10. The Gambling Debt
There was no time to be lost now. Down the steps again dashed Garrick, after
our expected failure both to get in peaceably and to pass the ice-box door by
force. This time Dillon emerged from the cab with him. Together they were
carrying the heavy apparatus up the steps.
They set it down close to the door and I scrutinized it carefully. It looked, at first
sight, like a short stubby piece of iron, about eighteen inches high. It must have
weighed fifty or sixty pounds. Along one side was a handle, and on the opposite
side an adjustable hook with a sharp, wide prong.
Garrick bent down and managed to wedge the hook into the little space between
the sill and the bottom of the ice-box door. Then he began pumping on the
handle, up and down, up and down, as hard as he could.
Meanwhile the crowd that had begun to collect was getting larger. Dillon went
through the form of calling on them for aid, but the call was met with laughter. A
Tenderloin crowd has no use for raids, except as a spectacle. Between us we
held them back, while Garrick worked. The crowd jeered.
It was the work of only a few seconds, however, before Garrick changed the
jeers to a hearty round of exclamations of surprise. The door seemed to be lifted
up, literally, until some of its bolts and hinges actually bulged and cracked. It was
being crushed, like the flimsy outside door, before the unwonted attack.
Upwards, by fractions of an inch, by millimeters, the door was being forced.
There was such straining and stress of materials that I really began to wonder
whether the building itself would stand it.