“Gave you a fight, eh!” Jim asked encouragingly.
The other grunted.
“You’re certainly hard to get information from,” Jim burst out irritably. “Tell us about it. You ain’t goin’ to lose money just a-tellin’ a guy.”
“I guess I choked him some,” came the answer. Then, by way of explanation, “He woke up on me.”
“You did it neat. I never heard a sound.”
“Jim,” the other said with seriousness, “it’s a hangin’ matter. I fixed ‘m. I had to. He woke up on me. You an’ me’s got to do some layin’ low for a spell.”
Jim gave a low whistle of comprehension.
“Did you hear me whistle!” he asked suddenly.
“Sure. I was all done. I was just comin’ out.”
“It was a bull. But he wasn’t on a little bit. Went right by an’ kept a-paddin’ the hoof outa sight. Then I came back an’ gave you the whistle. What made you take so long after that?”
“I was waitin’ to make sure,” Matt explained.
“I was mighty glad when I heard you whistle again. It’s hard work waitin’. I just sat there an’ thought an’ thought … oh, all kinds of things. It’s remarkable what a fellow’ll think about. And then there was a darn cat that kept movin’ around the house an’ botherin’ me with its noises.”
“An’ it’s fat!” Jim exclaimed irrelevantly and with joy.
“I’m sure tellin’ you, Jim, it’s fat. I’m plum’ anxious for another look at ’em.”
Unconsciously the two men quickened their pace. Yet they did not relax from their caution. Twice they changed their course in order to avoid policemen, and they made very sure that they were not observed when they dived into the dark hallway of a cheap rooming house down town.
Not until they had gained their own room on the top floor, did they scratch a match. While Jim lighted a lamp, Matt locked the door and threw the bolts into place. As he turned, he noticed that his partner was waiting expectantly. Matt smiled to himself at the other’s eagerness.
“Them search-lights is all right,” he said, drawing forth a small pocket electric lamp and examining it. “But we got to get a new battery. It’s runnin’ pretty weak. I thought once or twice it’d leave me in the dark. Funny arrangements in that house. I near got lost. His room was on the left, an’ that fooled me some.”
“I told you it was on the left,” Jim interrupted.
“You told me it was on the right,” Matt went on. “I guess I know what you told me, an’ there’s the map you drew.”
Fumbling in his vest pocket, he drew out a folded slip of paper. As he unfolded it, Jim bent over and looked.
“I did make a mistake,” he confessed.
“You sure did. It got me guessin’ some for a while.”
“But it don’t matter now,” Jim cried. “Let’s see what you got.”
“It does matter,” Matt retorted. “It matters a lot … to me. I’ve got to run all the risk. I put my head in the trap while you stay on the street. You got to get on to yourself an’ be more careful. All right, I’ll show you.”
He dipped loosely into his trousers pocket and brought out a handful of small diamonds. He spilled them out in a blazing stream on the greasy table. Jim let out a great oath.
“That’s nothing,” Matt said with triumphant complacence. “I ain’t begun yet.”
From one pocket after another he continued bringing forth the spoil. There were many diamonds wrapped in chamois skin that were larger than those in the first handful. From one pocket he brought out a handful of very small cut gems.
“Sun dust,” he remarked, as he spilled them on the table in a space by themselves.
Jim examined them.
“Just the same, they retail for a couple of dollars each,” he said. “Is that all?”
“Ain’t it enough?” the other demanded in an aggrieved tone.
“Sure it is,” Jim answered with unqualified approval. “Better’n I expected. I wouldn’t take a cent less than ten thousan’ for the bunch.”
“Ten thousan’,” Matt sneered. “They’re worth twic’t that, an’ I don’t know anything about joolery, either. Look at that big boy!”
He picked it out from the sparkling heap and held it near to the lamp with the air of an expert, weighing and judging.