Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/178

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“Well, well, well!’’ exclaimed Hardtack, grinning from ear toear. “Look who’s here!”

They grinned back at him.

“Where’re you guys headin’?” he inquired.

“The Acropolis.”

‘‘So’re we,” said Hardtack, pleased to discover he wasn’t on a fool’s errand and that others knew about the place. Then and there they joined forces. The gobs told them that the destroyer to which they belonged was anchored in the harbour of Phalerum and a large liberty party was ashore.

“How about a li’l’ drink before we go see that place?” Hardtack suggested. “It’ll look better.”

They agreed that the point was well taken. Accordingly, on arrival at the station, the five of them piled into a horse cab and set out for what the gobs called Shanghai, that they might hoist a couple of ouzos before tackling the serious business of the evening. None of them spoke Greek and the cabby did not know a word of English, yet he started off without hesitation, cracking his whip.

“How does he know where we want to go?” Wally wanted to know.

“He don’t,” answered a gob; “but he keeps on goin’ till we tell him to stop. It works fine.”

Shanghai is a cabaret district of Athens much frequented by sailors. Just as they entered it a terrific clamour broke out directly ahead and the street echoed to the tumult of combat. Men came running from all directions. In ten seconds the crowd grew so dense that their cab could not move.

They sat there and listened to fierce yells, the thudding of chairs and overturned tables, crash of glass and splintering wood.

“Say, what’s comin’ off?” they demanded of the citizens near them.

“T think,” said one who understood, “somebody is angry.”

“You’re sure it ain’t a weddin’?” rejoined Hardtack.

The native made some inquiries and shrugged his shoulders.

“The Americans and the English, they dispute,’”’ he announced.

Next instant the cab was empty—empty, with the driver howling for the police and calling heaven to witness what had