Page:My Life and Loves.djvu/150

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face with my left fist. The next moment we had clenched and fallen. As luck and youth would have it, I fell on top. At once I put out all my strength, struck the fellow hard in the face and at the same time tore my bills away. The next moment I was on my feet with my roll deep in my pocket and both fists ready for the next assault. To my astonishment the hobo picked himself up and said confidingly:

"I'm hungry, weak, or you wouldn't have downed me so easy." And then he went on with what to me seemed incredible impudence:

"You should peel me off a dollar at least for hittin' me like that," and he stroked his jaw as if to ease the pain.

"I've a good mind to give you in charge," said I, suddenly realizing that I had the law on my side.

"If you don't cash up," barked the hobo, "I'll call the cops and say you've grabbed my wad."

"Call away," I cried: "we'll see who'll be believed."

But the hobo knew a better trick. In a familiar wheedling voice he began again:

"Come, young fellow, you'll never miss one dollar and I'll put you wise to a good many things here in Chicago. You had no business to pull out a wad like that in a lonely place to tempt a hungry man . . . ."

"I was going to help you," I said hesitatingly.

"I know," replied my weird acquaintance, "but I prefer to help myself," and he grinned. "Take me to a hash-house: I'm hungry and I'll put you wise to many things; you're a tenderfoot and show it."

Clearly the hobo was the master of the situation and somehow or other his whole attitude stirred my curiosity.

"Where are we to go?" I asked. "I don't know any restaurant near here except the Fremont House."