“A fool,” I said. “That’s what I am.”
“Why?” asked my wife. “What for?”
I brooded by our third-floor hotel window. On the Dublin street below a man passed, his face to the lamplight. “Him,” I muttered. “Two days ago —”
Two days ago as I was walking along, someone had “hissed” me from the hotel alley. “Sir, it’s important! Sir!”
I turned into the shadow. This little man in the direst tones said, “I’ve a job in Belfast if I just had a pound for the train fare!”
“A most important job!” he went on swiftly. “Pays well! I’ll mail you back the loan! Just give me your name and hotel—”
He knew me for a tourist. But it was too late; his promise to pay had moved me. The pound note crackled in my hand, being worked free from several others.
The man’s eye skimmed like a shadowing hawk. “If I had two pounds, I could eat on the way—”
I uncrumpled two bills.
“And three pounds would bring the wife—”
I unleafed a third.
“Ah, hell!” cried the man. “Five, just five poor pounds, would find us a hotel in that brutal city and let me get to the job, for sure!”
What a dancing fighter he was, light on his toes, weaving, tapping with his hands, flicking with his eyes, smiling with his mouth, jabbing with his tongue.
“Lord thank you, bless you, sir!”
He ran, my five pounds with him. I was half in the hotel before I realized that, for all his vows, he had not recorded my name.