The Mott Street Poker Club
Finnegan the Avenger
He Acts as Judge, Jury, Assignee and Executioner
WHEN the party was going down the court-house steps Finnegan, the roundsman, under whose guardianship the Club section
of Mott Street was, happened to be making the same journey, in the performance of some detail of his duty. He acknowledged his acquaintanceship
with Mr. Lee-Tip with a condescending nod, and his eye happened to light upon the nickel disk which each member of the Club wore proudly
suspended from his neck, as a species of badge of honor.
“Hello, Chinay,” said Finnegan, “what have yez there?”
“Him license,” replied Mr. Lee-Tip.
“A license!” repeated Mr. Finnegan; “fwhat for a license?”
“License to play polkel,” answered Mr. Lee-Tip.
“A license to play poker, is it?” gasped Mr. Finnegan; “faith, yer moighty particular, so ye are.
It lucks more like a license to pay five cints for a glass of beer. Where did yez get it?”
“Me buyee him,” replied Mr. Lee-Tip, with properly solvent dignity.
“Oho!” whistled Finnegan, “is it there ye are, Moriarty! and who did yez buy it from?”
“Buyee him flora pleeceman.”
“Luck here, Chinay,” said Finnegan, sternly, “what d’ye mane by that?”
And he touched his club with a hand whose expressiveness was not rendered less eloquent by the fact that it was nearly
as large as a Cincinnati ham.
Mr. Lee-Tip, by dint of the exercise of all his English and a good deal of inference on the roundsman’s part,
managed to explain. Finnegan heard him with a constantly-expanding smile, and remarked when he finished, “Well, ye poor Chinay!
ye wor bate. I thought Chinase was smart, but I see yez are only cunning. Now lave me give yez a tip. Whinever ye see that chap agin,
pint him out to me, an’ by the mother av’ Moses—”
They had reached a street-corner, and a bar-room had just opened to permit the emergence of a red-nosed man with a
moustache that looked as if it had been gnawed by rats. He was accompanied by a stout German in a dirty bar-apron to whom he said:
“I’ll fix it for you, Dutchy; I’m the Mayor’s private secretary, and you’ll have your
license back inside of two days, or—”
Mr. Lee-Tip gave passage to a howl of recognition, which was echoed by Mr. Hop-Sam, Mr. Hong-Lung and Mr. Gin-Sing.
Finnegan, the roundsman, opened his eyes and asked:
“Hav yez rats, Chinay?”
“Him sellee license,” returned Mr. Lee-Tip, stabbing his right forefinger at the red-nosed man.
“Begobs!” ejaculated Finnegan; “is he the chap?”
The red-nosed man would have vanished around the corner if he could, but Finnegan’s hand was on his collar, and
five bright, new silver dollars were shaken from his venal grasp at the first grip.
“Collar the plunks, Chinay,” shouted Finnegan, “and hould them for me. Ah! me bucco, so I have ye
What was left of the red-nosed man was removed to the station-house on a banana-vender’s barrow, and the club
at its next meeting voted Finnegan, the roundsman, its thanks, and put him on the free-list for his washing.
“They’re not a bad lot, them Chinays,” said Finnegan to himself, as lie emerged from the club-room
next day, counting over five bright, new silver dollars in his palm. “But they have not much sinse; av they had they’d have
made me whack up or have reported me at headquarters.”
And he dropped his argentiferous prize into his pocket and went briskly across the way to arrest a drunken Italian,
who was sleeping in a doorway, for disorderly conduct and disturbance of the peace.