Page:Germ Growers.djvu/167

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162
THE GERM GROWERS.

about him, such as you will sometimes see in the eyes of a very bad-tempered man when he is drunk. "Don't you remember Penruddock?" I said, again of course using the real name. He started again, and I thought he brightened, but it was a queer sort of brightening.

"Penruddock?" he said. "Penruddock and Bob Easterly: curse him and curse the little beggar!" And then he gave a nasty laugh. His voice was thick, like the voice of a man half stupefied with drink or suffering from active brain disease. I thought at first that the name Penruddock had awakened no recollection in his mind, but that he mistook it for the name of a man. Since then, however, I have thought that perhaps "the little beggar" was the boy that he was cruel to, and that the name of Penruddock had reminded him of the matter. Anyhow he turned and looked steadily at me and said slowly, "Oh, so the governor has got you; I wish you joy of the governor." And then he laughed a coarse, harsh kind of laugh. It was not loud, and there was not much expression in it, but what there was was cruel. Then he made as if to pass us, and we let him pass: there was nothing to be got out of him. I am not absolutely sure to this day whether he was James Redpath or not.

That night Jack and I talked long and earnestly. I