WE ENTERTAIN A JAIL-BIRD
risen from his seat and was now standing beside him. “But how did you know?” he asked in astonishment. “Most of my visitors, if they look at them at all, think they are Chinese.”
“Because no one, if he can get ivory, makes a thing like this of bone”—and he held it up to our gaze—“and everybody out of jail who has this skill can get ivory. I’ve made a lot myself—never as fine as these—this man must have been an expert. I used to keep from going crazy by doing this sort of thing—that and the old dodge of taming fleas so they’d eat out of my hand. What a pile of good stuff you have here—regular museum”—and with a searching, comprehensive glance he replaced the candle and regained his chair.
I bent forward and touched his elbow.
“We’ve entertained all sorts of people here,” I said with a laugh, “but I think this is the first time we have ever had an out-and-out ticket-of-leave man. Do you mind telling us how it happened?”
“No; but it wouldn’t interest you. Just one of those fool scrapes a fellow gets into when he is chucked out neck and heels into the world.”