"Here's to two boys of the Mersey, then."
"You are from Liverpool as well?"
"Oh, thereabouts," he said vaguely. "More up Yorkshire way." His eyes rested on Carrier with sudden seriousness. "Didn't see you back there. Stupid place to meet, actually. Chock full of junk, like my Auntie's attic. Took me twenty minutes to find the room he meant." He took a swallow of his ale without removing his gaze. His hand engulfed the bottle. When he set it back down, it was empty. "Good drink," he said irrelevantly, still staring.
"Who's the mark?" Carrier asked.
"What you want to know for?"
"Make it a better story to tell the Inspector."
"Does it now?"
There was just the possibility Egan was stupid enough to attack him in public, but Carrier thought not. For all his look of a village tout who had got lost on his way to the racetrack, there was intelligence lurking behind those tiny eyes. Egan held up his bottle and tinkled it as if it were a bell. Carrier noted a band on his finger, not some fine metal but a thick ring of common steel.
"A brotherhood me and some others belong to," Egan said, spotting his interest. Lily had come over. "Rather like the Merry Men of Nottingham Forest, or the Levellers of years past. Give us another, love."
"And you, Mister Ca, ?"
"No!" Carrier cut her off before she could say his name.
"Tell the Inspector," Egan chuckled. "You got courage, you have, and precious little else, I'd wager, save those clothes on your back."
"You've seen me all right," Carrier said, pretending to be impressed. "I'm on my uppers, and that is God's truth."
"You and all of Stepney, Jack Pierce. Times is tough. And what do the men on top say? 'Pass the port,' they say. And, 'Do try the plovers eggs.' So if we catch one of'em with his hand in the honeypot, well what of it? Redistribution of the wealth, I say."
"None has been redistributed to me," Carrier protested. "It must be worth something, not having the word get out."
The second bottle went the way of the first. Egan released his breath with a quenched sigh.