters to me:

"'Let's be off. Get him into the boat.'

"It was not difficult," continued Ricardo, after eyeing Schomberg
fixedly for a moment. "He was ready enough to get into the boat,
and--here he is. He would let himself be chopped into small pieces--with
a smile, mind; with a smile!--for the governor. I don't know about him
doing that much for me; but pretty near, pretty near. I did the tying up
and the untying, but he could see who was the boss. And then he knows a
gentleman. A dog knows a gentleman--any dog. It's only some foreigners
that don't know; and nothing can teach them, either."

"And you mean to say," asked Schomberg, disregarding what might have
been annoying for himself in the emphasis of the final remark, "you mean
to say that you left steady employment at good wages for a life like
this?"

"There!" began Ricardo quietly. "That's just what a man like you would
say. You are that tame! I follow a gentleman. That ain't the same thing
as to serve an employer. They give you wages as they'd fling a bone to
a dog, and they expect you to be grateful. It's worse than slavery. You
don't expect a slave that's bought for money to be grateful. And if you
sell your work--what is it but selling your own self? You've got so many
days to live and you sell them one after another. Hey? Who can pay me
enough for my life? Ay! But they throw at you your week's money and
expect you to say 'thank you' before you pick it up."

He mumbled some curses, directed at employers generally, as it seemed,
then blazed out:

"Work be damned! I ain't a dog walking on its hind legs for a bone; I am
a man who's following a gentleman. There's a difference which you will
never understand, Mr. Tame Schomberg."

He yawned slightly. Schomberg, preserving a military stiffness
reinforced by a slight frown, had allowed his thoughts to stray away.
They were busy detailing the image of a young girl--absent--gone--stolen
from him. He became enraged. There was that rascal looking at him
insolently. If the girl had not been shamefully decoyed away from him,
he would not have allowed anyone to look at him insolently. He would
have made nothing of hitting that rogue between the eyes. Afterwards he
would have kicked the other without hesitation. He saw himself doing it;
and in sympathy with this glorious vision Schomberg's right foot, and
arm moved convulsively.

At this moment he came out of his sudden reverie to note with alarm the
wide-awake curiosity of Mr. Ricardo's stare.

"And so you go like this about the world, gambling," he remarked
inanely, to cover his confusion. But Ricardo's stare did not change its
character, and he continued vaguely:

"Here and there and everywhere." He pulled himself together, squared his
shoulders. "Isn't it very precarious?" he said firmly.

The word precarious--seemed to be effective, because Ricardo's eyes lost
their dangerously interested expression.

"No, not so bad," Ricardo said, with indifference. "It's my opinion that
men will gamble as long as they have anything to put on a card. Gamble?
That's nature. What's life itself? You never know what may turn up. The
worst of it is that you never can tell exactly what sort of cards you
are holding yourself. What's trumps?--that is the question. See? Any man
will gamble if only he's given a chance, for anything or everything. You
too--"

"I haven't touched a card now for twenty years," said Schomberg in an
austere tone.

"Well, if you got your living that way you would be no worse than you
are now, selling drinks to people--beastly beer and spirits, rotten
stuff fit to make an old he-goat yell if you poured it down its throat.
Pooh! I can't stand the confounded liquor. Never could. A whiff of neat
brandy in a glass makes me feel sick. Always did. If everybody was like
me, liquor would be going a-begging. You think it's funny in a man,
don't you?"

Schomberg made a vague gesture of toleration. Ricardo hitched up his
chair and settled his elbow afresh on the table.

"French siros I must say I do like. Saigon's the place for them. I see
you have siros in the bar. Hang me if I ain't getting dry, conversing
like this with you. Come, Mr. Schomberg, be hospitable, as the governor
says."

Schomberg rose and walked with dignity to the counter. His footsteps
echoed loudly on the floor of polished boards. He took down a bottle,
labelled "Sirop de Groseille." The little sounds he made, the clink of
glass, the gurgling of the liquid, the pop of the soda-water cork had
a preternatural sharpness. He came back carrying a pink and glistening
tumbler. Mr. Ricardo had followed his movements with oblique, coyly
expectant yellow eyes, like a cat watching the preparation of a saucer
of milk, and the satisfied sound after he had drunk might have been a
slightly modified form of purring, very soft and deep in his throat. It
affected Schomberg unpleasantly as another example of something inhuman
in those men wherein lay the difficulty of dealing with them. A
spectre, a cat, an ape--there was a pretty association for a mere man to
remonstrate with, he reflected with an inward shudder; for Schomberg had
been overpowered, as it were, by his imagination, and his reason could
not react against that fanciful view of his guests. And it was not only
their appearance. The morals of Mr. Ricardo seemed to him to be pretty
much the morals of a cat. Too much. What sort of argument could a mere
man offer to a . . . or to a spectre, either! What the morals of a
spectre could be, Schomberg had no idea. Something dreadful, no
doubt. Compassion certainly had no place in them. As to the ape--well,
everybody knew what an ape was. It had no morals. Nothing could be more
hopeless.

Outwardly, however, having picked up the cigar which he had laid aside
to get the drink, with his thick fingers, one of them ornamented by a
gold ring, Schomberg smoked with moody composure. Facing him, Ricardo
blinked slowly for a time, then closed his eyes altogether, with the
placidity of the domestic cat dozing on the hearth-rug. In another
moment he opened them very wide, and seemed surprised to see Schomberg
there.

"You're having a very slack time today, aren't you?" he observed. "But
then this whole town is confoundedly slack, anyhow; and I've never faced
such a slack party at a table before. Come eleven o'clock, they begin to
talk of breaking up. What's the matter with them? Want to go to bed so
early, or what?"

"I reckon you don't lose a fortune by their wanting to go to bed," said
Schomberg, with sombre sarcasm.

"No," admitted Ricardo, with a grin that stretched his thin mouth from
ear to ear, giving a sudden glimpse of his white teeth. "Only, you see,
when I once start, I would play for nuts, for parched peas, for any
rubbish. I would play them for their souls. But these Dutchmen aren't
any good. They never seem to get warmed up properly, win or lose. I've
tried them both ways, too. Hang them for a beggarly, bloodless lot of
animated cucumbers!"

"And if anything out of the way was to happen, they would be just
as cool in locking you and your gentleman up," Schomberg snarled
unpleasantly.

"Indeed!" said Ricardo slowly, taking Schomberg's measure with his eyes.
"And what about you?"

"You talk mighty big," burst out the hotel-keeper. "You talk of ranging
all over the world, and doing great things, and taking fortune by the
scruff of the neck, but here you stick at this miserable business!"

"It isn't much of a lay--that's a fact," admitted Ricardo unexpectedly.

Schomberg was red in the face with audacity.

"I call it paltry," he spluttered.

"That's how it looks. Can't call it anything else." Ricardo seemed to
be in an accommodating mood. "I should be ashamed of it myself, only you
see the governor is subject to fits--"

"Fits!" Schomberg cried out, but in a low tone. "You don't say so!" He
exulted inwardly, as if this disclosure had in some way diminished the
difficulty of the situation. "Fits! That's a serious thing, isn't it?
You ought to take him to the civil hospital--a lovely place."

Ricardo nodded slightly, with a faint grin.

"Serious enough. Regular fits of laziness, I call them. Now and then
he lays down on me like this, and there's no moving him. If you think I
like it, you're a long way out. Generally speaking, I can talk him over.
I know how to deal with a gentleman. I am no daily-bread slave. But when
he has said, 'Martin, I am bored,' then look out! There's nothing to do
but to shut up, confound it!"

Schomberg, very much cast down, had listened open-mouthed.

"What's the cause of it?" he asked. "Why is he like this? I don't
understand."

"I think I do," said Ricardo. "A gentleman, you know, is not such a
simple person as you or I; and not so easy to manage, either. If only I
had something to lever him out with!"

"What do you mean, to lever him out with?" muttered Schomberg
hopelessly.

Ricardo was impatient with this denseness.

"Don't you understand English? Look here! I couldn't make this
billiard table move an inch if I talked to it from now till the end of
days--could I? Well, the governor is like that, too, when the fits are
on him. He's bored. Nothing's worthwhile, nothing's good enough, that's
mere sense. But if I saw a capstan bar lying about here, I would soon
manage to shift that billiard table of yours a good many inches. And
that's all there is to it."

He rose noiselessly, stretched himself, supple and stealthy, with
curious sideways movements of his head and unexpected elongations of his
thick body, glanced out of the corners of his eyes in the direction of
the door, and finally leaned back against the table, folding his arms on
his breast comfortably, in a completely human attitude.

"That's another thing you can tell a gentleman by--his freakishness.
A gentleman ain't accountable to nobody, any more than a tramp on the
roads. He ain't got to keep time. The governor got like this once in a
one-horse Mexican pueblo on the uplands, away from everywhere. He lay
all day long in a dark room--"

"Drunk?" This word escaped Schomberg by inadvertence at which he became
frightened. But the devoted secretary seemed to find it natural.

"No, that never comes on together with this kind of fit. He just lay
there full length on a mat, while a ragged, bare-legged boy that he had
picked up in the street sat in the patio, between two oleanders near the
open door of his room, strumming on a guitar and singing tristes to him
from morning to night. You know tristes--twang, twang, twang, aouh, hoo!
Chroo, yah!"

Schomberg uplifted his hands in distress. This tribute seemed to flatter
Ricardo. His mouth twitched grimly.

"Like that--enough to give colic to an ostrich, eh? Awful. Well, there
was a cook there who loved me--an old fat, Negro woman with spectacles.
I used to hide in the kitchen and turn her to, to make me dulces--sweet
things, you know, mostly eggs and sugar--to pass the time away. I am
like a kid for sweet things. And, by the way, why don't you ever have
a pudding at your tablydott, Mr. Schomberg? Nothing but fruit, morning,
noon, and night. Sickening! What do you think a fellow is--a wasp?"

Schomberg disregarded the injured tone.

"And how long did that fit, as you call it, last?" he asked anxiously.

"Weeks, months, years, centuries, it seemed to me," returned Mr. Ricardo
with feeling. "Of an evening the governor would stroll out into the sala
and fritter his life away playing cards with the juez of the place--a
little Dago with a pair of black whiskers--ekarty, you know, a
quick French game, for small change. And the comandante, a one-eyed,
half-Indian, flat-nosed ruffian, and I, we had to stand around and bet
on their hands. It was awful!"

"Awful," echoed Schomberg, in a Teutonic throaty tone of despair. "Look
here, I need your rooms."

"To be sure. I have been thinking that for some time past," said Ricardo
indifferently.

"I was mad when I listened to you. This must end!"

"I think you are mad yet," said Ricardo, not even unfolding his arms or
shifting his attitude an inch. He lowered his voice to add: "And if
I thought you had been to the police, I would tell Pedro to catch
you round the waist and break your fat neck by jerking your head
backward--snap! I saw him do it to a big buck nigger who was flourishing
a razor in front of the governor. It can be done. You hear a low crack,
that's all--and the man drops down like a limp rag."

Not even Ricardo's head, slightly inclined on the left shoulder, had
moved; but when he ceased the greenish irises which had been staring out
of doors glided into the corners of his eyes nearest to Schomberg and
stayed there with a coyly voluptuous expression.

Joseph Conrad