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"We were very good to the Swedes when they ruled over us in Bornholm three hundred years ago," said the stocky man, downing his cherry brandy at a gulp and motioning Mr. Cohan for a refill. "We had to kill all of them one night. While it was being done, some of our people ran into the church and rang the church bells, so that the souls of all the Swedes should rise to heaven on the music. For several hours they continued to pull the ropes, although it was terribly hard work for their arms and they became very tired."

The second cherry brandy followed the first. Professor Thott contemplated the bald cranium, surrounded by a crescent of pale hair, and said thoughtfully: "I can perceive that you Danes are an extremely tenderhearted people."

"That is most true," said the stocky man. His whole face was covered by a network of tiny red lines. "But it is not always for us—how do the English say it?—'beer and skating.' I remember—"

The door opened, and he checked as into Gavagan's came a tall, thin, knobby policeman, accompanied by a small man with sharp eyes, in a neat blue serge suit. The policeman extended a hand across the bar to Mr. Cohan, who shook it fervently.

"How are you, Julius?"

"How are you, my boy?" Then he turned to face the others.

"Hello, Professor," he said to Thott. "Meet my friend, Mr. McClintock."

There was more handshaking. Thott said: "This is Captain Axel Ewaldt, of the Danish merchant marine, Officer Cohan, Mr. McClintock. Shall we have a round? He was just telling a story to illustrate how sentimental the Danes are. Make mine a Rye High-ball, Mr. Cohan."

"Just a sherry," said McClintock. "A people of high moral standards. They have less crime than any nation in Europe."

Captain Ewaldt beamed; Patrolman Cohan said: "Mr. McClintock gives talks on crime. He's just been over to the Police Boys' Club doing it. He's an expert."

"I have often wondered how one became an expert on crime," said Professor Thott, meditatively.

"By personal association in my case," said McClintock. "I don't in the least mind telling you, not in the least. Until the grace of the Lord came upon me, I was engaged in criminal activity. The title of my talk is 'Crime does not pay,' and I am happy to say my efforts have been rewarding."

Patrolman Cohan said: "This was known as Dippie Louie. He was a left breech hook and could kiss the dog."

Professor Thott gazed at Dippie Louie with polite interest, but Ewaldt said: "Some schnapps, Mr. Cohan. This cherry makes one cold inside, and a man should warm himself." He addressed the officer: "Be so good to explain. I am not understanding."

"A left breech hook can lift a poke—beg pardon, take a wallet out of a man's left breeches pocket. And kissing the dog means he can do it while standing face to face."

"A highly skilled profession," said McClintock. "Ah, my friends, if the effort and training expended on criminal activity were only employed in the service of humanity, we would not—"

Thott said, rather hastily: "You were going to tell us about the Danes being kindhearted, Captain Ewaldt."

"That is correct," said the Captain. "I was yust remembering how I am in the city of Boston one St. Patrick's Day, walking down the dock and minding my own business. Along comes this big Irishman, and anybody can see he has too much to drink, and because I do not have green on for the day, he pushes me. Once is all right, but the second time, I got my little Danish up, and I pushed him in the water—with my fist. But I was really very good to him, because if I have not done this, he would be falling in the water to drown after dark when there is nobody to rescue him."

Mr. Cohan gave an inarticulate sound, but it was McClintock who said: "What makes you so certain?"

"More schnapps, please. Because this is early in the morning, and he would be drinking more all day, and everyone knows that an Irishman cannot drink all day without falling down."

Patrolman Cohan gave an inarticulate sound; Mr. Cohan put both hands on the bar, and said: "And would you be saying, now, that youse Swedes can hold your liquor better than the Irish that's brought up on it? Go on with you."

"I am not Swedish," said Ewaldt, "yust a good Danish man. And I am saying that I am brought up on the island of Bornholm, and I can drink three times as much as any Irishman."

"Would you care to bet five dollars on that, now?" said Mr. Cohan, dangerously.

"It is too little. Five dollars valuta will not even buy the schnapps I am drinking."

"Think pretty well of yourself, don't you?" said Mr. Cohan. "I can see now that you must be a real artist at drinking." Patrolman Cohan snickered at this brilliant sarcasm as Mr. Cohan went on: "Not but what everyone should have something to be proud of. But if you feel that way about it, maybe you'd be liking to have a little contest for twenty-five dollars, and the loser pays the bills?"

Wheels appeared to be revolving in Ewaldt's head. "That I will do," he said. "You are drinking with me?"

"Not me, my fine young felly," said Mr. Cohan. "I have the bar and all to take care of, and it would be worth the best part of me neck if Gavagan come in and found me trying to drink down one of the trade. But Dippie Louie here, he has more than a drop of the right blood in him, and I call to mind many's the time I've seen him lay away his share."

"It was the cause of my ruin and my descent into crime," said McClintock. "But I undeniably possess a special ability to absorb the drink. It's because my ancestors come from Galway, it is, where the wind blows so cold that if a man drinks water and then goes out of doors, he's no better than an icicle in no time at all."

"I am not wanting to ruin you again," said Ewaldt.

Patrolman Cohan spoke up: "You'll not be ruining Louie McClintock, that drank down the Bohemian champion at the truck drivers' picnic. And besides, I'm here meself to see that he gets home all right."

McClintock gravely extended his hand and took Ewaldt's. "For the honor of old Erin," he said. "Twenty-five dollars and the loser pays the bills. What shall we drink?"

"Schnapps some kind. It is no matter to me."

Mr. Cohan set a bottle of Irish whiskey on the bar, produced a couple of Scotch-and-soda glasses and filled them halfway up, adjusting the liquid level with meticulous care. "Skaall" said Ewaldt, and tossed his off as though it were a pony. McClintock went more slowly, rolling the last mouthful around his tongue before he sank it, and said: "That makes you cock your tail, now! Fill them again, Mr. Cohan."

Thott said: "I think that, to be perfectly fair, a slight interval should be allowed for the—ah, dissipation of the shock effect. Mr. McClintock, if I am not too importunate, may I ask what led you to change professions?"

"Education," said McClintock. "Education and the grace of God. I took a correspondence course in writing short stories while I was in Dannemora." He reached for his glass, which Mr. Cohan had loaded again. "Ah, up Erin!" The two Cohans nodded approval, and Thott raised his own glass in salutation. Ewaldt drained his potion off without lifting an eyebrow, tapped the glass with a fingernail, and pushed it toward Mr. Cohan. The bartender reached back for another bottle of Irish and refilled the glasses for a third time.

Ewaldt beamed. "In my country," he said, "we drink not to the country, but to all the pretty girls. Now I have drunk with you to your country, and you are drinking with me to all the pretty girls in Denmark. Skaall"

His third glass of Irish followed the course of the other two with the same easy, fluid motion. McClintock again took a little more time. There was a slight frown in the middle of his forehead, and he appeared to be considering something quite seriously.

"It was the prison chaplain, God bless his soul," he said. "He explained to me that the gains from the profession of crime were b'no means equal to the effort expended. He made me see, he told me that . . ." He turned halfway round and emitted a large burp.

Patrolman Cohan gazed earnestly at him, then turned toward the others and began talking rapidly: "Did I ever tell you now, about the time I found me own wife in the paddy wagon, and her mad enough to have the left leg of me, and saying it was all my fault? It was—" He laid a hand on McClintock's shoulder, but Dippie Louie shook it off.

"I'm okay," he said. "Fill them up again."

"You are not to be drinking so fast," said Ewaldt evenly. "That is how a man is—how do you say it?—be-drunken, unless he is Danish."

"I tell you I'm all right," said McClintock, "and I know how fast I can put it away. Fill them up again, Mr. Cohan."

Mr. Cohan obliged. The last drops came out of the second bottle of Irish as he was filling the glasses, and he had to open a third one.

Professor Thott said: "As a matter of fact, there's something in what the Captain says, though not quite for that reason. It's a question of liquefaction, of the body not being able to absorb any more liquid in any form. Fix me another Manhattan, will you, Mr. Cohan?"

"A Manhattan?" said Ewaldt. "I am remembering them; they are good. You will please to make me one, also." He addressed McClintock with a pleasant smile. "This is not part of the contest, but an extra for pleasure. But you are correct, Mr. Professor; I shall relieve myself."

He started toward the toilet but was detained by a cry from McClintock: "Hey, no you don't! I seen that one pulled the time I drank against the three Stranahans in Chi."

"Why don't you both go?" said Thott, "with Patrolman Cohan to see there's no foul play. After all, he represents the law and can be trusted to be impartial."

As the trio disappeared through the door, he turned to Mr. Cohan: "I hate to say it, but I think your friend Dippie Louie is beginning to come apart along the seams."

"Don't you believe it, now," said Mr. Cohan. "No more than Finn MacCool did when he met the Scotch giant and his wife baked the stove lids in the cakes. That's just the way of him. Would you like to make a side bet now, that he won't have that Swede under the bar rail before he's done?"

"A dollar," said Thott, and they shook hands across the bar, as the three emerged to find the Manhattans and glasses of Irish lined up. Ewaldt disposed of his as rapidly as before, then picked up the Manhattan and began to sip it delicately. He turned to McClintock: "You are the very good drinker for an Irishman. I salute you, as you did. Hop, Eire!"

The Manhattan followed the whiskey. There seemed to be something slightly wrong with McClintock's throat as he accepted the toast. Patrolman Cohan took on an anxious look and Mr. Cohan an inquiring one, but Ewaldt merely indicated with a gesture that he wanted a refill on both glasses. McClintock gazed at his portion of whiskey with a kind of fearful fascination, swallowed once, and then began to sip it, with his Adam's apple moving rapidly. Ewaldt slid his down as before, and picked up the Manhattan. "These I pay for," he said.

McClintock said: "It was him that gave me the office, just like I'm telling you. I was in with a couple of right gees, too, jug-heisters, but . . . mark my words, friends, crime does not pay."

"I never thought I'd live to see the day," said Patrolman Cohan. "A bottle and a half apiece. Louie, you're a credit to the race."

"That is very true," said Ewaldt. "After the Danes, the Poles are the best drinkers. Now we shall change to something else, since you have been making the first choice. Mr. Cohan, you have the Russian vodka?"

"No' for me," said McClintock. "No' for me." He looked at Thott solemnly, blinked his eyes twice, and said, "You're right, Perfessor. Need time for shock effec'. Think I'll sh— sit down for a minute before the next round."

He took four or five long steps to one of the tables and sat down heavily, staring straight before him. Ewaldt, on whom no effect was visible beyond a slight reddening of the nose, said: "Now I have won and it is to pay me."

"Not yet," said Patrolman Cohan. "He isn't out, just resting between rounds. He'll come back." His voice seemed to lack conviction.

"It's the most marvelous thing I've ever seen," said Thott, looking at Ewaldt with an awe tinged with envy. "I wish I had your capacity; it would be useful at class reunions."

"Ah, it's not for me to speak," said Mr. Cohan, pouring the vodka, into an ordinary shot glass this time. "But the way I was brought up, it's not healthy to be mixing your liquor like that."

"Tell me, Captain," said Thott, "how do you do it? Is there a special course of training, or something?"

Ewaldt downed his vodka. "It is only because I am Danish. In my country no one is be-drunken except foolish young men who go down the Herregade and have their shoes shined on Saturday night while they make calls to the girls that pass, but I am too old for that. But some Danes are better drinkers than others. We have in Denmark a story that the best are those who have from their forefathers one of the aedelstanar—how do you say it?—amethysts. Observe."

His hand went to the watch chain and the end came out of his vest pocket. Instead of penknife, key ring, or other make-weight, the chain ended in a large purplish stone with an old-fashioned gold setting.

"In the olden times, six hundred years ago," Ewaldt continued, "there were many of them. They were the protection against be-drunkenhood, to place in the bottom of the wine cup, and most of them belonged to bishops, from which it is easy to see that the church is very sober."

Thott peered over the top of his glasses. "Interesting. It was a regular medieval idea; the word amethyst itself means antidrunkenness, you know. Did you get yours from a bishop?"

Ewaldt tucked his pocket piece away, and gave a little laugh. "No, this one is descended to me from Tycho Brahe, that was an astronomer and supposed to be a magician. But of course, it is all superstition, like his being a magician, and I do not believe it at all."

He turned to face McClintock, who had come back to the bar and was leaning one elbow on it as he stared at the stuffed owl. "How is it now, my friend? Shall we have one more little bit?"

"Gotta make thish score or I'm a creep," mumbled the collapsing champion of old Eire.

Patrolman Cohan looked at him sharply. "Now, listen, Louie," he said. "You ain't making scores—"

He was interrupted by a kind of strangled sound from Ewaldt, and the others turned to look at the Captain, who seemed in the throes of a revolution. A fine perspiration had broken out on his forehead, and the network of lines had run together into a kind of mottling. "Bevare!" he uttered as they watched, and one foot came up to feel for the bar rail. He missed it, and without its support, the leg seemed to have no more stiffness than a rubber band. Captain Ewaldt took a heavy list to starboard, clutched once at the edge of the bar, missed that too, and came down hard on the floor.

As Thott and Patrolman Cohan bent to pick him up, Dippie Louie McClintock suddenly gripped the arm of the latter.

"Julius!" he wailed, and Thott saw a big tear come out on his cheek. "You should have stopped me! You know that when I drink, I just can't resist the temptation! Don't tell anyone that I did it, will you, or I'll lose my job at the fish market and won't be able to give lectures on crime any more. Here, take it, and give it back to him."

He held out the amethyst, detached from its chain, thrust it into Patrolman Cohan's hand, then in his turn swayed, missed a grab at the bar, and joined Ewaldt on the floor.

"I get a dollar," said Mr. Cohan. "The Swede is under the bar rail."

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