Stage Stuck

Lennox Ballister, colored, reaffirms his belief in a stable currency

ARCHIE P. MCKISHNIE January 15 1927

Stage Stuck

Lennox Ballister, colored, reaffirms his belief in a stable currency

ARCHIE P. MCKISHNIE January 15 1927

Stage Stuck

Lennox Ballister, colored, reaffirms his belief in a stable currency


MR. LENNOX BALLISTER gulped like a diver taking cold water, as softly he closed the door on toast-and-bacon-flavored warmth and faced the nipping breeze of chill October dawn. It had cost him a mighty effort to unwind the arms of soothing Morpheus and venture forth in dewy chill this morning—but there was much at stake. To have waited until the rising sun had dispelled the frosty mists, he knew from experience, would have spelled disaster to his plan of action. His wife, Jane Ann, would have demanded to know certain things —and those certain things Lennox did not desire her to know.

That he had been the lucky one in the guessing contest put on by the Phoenix Stock Company and was entitled to the two hundred dollar prize, Jane Ann already knew; that the Phoenix had, on the night before, terminated their engagement in Chatville East and had so far failed to pay over the prize money, she also knew, and that the company would get clear away without discharging their obligation she shiveringly believed. Which was well. Len desired that Jane Ann believe just that, exactly.

He had risen before daylight purposely to set in action a plan which he had, through sleepless hours, evolved.

“I got a trick up my sleeve dat’ll make dat crook Manager Jackson set up and look startled,” Len murmured, as he crossed the frosted lawn “Right here’s whar I kerlects my jest dues an’ mebbe more. Dat manager Jackson am goin’ ter fin’ out he’s monkeyin’ wif one dat bears de dignity of law an’ order an’ wears* a constable shield. Eder he pays me two hundered dollars dis mawnin’, er him get two hundered days in de clink fer false pertenses an’ fraud. Likewise, he gets his trunks confiscateded ter Law. Hotdam, dis am where! plays bofe ends ob luck in de middle! Dame Luck, press yo’r lips t’ mine. Here’s whar Jane Ann fails ter do de stowaway ack on yo’r las’ gift to yo’r dotin’ chil’. When I kerlects dat money, I puts it in de cigar-box safe in de stable loft. Glories be! dis am whar I scents freedom an’ dat what has been long denied.”

So ruminating, Len opened his garden gate and turned his footsteps towards the Valley Hotel, at which the Phoenix Opera Company were stopping.

Jake Bently, the porter, was just unlocking the door when Len came up.

“Wha’ yo’ doin’ up so early, constable?” he asked suspiciously. “Is so yo’se af’er me on dat Covered Wagon job—I kin prove an alabias.”

“Ain’t af’er yo’ on no job ’tall,” Len returned. “I’s down here in capacity ob private citizen, not as ossifer ob be law. Where dat show manager, Jackson, sleep in dis joint, Jake?”

“Him don’ sleep,” Jake said. “Plays poker all night an’ admires hisse! all day. Him’s in dar now, in de bar, countin’ udder players regrets. Lor’! dat Jackson sharper mus’ hab win sixty dollars las’ night, if so he win a cent.

“I’ll move in den,” Len said. “I craves converse wif dat gent—Too bad him’s so popular, Jake. Yo’ll miss him when he goes ’way.”

“If him don’ go soon, I’ll miss dese clothes I’m wearin’,” Jake replied ruefully. “I ain’t been able ter save a cent since dat yaller Nigger’s been here.”

Len entered the hotel softly, and crossed the empty sitting-room to the bar.

Just inside the door, seated at a small table, sat a tall immaculately clad mulatto, eating a sandwich and counting a stack of bills and change.

He glanced up quickly as Len entered. “Hello!” he snapped, “What does yo’ want?”

“Dat,” Len replied, seating himself on the opposite side of the table, “remains ter be seen, Misto Jackson. Jes’

now I craves dat two hundred prize money yo’ owes me; udderwise if it ain’t paid right prompt, I wants yo’ an’ yo’rn.”

“Yo’ can’t make me pay, an’ yo’ can’t neder hol’ me,” Jackson said, pushing back his chair.

“Lis’en, man,” Len returned. “If I was as sure ’bout keepin’ dat two hundred bucks as I am ob gettin’ it, I’d sing lullabys ob joy. Certain it am dat money’s due me, an’ I proposes ter kerelect it now.”

“Yo’ got a fat chance,” sneered the theatre man. “Yo’ can’t bluff me like yo’ bluff dese local niggers. Yo’r up again real hard stuff, Misto Ballister. I don’ min’ tellin’ yo’, seein’ us is alone wifout witnesses, dat yo’ see befo’ yo’ a short-changin’ artist whose hands refuses ter be tied.”

“An’ yo’ sees befo’ yo’,” Len returned without the slightest heat, “a County Constable ob de law who’ll tie dem same hands wif steel links if so yo’ don’ fork ober dat money. Is yo’ goin’ ter or is yo’ isn’t?”

Mr. Jackson’s face lost a little of its sneering confidence. “What yo’ mean by dat?” he demanded.

“I means,” Len said, producing a warrant, “dat if yo’ don’ pony ober dem two hundered iron hosses, I takes yo’ in on dis.”

“Dat ain’t no warrantie fer me,” Jackson scoffed, scanning the paper. “My name ain’t Jacob Dawson, an’ I ain’t wanted fer car-stealin’ neder.”

“Neberthelessly,” Len informed him, “I kin make myse’f beliebe yo’ is Jacob, an’ arres’ yo’, cayn’t I?” “But dat ain’t noways legal,” Jackson fumed.

“Us ain’t dealin’ wif legalalites,” Len said. “What yo’se doin’ ain’t legal neder. I kin lock yo’ up now, an perfer under charges later. I don’ have ter gib yo’ dis chance I offers ob squarin’ yo’se’f, but I’s finkin' if so yo’ ain’t clear ob dis towm by night, dey’ll be a lynchin bee, an’ as County Constable I don’ want no mob vi’lence. Pay me mine an’ yo’ goes, refuse, an’ yo’ stays. Which am it goin’ ter be?”

Mr. Jackson shivered and eased his shirt collar. “Yo’ win,” he said sullenly. “I don’ crave ter be hanged. It’s a pore sport dat don’ know when he’s licked. Come along ober ter de theatre, an’ I’ll get yo’ de money out de safe.” He got up, and Len followed him from the hotel to the Chatville Opera House.

Mr. Jackson unlocked the door and led his persecutor into a dark office smelling of fresh paint and damp canvas.

Len lit a cheroot and waited while Manager Jackson unlocked the rusty and ponderous safe and from it took a small roll of bills.

“How’s I goin’ ter know yo’s not double-crossin’ me?” he demanded in ugly tones. “If I gibs yo’ dis two hundred, what’s ter pervent yo’ from denyin’ I did so?”

“Yo’ gibs me de money an’ I gibs yo’ a receipt fer same,” Len said. “All I wants is mine.”

From the roll, Mr. Jackson peeled two yellow backed one hundred dollar bills. “Wait half a momen’, cayn’t yo’,” he snarled as Len reached for the money.

He seated himself at a small table, drew a blank sheet of paper towards him and wrote: ‘In consideration of Two Hundred Dollars, here acknowledged received, from J. W. Jackson, Manager of the Phoenix Stock Players, I agree to relinquish all claim against said company.’ “Here yo’,” Jackson said, turning to Len, “put yo’r John Henry on de bottom while I go call a couple ob witnesses.”

He returned almost immediately with two early-rising stage hands, who appended their signatures as witnesses to the transaction.

“Now den,” said Mr. Jackson darkly, “dere’s yo’r two hundred dollars.”

He passed over the bills and Len, with a long but inaudible sigh of satisfaction, signed the receipt.

“Ob co’rse, yo’ understan’, de Excelsior Lodge, under whose auspices dis contest was held, am entitled ter half dat money,” Mr.

Jackson reminded the pleased recipient.

“Yo’ll see it gets its half?”

“It’s alre’dy got it,” Len responded. “I is de ’Celsior Lodge. I done organized dat secret society an’ I hol’ de charter in my name. I is gran’ past mastery an’ all de udder works.” ¡g

“Den I’m in de clear now. I kin move out wif my belongings an’ company any time I so ple’se? Dere won’t be no injunction attached on dese trunks?”

“De law cayn’t nowise attach yo’ er yo’rn while yo’ hoi’s sech clearance papers as dat receipt I jes’ signed,” Len assured him as he moved toward the door.

/"\NCE again outside, Len moved with a new elasticity of step. The October morn held sunlight and joy. All the mists and frost had vanished. Before him lay a newly laved, newly awakened realm of opportunities.

The world was beckoning. Len walked on and on, leaGng the town behind him, tuning his happy soul to the lilt of friendly trees and open spaces.

Gold was everywhere, in sky and field and v/oods. Gold in magic fabric of mist adorned the face of the river, burnished the tips of the distant hills. And gold— two hundred dollars worth of it was his—all his. The certificates in his pocket required only to be presented at any bank and those pockets would sag to the friendly clink of it.

“Hotdam!” Len murmured ecstatically. “I wishes Orinocco was along. Dat dawg woul’ certainly un’erstan’ my feelin’ ob elation an’ paw de air fer happiness. Hereaf’er him gets full sized beef-steaks ’stead ob scraps, an’ meybe so us takes ter de highroad fer life. Gollies, dis certainly am de existence fer me!”

It was midday before the lessening of his exuberant spirit allowed Len to bring his soaring mind back to things earthly.

“Lor’, I bes’ back-trek an’ get dis two hundered safe up in de hay-loft,” he told himself. “Like as not, Jane Ann is on my track right now, so I’ll rabbit-lope hum along de back way an’ come in on de stable frum de rear. I do hope dat good fer nuffin’ dawg don’ take a notion ter nose out my steps an’ lead dat woman my way.”

Len’s fears were groundless. Without mishap, he reached the goal of his desire and approaching the stable from the rear, slipped around to the door.

He spent an anxious moment as he unlocked the rusty padlock. He was in full view of the house, and Jane Ann’s eyes might

even at that moment, be watching him from one of the curtained windows.

He sighed his relief as he slipped inside. Often, he had been obliged to retreat behind the friendly walls of this stable, when Jane Ann became insistent that certain of his doings be explained. It was only a ramshackle building, but the iron hook on the inside of the door made it a sanctuary. Len felt easier after he had securely fastened this hook.

Seating himself on the oat-box, he proceeded to regale his soul with another look at the money which spelled freedom from galling restraint.

Then, chuckling softly, he climbed the rickety ladder to the hay-loft.

Reaching the loft, he proceeded to reconnoitre by applying an eye to a crack which commanded a view of his domicile.

As he watched hopefully and fearfully, he saw the hound, Orinocco, appear from around the back of the cabin. The dog stood sniffing the air uncertainly, then dropping his nose to the ground he came straight down the path to the gate.

“Jerusalem!” Len whispered, “Dat dawg’s swift on dis coon’s spoor. Him’ll track me to dis stable an’ howl his fool head off till I let’s him in. If so Jane Ann sees him—•”

Len was shinning down the ladder. There was only one thing to do—have the door open and ready for Orinocco, and so save noise and trouble.

“If ebber I own a blood-houn’ ag’in,” he told himself, “it’ll be on a desert islán’ whar dey ain’t sech a fing as a wife. Dat dawg jes’ makes my life one big blister ob trubble.”

He opened the stable door. “Come on yo’ hideful ob perniciousness,” he said, reaching a long arm for the delighted and fawning Orinocco.

“Up in de lof’ yo’ go, an’ dere yo’ stays till I gets a chanct ter conclude my ven tur’ inter high financie. Yo’ don’ budge outer dis stable till I gets dat money safe banked. Come ’long!”

As his master’s fingers clenched on the loose skin of his neck, Orinocco’s violated feelings forced from him a long heart-rending wail. That cry reached the ears of Jane Ann, who was baking cookies in the kitchen.

She rushed from the house just in time to see Orinocco leave terra firma and vanish within the stable.

Len was fumbling with the door-hook when the door was yanked open and Jane Ann confronted him.

“So, criminal,” she cried, scathingly, “yo’s torturin’ de dawg, is yo’? Ventin’ yo’r debilishness un a pore, innercent, lil’ animal dat all his life has showed yo’ only affection. Now den—”

Jane Ann paused and her eyes grew round. She had caught sight of the money which Len’s long fingers had found it impossible to relinquish.

“Man,” she demanded, “gimme dat money!”

Promptly Len handed it over.

“Whare’s yo’ annex all dis cash, nigger?” Jane Ann demanded. “Who paid yo’ two hundered dollars hush money, criminal?”

“Law’, Jane Ann,” Len replied weakly. “Dat ain’t hush money. I wouldn’ accept any sech.”

“Den how yo’ come ter get it?”

Len remained silent.

“Umph, well yo’ come ’long ter house. Us am goin’ ter look inter dis an’ look mighty deep. Bring Orinocco, an’ see yo’ don’ kick him.”

Len and the hound exchanged commiserating glances. “Gawd knows, I wisht I had wings ter fly, right now, Orinocco,” he murmured. “I’d sure test ’em out.”

“Come ’long, an’ cease yo’r mutterin’s,” Jane Ann spoke over her shoulder.

She marched Len to the house and seated him in a chair. “Now den,” she demanded, “I wants de trufe frum yo’, if so it woun’t strain yo’ too much ter utter it. I wants ter know how come yo’ ter get dis money?”

“It was owed me, Jane Ann,” Len replied, gazing hopelessly about for an opening by which he might escape.

“Yo’s lyin’,” Jane Ann said sternly. “Dere ain’t enuff earnin’ power in dat long black body 0’ yo’rn ter make anybudy owe yo’ two hundered dollars. Sumbudy has give yo’ dat coin as a bribe.”

“Oh, Lordy!” groaned Len, “Goodbye money and hope. Lis’en, Jane Ann,” he said, “Manager Jackson done paid me dat guessing contes’ money not a hour ago. I was only jes’ bringin’ it hum ter yo’, Jane Ann.” “Well,” Jane Ann said, “if dat’s so, well and good.”

“Wharabouts yo’ goin’?” Len asked anxiously, as she reached for her coat.

“I’m goin’ down town ter bank dis money,” Jane Ann told him. “Seein’s us has got it, us am goin’ ter hoi’ tight ter it.”

“But, Jane Ann,” Len cried, “I aimed ter buy a new cayr wif dat money, fer yo’r birfday.”

“Nigger,” Jane Ann said scornfully, “yo’ aimed ter lose it in a crap game. I’s carryin’ it hum.”

She went out and shut the door behind her. Len sank into a chair. Orinocco crept from the wood-box and licked his hand.

“Pup,” his master spoke solemnly, “if de debil eber gets dat woman—an’ he’s boun’ ter sooner er later—it ain’t goin’ ter do me no good, kase him’s boun’ ter take it out on me. Dere she goes trapsin’ off ter bank money which rightfully am yo’rn and mine. Us don’ have no consideration showed us, ’tall. Me’n yo’ an’ me am goin’ ter leab dat woman fer good an’ we’re goin’ now.”

MR. JAMES WILBERFORCE JACKSON, manager of The Phoenix Stock Players, stood facing the three members of the Chatville Excelsior Secret Brotherhood Lodge, his mien one of lofty defiance and contempt.

“Gentlemen,” he said, “let it be understood dat when I put on a guessin’ contes’’ like dis one just closed, an’ which was held under the auspices ob your lodge, I lives up to my word.”

Mr. Abe White, spokesman of the committee, cleared his throat. “Misto’ Jackson,” he said gently, “not for worlds would us hab you place any misdestruction on our action in callin’ on you to-day. My confers, Junior Warden Hudson an’ Tyler Brown, as likewise myself, as Grand Master cf de ’Celsiors, simply visit yo’ on dis occasion ter remin’ yo’ Continued on page 30

Continued on page 30

Continued from page 17

dat fifty per cent, ob dat prize money am ter be paid to de lodge. Us prefers dat yo’ pay us dat hundered direct; in udder words, us prefers ter kerlect rader dan try ter kerlect. Us knows Misto Ballister right well, an’ us feels dat once him gets dat two lodge kin whistle.” He glanced at his fellow committeemen for approval. Mr. Brown nodded confirmation, but Mr. Hudson frowned darkly. “Us knows Len am crooked as a corkscrew,” that gentleman growled. “Nuffin’ wif de dollar sign on it ebber gets past dat Nigger’s fingers. An’ us don’ know yo’ at all,” he added venomously; “ ’cept dat yo’s been playin’ shows in our opery house an’ are pullin’ out ter day.”

Homer’s eyes roamed down Mr. Jackson’s nattily clad form. “You may be straight, an’ you may not be so straight. Yo’ gotter chance ter prove up right now. Jes’ pay us our hundered an’ do what yo’ likes ’bout Ballister. Us should worry ’bout him.”

A sarcastic smile flitted across Mr. Jackson’s mahogany face. “Ple’se ter remember, Misto Hudson,” he said, “yo’s speakin’ to a gentleman an’ not one ob your prize-fightin’ kind. I allows no man ter question my honesty-—even de champion pugilist ob dis county.”

Homer lunged to his feet, but White and Brown restrained him. “Keep quiet, Homer,” White whispered, “yo’ll spile eberyfing.”

“Misto Jackson,” he spoke suavely, as Hudson subsided muttering. “Referring once ag’in ter de ’Celsiors’ share of de prize, us’ll be right glad ter get our money in tens er twenties. Do I seem clear?” “Yo’ seem,” said Mr. Jackson, “quite a lot ob fings. But if so it’s money yo’ longs ter see, jes’ lamp dis.”'

He opened a drawer in the desk and brought out a huge roll of yellow banknotes. “One hundered-—two hundered— five hundered—twelve—” he counted, “and plenty more ob like denomination. Money, gentlemen,” he said caustically, “am de least ob my worries.”

“Us’ll jes’ releabe yo’ ob one ob dem century temper-teazers den, Misto Jackson.”

Abe reached for the bill, but the theatre man drew it beyond his reach.

“Jes’ one moment dere, sir,” he sneered. “I hab a talk ter make ter yo’ gents, of a illuminatin’ natur’.

“Talks a heap cheaper den payin’,” Homer spoke up, “but yo’ don’ get away wif it. Right here’s whar yo’ get dat pretty face ob yo’rn lifted—”

Homer heaved himself out of his seat, then fell back again.

Mr. Jackson was standing pat, with a full hand.

“Yo’ try any ob yo’r rough stuff,” he addressed Hudson soothingly, “an’ dis lil’ gun starts smokin’. I ain’t wantin’ truble, un’erstan’, an’ I ain’t requirin’ no face-liftin’, neder. Yo’ stick quiet now, er yo’r goin’ ter be a long time quiet, later.” He glanced at the other two delegates and continued:

“I don’ pay out dat hundred but once, an’ I’ve already paid it once. Dis man Ballister collected dat prizi money dis mawnin’-, I paid him two hundered dollars and got his receipt fer same!”

He stood smiling. The committee of three had risen, and as one man was moving towards the door.

Mr. Jackson chuckled as their footsteps died away, and placed the stage pistol back in the drawer which held the stage money.

After which, he tiptoed to a wardrobe trunk in a corner of the dressing-room and from it extracted a leather pouch containing last night’s box-office receipts. This was real cash, two hundred and two dollars, mostly silver. Mr. Jackson intended to change the silver for bills which would be easier carried—and spread his

wings for new fields. What man has done before, man can do again, if he’s lucky.

Mr. Jackson was clever. He had to be in his precarious calling. He sat smiling gloatingly and thinking. Then he arose and going to the wings, called to a young negro who was pasting a label on one of the trunks which would depart that afternoon.

Tommy Rodgers, the local stage carpenter, responded cheerfully to the summons. Everybody in Chatville East liked Tommy.

“Everyfing O.K., Tommy?” Jackson asked as the young negro appeared «

“Yessah, Misto Jackson. Last load ob stuff ’ll be on way to depot in ten minutes,” Tommy answered.

“I want yo’ ter slip over ter bank an’ get dis money changed ter bills,” Jackson said. “I’ll gib yo’ a two-spot fer yo’r trouble. Can’t get away myse’f. Got to send some wires.”

“Jes’ wait till I get dis las’ trunk labeled, an’ I’s on my way,” cried the obliging Tommy.

TEN was packing his battered valise, G when he heard voices approaching, voices raised high in dispute or anger.

“Orinocco,” he whispered, peering from the window, “dis am de end ob all fings habin’ ter do wif life. Here comes Homer an’ Abe, an’ Jane Ann wif ’em. Jedgin’ by de way her’s swinging her arms, dere’s goin’ ter be eruptions ob plenty flame an’ smoke.”

He kicked the valise beneath the bed and stood waiting for the worst.

The door burst open and Jane Ann, closely followed by the Excelsior delegates, surged into the room.

“Dat money ain’t no good!” Jane Ann cried, hurling the two bills from her. Banker Dawson done say it am jes’ false money what dey uses on de stage. Now, yo’ lyin’ crockadile, yo’ sees what yo’r perfidy get me inter. Yo’ make a fool ob yo’rse’f an’ me too.”

“See here, Len,” Abe White broke in. “This man Jackson has perpertrationed a fraud, an’ yo’ got ter have a warrant swored out fer him.

“I move us grab him an’ hang him,” spat the vindictive Homer. “Dat crook done cheated us, an’ him is goin’ ter pay. De ’Celsior Lodge needs its share ob dat prize. Len, yo’ put a rejunction on his trunks too. Us’ll show dat man Jackson a trick wif holes in it.”

“Lis’en, eberybudy,” Len said hopelessly. “If so Jackson put phoney money on me, us have gotter stan’ fer it. Ain’t no way us kin get de law ob dat rascal. Kase why? Kase I gib him a receipt fer dat two hundered. Him’s got us any way you want ter look at it. Us cayn’t detain him, us cayn’t hoi’ his effects. He kin go away smilin’ wif glee and us cayn’t tech him. Oh Lor’! Talk ’bout bein’ stage struck—right hay’r’s whar we’s been stage stuck■—an’ stage stuck right!”

Abe White looked and Homer, and Homer looked at Abe.

“Well,” White sighed, “dat’s dat, den.”

Homer gave Len one long, murderous glare. “Yo’ pore fish,” he sneered, “ter let him get away wif dat stuff. Here’s where I kellects from dat nigger in my own way.”

“Homer,” Len warned, “don’ yo’ start any rough-stuff, kase if so yo’ do, yo’ gets peppered plenty. Dat Jackson am a bad man. Him’ll drill yo’ full ob holes if yo’ ’tempt ter manhandle him. I know his kin’.”

“Yo’,” Jane Ann flared, “don’ know nuffin. Yo’s jes’ what Homer says yo’ is, a pore fish. An’ right here’s whar yo’ bes’ hunt water, else I’s goin’ ter gib yo’ some dat’s too hot fer yo’r gills. Get outer here all free ob yo’,” she cried, lifting a huge iron kettle from the stove, “else I’s sure goin’ ter scald yo’ white.”

There was a rush for the door, a jam, a slam.

Jane Ann stood alone.

She turned glaring orbs on the table, in search of the yellow notes on which she had builded high hopes and which had proved a flimsy foundation.

They were gone.

“Now Gawd help us all,” she moaned, sinking into a chair. “Len’ll pass dat phoney money, an’ come hum wif a new automobile. Yo’ jes’ see!”

T EN was tuning up his Ford in the G-' stable when he chanced to espy, passing, a youthful negro carrying a black satchel. Len’s soul was sick. He had been made the victim of a fraud.

“Hoi’ up a minute, Tommy,” he called. “Whar yo’ goin’?”

“Down ter bank,” the guileless Tommy answered. “Gotter get some money changed fer Misto Jackson. Him wants big bills.”

“Dat so?” Len said, coming forward. “How much money yo’ got t’ change, Tommy?” he asked.

“Two hundered dollars, most in quarters. Lor’, it sure is quite a load ter carry!’

“Why, Tommy,” Len said, “I jes’ dis minute got paid two hundered dollar bills by a man what owed me. I was goin’ down ter get dem same changed inter quarters what I could use fer change in the ’Celsior Bazzar ter night. Yo’ might as well have dese as get ’em frum de bank, an’ it’ll save us bofe time.”

From a pocket Len drew the two hundred dollar bills, stage-money. “Gollies,” Tommy exulted, “ain’t I lucky! Didn’ want ter go ter bank, kase I owes a note dats two days pas’ doo, fer twenty-five dollars.”

. “Pshaw, Tommy!” Len said, “I’ll jes’ len’ yo’ twenty-five an’ yo’ kin pay dat bank. Radder owe me den bank, wouldn’ yo’?”

“Sure would,” cried the relieved Tommy.

Len placed a horse blanket on the oatbox and together they counted the change in the bag.

“Jes’ exactly two hundered and two dollars,” Len said. “What’ll we do ’bout de two?”

“Dat two’s mine,” Tommy said.“Jackson done tol’ me ter keep it fer my trubble. Now I bes’ go back an’ gib him dese bills.”

“Sure,” Len said, “I’ll go ’long wif yo’, Tommy.”

MR. JACKSON was passing up and down in front of his hotel when Len drew the Ford to a spluttering halt.

Jackson’s eyes sought Tommy Rodgers’ “Get dat money changed?” he asked.

“Yessah,” Tommy answered. “Didn’ hab ter go t’ bank, sah. Misto Ballister here, done had two one hundered dollar bills on him, so I done traded him de silber.”

Jackson threw Len a sick, frightened look.

Len was lighting a cheroot. “Misto Jackson,” he said, after the weed was aglow, “I takes dis oppertunity ter t’ank yo’ ag’in fer de two hundered prize money which yo’ paid me dis mawnin’. I was jes’ goin’ ober ter bank ter get dem big bills changed inter smaller, when Tommy here comes along an’ ’splains his erran’.”

He urbanely smiled down on the shivering Jackson. “So, sah, me’n Tommy jes’ make a swap, an’ everybuddy’s satisfied.” Len bowed, prodded the Ford into life and kicked the sack at his feet so that it jingled merrily.

“Goodbye, sah, and good luck!” he called as he drove away.

“Now, Tommy,” he said to his seatcompanion. “Us’ll go to bank, pay dat note ob yo’rn an’ place dis paltry change ob mine in safe custody.”