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Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens

Part 4 out of 21

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and they almost carry themselves like customers. Nor is there
compensating influence in the adorable bridesmaids; for, having
very little interest in the bride, and none at all in one another, those
lovely beings become, each one of her own account, depreciatingly
contemplative of the millinery present; while the bridegroom's
man, exhausted, in the back of his chair, appears to be improving
the occasion by penitentially contemplating all the wrong he has
ever done; the difference between him and his friend Eugene,
being, that the latter, in the back of HIS chair, appears to be
contemplating all the wrong he would like to do--particularly to the
present company.

In which state of affairs, the usual ceremonies rather droop and
flag, and the splendid cake when cut by the fair hand of the bride
has but an indigestible appearance. However, all the things
indispensable to be said are said, and all the things indispensable
to be done are done (including Lady Tippins's yawning, falling
asleep, and waking insensible), and there is hurried preparation for
the nuptial journey to the Isle of Wight, and the outer air teems
with brass bands and spectators. In full sight of whom, the
malignant star of the Analytical has pre-ordained that pain and
ridicule shall befall him. For he, standing on the doorsteps to
grace the departure, is suddenly caught a most prodigious thump
on the side of his head with a heavy shoe, which a Buffer in the
hall, champagne-flushed and wild of aim, has borrowed on the
spur of the moment from the pastrycook's porter, to cast after the
departing pair as an auspicious omen.

So they all go up again into the gorgeous drawing-rooms--all of
them flushed with breakfast, as having taken scarlatina sociably--
and there the combined unknowns do malignant things with their
legs to ottomans, and take as much as possible out of the splendid
furniture. And so, Lady Tippins, quite undetermined whether
today is the day before yesterday, or the day after to-morrow, or the
week after next, fades away; and Mortimer Lightwood and Eugene
fade away, and Twemlow fades away, and the stoney aunt goes
away--she declines to fade, proving rock to the last--and even the
unknowns are slowly strained off, and it is all over.

All over, that is to say, for the time being. But, there is another
time to come, and it comes in about a fortnight, and it comes to Mr
and Mrs Lammle on the sands at Shanklin, in the Isle of Wight.

Mr and Mrs Lammle have walked for some time on the Shanklin
sands, and one may see by their footprints that they have not
walked arm in arm, and that they have not walked in a straight
track, and that they have walked in a moody humour; for, the lady
has prodded little spirting holes in the damp sand before her with
her parasol, and the gentleman has trailed his stick after him. As if
he were of the Mephistopheles family indeed, and had walked with
a drooping tail.

'Do you mean to tell me, then, Sophronia--'

Thus he begins after a long silence, when Sophronia flashes
fiercely, and turns upon him.

'Don't put it upon ME, sir. I ask you, do YOU mean to tell me?'

Mr Lammle falls silent again, and they walk as before. Mrs
Lammle opens her nostrils and bites her under-lip; Mr Lammle
takes his gingerous whiskers in his left hand, and, bringing them
together, frowns furtively at his beloved, out of a thick gingerous

'Do I mean to say!' Mrs Lammle after a time repeats, with
indignation. 'Putting it on me! The unmanly disingenuousness!'

Mr Lammle stops, releases his whiskers, and looks at her. 'The

Mrs Lammle haughtily replies, without stopping, and without
looking back. 'The meanness.'

He is at her side again in a pace or two, and he retorts, 'That is not
what you said. You said disingenuousness.'

'What if I did?'

'There is no "if" in the case. You did.'

'I did, then. And what of it?'

'What of it?' says Mr Lammle. 'Have you the face to utter the word
to me?'

'The face, too!' replied Mrs Lammle, staring at him with cold
scorn. 'Pray, how dare you, sir, utter the word to me?'

'I never did.'

As this happens to be true, Mrs Lammle is thrown on the feminine
resource of saying, 'I don't care what you uttered or did not utter.'

After a little more walking and a little more silence, Mr Lammle
breaks the latter.

'You shall proceed in your own way. You claim a right to ask me
do I mean to tell you. Do I mean to tell you what?'

'That you are a man of property?'


'Then you married me on false pretences?'

'So be it. Next comes what you mean to say. Do you mean to say
you are a woman of property?'


'Then you married me on false pretences.'

'If you were so dull a fortune-hunter that you deceived yourself, or
if you were so greedy and grasping that you were over-willing to
be deceived by appearances, is it my fault, you adventurer?' the
lady demands, with great asperity.

'I asked Veneering, and he told me you were rich.'

'Veneering!' with great contempt.' And what does Veneering know
about me!'

'Was he not your trustee?'

'No. I have no trustee, but the one you saw on the day when you
fraudulently married me. And his trust is not a very difficult one,
for it is only an annuity of a hundred and fifteen pounds. I think
there are some odd shillings or pence, if you are very particular.'

Mr Lammle bestows a by no means loving look upon the partner of
his joys and sorrows, and he mutters something; but checks

'Question for question. It is my turn again, Mrs Lammle. What
made you suppose me a man of property?'

'You made me suppose you so. Perhaps you will deny that you
always presented yourself to me in that character?'

'But you asked somebody, too. Come, Mrs Lammle, admission for
admission. You asked somebody?'

'I asked Veneering.'

'And Veneering knew as much of me as he knew of you, or as
anybody knows of him.'

After more silent walking, the bride stops short, to say in a
passionate manner:

'I never will forgive the Veneerings for this!'

'Neither will I,' returns the bridegroom.

With that, they walk again; she, making those angry spirts in the
sand; he, dragging that dejected tail. The tide is low, and seems to
have thrown them together high on the bare shore. A gull comes
sweeping by their heads and flouts them. There was a golden
surface on the brown cliffs but now, and behold they are only damp
earth. A taunting roar comes from the sea, and the far-out rollers
mount upon one another, to look at the entrapped impostors, and to
join in impish and exultant gambols.

'Do you pretend to believe,' Mrs Lammle resumes, sternly, 'when
you talk of my marrying you for worldly advantages, that it was
within the bounds of reasonable probability that I would have
married you for yourself?'

'Again there are two sides to the question, Mrs Lammle. What do
you pretend to believe?'

'So you first deceive me and then insult me!' cries the lady, with a
heaving bosom.

'Not at all. I have originated nothing. The double-edged question
was yours.'

'Was mine!' the bride repeats, and her parasol breaks in her angry

His colour has turned to a livid white, and ominous marks have
come to light about his nose, as if the finger of the very devil
himself had, within the last few moments, touched it here and
there. But he has repressive power, and she has none.

'Throw it away,' he coolly recommends as to the parasol; 'you have
made it useless; you look ridiculous with it.'

Whereupon she calls him in her rage, 'A deliberate villain,' and so
casts the broken thing from her as that it strikes him in falling.
The finger-marks are something whiter for the instant, but he
walks on at her side.

She bursts into tears, declaring herself the wretchedest, the most
deceived, the worst-used, of women. Then she says that if she had
the courage to kill herself, she would do it. Then she calls him vile
impostor. Then she asks him, why, in the disappointment of his
base speculation, he does not take her life with his own hand,
under the present favourable circumstances. Then she cries again.
Then she is enraged again, and makes some mention of swindlers.
Finally, she sits down crying on a block of stone, and is in all the
known and unknown humours of her sex at once. Pending her
changes, those aforesaid marks in his face have come and gone,
now here now there, like white steps of a pipe on which the
diabolical performer has played a tune. Also his livid lips are
parted at last, as if he were breathless with running. Yet he is not.

'Now, get up, Mrs Lammle, and let us speak reasonably.'

She sits upon her stone, and takes no heed of him.

'Get up, I tell you.'

Raising her head, she looks contemptuously in his face, and
repeats, 'You tell me! Tell me, forsooth!'

She affects not to know that his eyes are fastened on her as she
droops her head again; but her whole figure reveals that she knows
it uneasily.

'Enough of this. Come! Do you hear? Get up.'

Yielding to his hand, she rises, and they walk again; but this time
with their faces turned towards their place of residence.

'Mrs Lammle, we have both been deceiving, and we have both
been deceived. We have both been biting, and we have both been
bitten. In a nut-shell, there's the state of the case.'

'You sought me out--'

'Tut! Let us have done with that. WE know very well how it was.
Why should you and I talk about it, when you and I can't disguise
it? To proceed. I am disappointed and cut a poor figure.'

'Am I no one?'

'Some one--and I was coming to you, if you had waited a moment.
You, too, are disappointed and cut a poor figure.'

'An injured figure!'

'You are now cool enough, Sophronia, to see that you can't be
injured without my being equally injured; and that therefore the
mere word is not to the purpose. When I look back, I wonder how
I can have been such a fool as to take you to so great an extent
upon trust.'

'And when I look back--' the bride cries, interrupting.

'And when you look back, you wonder how you can have been--
you'll excuse the word?'

'Most certainly, with so much reason.

'--Such a fool as to take ME to so great an extent upon trust. But
the folly is committed on both sides. I cannot get rid of you; you
cannot get rid of me. What follows?'

'Shame and misery,' the bride bitterly replies.

'I don't know. A mutual understanding follows, and I think it may
carry us through. Here I split my discourse (give me your arm,
Sophronia), into three heads, to make it shorter and plainer.
Firstly, it's enough to have been done, without the mortification of
being known to have been done. So we agree to keep the fact to
ourselves. You agree?'

'If it is possible, I do.'

'Possible! We have pretended well enough to one another. Can't
we, united, pretend to the world? Agreed. Secondly, we owe the
Veneerings a grudge, and we owe all other people the grudge of
wishing them to be taken in, as we ourselves have been taken in.

'Yes. Agreed.'

'We come smoothly to thirdly. You have called me an adventurer,
Sophronia. So I am. In plain uncomplimentary English, so I am.
So are you, my dear. So are many people. We agree to keep our
own secret, and to work together in furtherance of our own

'What schemes?'

'Any scheme that will bring us money. By our own schemes, I
mean our joint interest. Agreed?'

She answers, after a little hesitation, 'I suppose so. Agreed.'

'Carried at once, you see! Now, Sophronia, only half a dozen
words more. We know one another perfectly. Don't be tempted
into twitting me with the past knowledge that you have of me,
because it is identical with the past knowledge that I have of you,
and in twitting me, you twit yourself, and I don't want to hear you
do it. With this good understanding established between us, it is
better never done. To wind up all:--You have shown temper today,
Sophronia. Don't be betrayed into doing so again, because I have a
Devil of a temper myself.'

So, the happy pair, with this hopeful marriage contract thus signed,
sealed, and delivered, repair homeward. If, when those infernal
finger-marks were on the white and breathless countenance of
Alfred Lammle, Esquire, they denoted that he conceived the
purpose of subduing his dear wife Mrs Alfred Lammle, by at once
divesting her of any lingering reality or pretence of self-respect,
the purpose would seem to have been presently executed. The
mature young lady has mighty little need of powder, now, for her
downcast face, as he escorts her in the light of the setting sun to
their abode of bliss.

Chapter 11


Mr Podsnap was well to do, and stood very high in Mr Podsnap's
opinion. Beginning with a good inheritance, he had married a
good inheritance, and had thriven exceedingly in the Marine
Insurance way, and was quite satisfied. He never could make out
why everybody was not quite satisfied, and he felt conscious that
he set a brilliant social example in being particularly well satisfied
with most things, and, above all other things, with himself.

Thus happily acquainted with his own merit and importance, Mr
Podsnap settled that whatever he put behind him he put out of
existence. There was a dignified conclusiveness--not to add a
grand convenience--in this way of getting rid of disagreeables
which had done much towards establishing Mr Podsnap in his
lofty place in Mr Podsnap's satisfaction. 'I don't want to know
about it; I don't choose to discuss it; I don't admit it!' Mr Podsnap
had even acquired a peculiar flourish of his right arm in often
clearing the world of its most difficult problems, by sweeping them
behind him (and consequently sheer away) with those words and a
flushed face. For they affronted him.

Mr Podsnap's world was not a very large world, morally; no, nor
even geographically: seeing that although his business was
sustained upon commerce with other countries, he considered other
countries, with that important reservation, a mistake, and of their
manners and customs would conclusively observe, 'Not English!'
when, PRESTO! with a flourish of the arm, and a flush of the face,
they were swept away. Elsewhere, the world got up at eight,
shaved close at a quarter-past, breakfasted at nine, went to the City
at ten, came home at half-past five, and dined at seven. Mr
Podsnap's notions of the Arts in their integrity might have been
stated thus. Literature; large print, respectfully descriptive of
getting up at eight, shaving close at a quarter past, breakfasting at
nine, going to the City at ten, coming home at half-past five, and
dining at seven. Painting and Sculpture; models and portraits
representing Professors of getting up at eight, shaving close at a
quarter past, breakfasting at nine, going to the City at ten, coming
home at half-past five, and dining at seven. Music; a respectable
performance (without variations) on stringed and wind
instruments, sedately expressive of getting up at eight, shaving
close at a quarter past, breakfasting at nine, going to the City at
ten, coming home at half-past five, and dining at seven. Nothing
else to be permitted to those same vagrants the Arts, on pain of
excommunication. Nothing else To Be--anywhere!

As a so eminently respectable man, Mr Podsnap was sensible of its
being required of him to take Providence under his protection.
Consequently he always knew exactly what Providence meant.
Inferior and less respectable men might fall short of that mark, but
Mr Podsnap was always up to it. And it was very remarkable (and
must have been very comfortable) that what Providence meant,
was invariably what Mr Podsnap meant.

These may be said to have been the articles of a faith and school
which the present chapter takes the liberty of calling, after its
representative man, Podsnappery. They were confined within close
bounds, as Mr Podsnap's own head was confined by his shirt-
collar; and they were enunciated with a sounding pomp that
smacked of the creaking of Mr Podsnap's own boots.

There was a Miss Podsnap. And this young rocking-horse was
being trained in her mother's art of prancing in a stately manner
without ever getting on. But the high parental action was not yet
imparted to her, and in truth she was but an undersized damsel,
with high shoulders, low spirits, chilled elbows, and a rasped
surface of nose, who seemed to take occasional frosty peeps out of
childhood into womanhood, and to shrink back again, overcome by
her mother's head-dress and her father from head to foot--crushed
by the mere dead-weight of Podsnappery.

A certain institution in Mr Podsnap's mind which he called 'the
young person' may be considered to have been embodied in Miss
Podsnap, his daughter. It was an inconvenient and exacting
institution, as requiring everything in the universe to be filed down
and fitted to it. The question about everything was, would it bring
a blush into the cheek of the young person? And the inconvenience
of the young person was, that, according to Mr Podsnap, she
seemed always liable to burst into blushes when there was no need
at all. There appeared to be no line of demarcation between the
young person's excessive innocence, and another person's guiltiest
knowledge. Take Mr Podsnap's word for it, and the soberest tints
of drab, white, lilac, and grey, were all flaming red to this
troublesome Bull of a young person.

The Podsnaps lived in a shady angle adjoining Portman Square.
They were a kind of people certain to dwell in the shade, wherever
they dwelt. Miss Podsnap's life had been, from her first
appearance on this planet, altogether of a shady order; for, Mr
Podsnap's young person was likely to get little good out of
association with other young persons, and had therefore been
restricted to companionship with not very congenial older persons,
and with massive furniture. Miss Podsnap's early views of life
being principally derived from the reflections of it in her father's
boots, and in the walnut and rosewood tables of the dim drawing-
rooms, and in their swarthy giants of looking-glasses, were of a
sombre cast; and it was not wonderful that now, when she was on
most days solemnly tooled through the Park by the side of her
mother in a great tall custard-coloured phaeton, she showed above
the apron of that vehicle like a dejected young person sitting up in
bed to take a startled look at things in general, and very strongly
desiring to get her head under the counterpane again.

Said Mr Podsnap to Mrs Podsnap, 'Georgiana is almost eighteen.'

Said Mrs Podsnap to Mr Podsnap, assenting, 'Almost eighteen.'

Said Mr Podsnap then to Mrs Podsnap, 'Really I think we should
have some people on Georgiana's birthday.'

Said Mrs Podsnap then to Mr Podsnap, 'Which will enable us to
clear off all those people who are due.'

So it came to pass that Mr and Mrs Podsnap requested the honour
of the company of seventeen friends of their souls at dinner; and
that they substituted other friends of their souls for such of the
seventeen original friends of their souls as deeply regretted that a
prior engagement prevented their having the honour of dining with
Mr and Mrs Podsnap, in pursuance of their kind invitation; and
that Mrs Podsnap said of all these inconsolable personages, as she
checked them off with a pencil in her list, 'Asked, at any rate, and
got rid of;' and that they successfully disposed of a good many
friends of their souls in this way, and felt their consciences much

There were still other friends of their souls who were not entitled to
be asked to dinner, but had a claim to be invited to come and take
a haunch of mutton vapour-bath at half-past nine. For the clearing
off of these worthies, Mrs Podsnap added a small and early
evening to the dinner, and looked in at the music-shop to bespeak a
well-conducted automaton to come and play quadrilles for a carpet

Mr and Mrs Veneering, and Mr and Mrs Veneering's bran-new
bride and bridegroom, were of the dinner company; but the
Podsnap establishment had nothing else in common with the
Veneerings. Mr Podsnap could tolerate taste in a mushroom man
who stood in need of that sort of thing, but was far above it
himself. Hideous solidity was the characteristic of the Podsnap
plate. Everything was made to look as heavy as it could, and to
take up as much room as possible. Everything said boastfully,
'Here you have as much of me in my ugliness as if I were only
lead; but I am so many ounces of precious metal worth so much an
ounce;--wouldn't you like to melt me down?' A corpulent
straddling epergne, blotched all over as if it had broken out in an
eruption rather than been ornamented, delivered this address from
an unsightly silver platform in the centre of the table. Four silver
wine-coolers, each furnished with four staring heads, each head
obtrusively carrying a big silver ring in each of its ears, conveyed
the sentiment up and down the table, and handed it on to the pot-
bellied silver salt-cellars. All the big silver spoons and forks
widened the mouths of the company expressly for the purpose of
thrusting the sentiment down their throats with every morsel they

The majority of the guests were like the plate, and included several
heavy articles weighing ever so much. But there was a foreign
gentleman among them: whom Mr Podsnap had invited after much
debate with himself--believing the whole European continent to be
in mortal alliance against the young person--and there was a droll
disposition, not only on the part of Mr Podsnap but of everybody
else, to treat him as if he were a child who was hard of hearing.

As a delicate concession to this unfortunately-born foreigner, Mr
Podsnap, in receiving him, had presented his wife as 'Madame
Podsnap;' also his daughter as 'Mademoiselle Podsnap,' with some
inclination to add 'ma fille,' in which bold venture, however, he
checked himself. The Veneerings being at that time the only other
arrivals, he had added (in a condescendingly explanatory manner),
'Monsieur Vey-nair-reeng,' and had then subsided into English.

'How Do You Like London?' Mr Podsnap now inquired from his
station of host, as if he were administering something in the nature
of a powder or potion to the deaf child; 'London, Londres, London?'

The foreign gentleman admired it.

'You find it Very Large?' said Mr Podsnap, spaciously.

The foreign gentleman found it very large.

'And Very Rich?'

The foreign gentleman found it, without doubt, enormement riche.

'Enormously Rich, We say,' returned Mr Podsnap, in a
condescending manner. 'Our English adverbs do Not terminate in
Mong, and We Pronounce the "ch" as if there were a "t" before it.
We say Ritch.'

'Reetch,' remarked the foreign gentleman.

'And Do You Find, Sir,' pursued Mr Podsnap, with dignity, 'Many
Evidences that Strike You, of our British Constitution in the
Streets Of The World's Metropolis, London, Londres, London?'

The foreign gentleman begged to be pardoned, but did not
altogether understand.

'The Constitution Britannique,' Mr Podsnap explained, as if he
were teaching in an infant school.' We Say British, But You Say
Britannique, You Know' (forgivingly, as if that were not his fault).
'The Constitution, Sir.'

The foreign gentleman said, 'Mais, yees; I know eem.'

A youngish sallowish gentleman in spectacles, with a lumpy
forehead, seated in a supplementary chair at a corner of the table,
here caused a profound sensation by saying, in a raised voice,
'ESKER,' and then stopping dead.

'Mais oui,' said the foreign gentleman, turning towards him. 'Est-ce
que? Quoi donc?'

But the gentleman with the lumpy forehead having for the time
delivered himself of all that he found behind his lumps, spake for
the time no more.

'I Was Inquiring,' said Mr Podsnap, resuming the thread of his
discourse, 'Whether You Have Observed in our Streets as We
should say, Upon our Pavvy as You would say, any Tokens--'

The foreign gentleman, with patient courtesy entreated pardon;
'But what was tokenz?'

'Marks,' said Mr Podsnap; 'Signs, you know, Appearances--

'Ah! Of a Orse?' inquired the foreign gentleman.

'We call it Horse,' said Mr Podsnap, with forbearance. 'In
England, Angleterre, England, We Aspirate the "H," and We Say
"Horse." Only our Lower Classes Say "Orse!"'

'Pardon,' said the foreign gentleman; 'I am alwiz wrong!'

'Our Language,' said Mr Podsnap, with a gracious consciousness
of being always right, 'is Difficult. Ours is a Copious Language,
and Trying to Strangers. I will not Pursue my Question.'

But the lumpy gentleman, unwilling to give it up, again madly
said, 'ESKER,' and again spake no more.

'It merely referred,' Mr Podsnap explained, with a sense of
meritorious proprietorship, 'to Our Constitution, Sir. We
Englishmen are Very Proud of our Constitution, Sir. It Was
Bestowed Upon Us By Providence. No Other Country is so
Favoured as This Country.'

'And ozer countries?--' the foreign gentleman was beginning, when
Mr Podsnap put him right again.

'We do not say Ozer; we say Other: the letters are "T" and "H;"
You say Tay and Aish, You Know; (still with clemency). The
sound is "th"--"th!"'

'And OTHER countries,' said the foreign gentleman. 'They do

'They do, Sir,' returned Mr Podsnap, gravely shaking his head;
'they do--I am sorry to be obliged to say it--AS they do.'

'It was a little particular of Providence,' said the foreign gentleman,
laughing; 'for the frontier is not large.'

'Undoubtedly,' assented Mr Podsnap; 'But So it is. It was the
Charter of the Land. This Island was Blest, Sir, to the Direct
Exclusion of such Other Countries as--as there may happen to be.
And if we were all Englishmen present, I would say,' added Mr
Podsnap, looking round upon his compatriots, and sounding
solemnly with his theme, 'that there is in the Englishman a
combination of qualities, a modesty, an independence, a
responsibility, a repose, combined with an absence of everything
calculated to call a blush into the cheek of a young person, which
one would seek in vain among the Nations of the Earth.'

Having delivered this little summary, Mr Podsnap's face flushed,
as he thought of the remote possibility of its being at all qualified
by any prejudiced citizen of any other country; and, with his
favourite right-arm flourish, he put the rest of Europe and the
whole of Asia, Africa, and America nowhere.

The audience were much edified by this passage of words; and Mr
Podsnap, feeling that he was in rather remarkable force to-day,
became smiling and conversational.

'Has anything more been heard, Veneering,' he inquired, 'of the
lucky legatee?'

'Nothing more,' returned Veneering, 'than that he has come into
possession of the property. I am told people now call him The
Golden Dustman. I mentioned to you some time ago, I think, that
the young lady whose intended husband was murdered is daughter
to a clerk of mine?'

'Yes, you told me that,' said Podsnap; 'and by-the-bye, I wish you
would tell it again here, for it's a curious coincidence--curious that
the first news of the discovery should have been brought straight to
your table (when I was there), and curious that one of your people
should have been so nearly interested in it. Just relate that, will

Veneering was more than ready to do it, for he had prospered
exceedingly upon the Harmon Murder, and had turned the social
distinction it conferred upon him to the account of making several
dozen of bran-new bosom-friends. Indeed, such another lucky hit
would almost have set him up in that way to his satisfaction. So,
addressing himself to the most desirable of his neighbours, while
Mrs Veneering secured the next most desirable, he plunged into
the case, and emerged from it twenty minutes afterwards with a
Bank Director in his arms. In the mean time, Mrs Veneering had
dived into the same waters for a wealthy Ship-Broker, and had
brought him up, safe and sound, by the hair. Then Mrs Veneering
had to relate, to a larger circle, how she had been to see the girl,
and how she was really pretty, and (considering her station)
presentable. And this she did with such a successful display of her
eight aquiline fingers and their encircling jewels, that she happily
laid hold of a drifting General Officer, his wife and daughter, and
not only restored their animation which had become suspended,
but made them lively friends within an hour.

Although Mr Podsnap would in a general way have highly
disapproved of Bodies in rivers as ineligible topics with reference
to the cheek of the young person, he had, as one may say, a share
in this affair which made him a part proprietor. As its returns were
immediate, too, in the way of restraining the company from
speechless contemplation of the wine-coolers, it paid, and he was

And now the haunch of mutton vapour-bath having received a
gamey infusion, and a few last touches of sweets and coffee, was
quite ready, and the bathers came; but not before the discreet
automaton had got behind the bars of the piano music-desk, and
there presented the appearance of a captive languishing in a rose-
wood jail. And who now so pleasant or so well assorted as Mr and
Mrs Alfred Lammle, he all sparkle, she all gracious contentment,
both at occasional intervals exchanging looks like partners at cards
who played a game against All England.

There was not much youth among the bathers, but there was no
youth (the young person always excepted) in the articles of
Podsnappery. Bald bathers folded their arms and talked to Mr
Podsnap on the hearthrug; sleek-whiskered bathers, with hats in
their hands, lunged at Mrs Podsnap and retreated; prowling
bathers, went about looking into ornamental boxes and bowls as if
they had suspicions of larceny on the part of the Podsnaps, and
expected to find something they had lost at the bottom; bathers of
the gentler sex sat silently comparing ivory shoulders. All this
time and always, poor little Miss Podsnap, whose tiny efforts (if
she had made any) were swallowed up in the magnificence of her
mother's rocking, kept herself as much out of sight and mind as
she could, and appeared to be counting on many dismal returns of
the day. It was somehow understood, as a secret article in the state
proprieties of Podsnappery that nothing must be said about the day.
Consequently this young damsel's nativity was hushed up and
looked over, as if it were agreed on all hands that it would have
been better that she had never been born.

The Lammles were so fond of the dear Veneerings that they could
not for some time detach themselves from those excellent friends;
but at length, either a very open smile on Mr Lammle's part, or a
very secret elevation of one of his gingerous eyebrows--certainly
the one or the other--seemed to say to Mrs Lammle, 'Why don't you
play?' And so, looking about her, she saw Miss Podsnap, and
seeming to say responsively, 'That card?' and to be answered, 'Yes,'
went and sat beside Miss Podsnap.

Mrs Lammle was overjoyed to escape into a corner for a little quiet

It promised to be a very quiet talk, for Miss Podsnap replied in a
flutter, 'Oh! Indeed, it's very kind of you, but I am afraid I DON'T

'Let us make a beginning,' said the insinuating Mrs Lammle, with
her best smile.

'Oh! I am afraid you'll find me very dull. But Ma talks!'

That was plainly to be seen, for Ma was talking then at her usual
canter, with arched head and mane, opened eyes and nostrils.

'Fond of reading perhaps?'

'Yes. At least I--don't mind that so much,' returned Miss Podsnap.

'M-m-m-m-music. So insinuating was Mrs Lammle that she got
half a dozen ms into the word before she got it out.

'I haven't nerve to play even if I could. Ma plays.'

(At exactly the same canter, and with a certain flourishing
appearance of doing something, Ma did, in fact, occasionally take
a rock upon the instrument.)

'Of course you like dancing?'

'Oh no, I don't,' said Miss Podsnap.

'No? With your youth and attractions? Truly, my dear, you
surprise me!'

'I can't say,' observed Miss Podsnap, after hesitating considerably,
and stealing several timid looks at Mrs Lammle's carefully
arranged face, 'how I might have liked it if I had been a--you won't
mention it, WILL you?'

'My dear! Never!'

'No, I am sure you won't. I can't say then how I should have liked
it, if I had been a chimney-sweep on May-day.'

'Gracious!' was the exclamation which amazement elicited from
Mrs Lammle.

'There! I knew you'd wonder. But you won't mention it, will you?'

'Upon my word, my love,' said Mrs Lammle, 'you make me ten
times more desirous, now I talk to you, to know you well than I
was when I sat over yonder looking at you. How I wish we could
be real friends! Try me as a real friend. Come! Don't fancy me a
frumpy old married woman, my dear; I was married but the other
day, you know; I am dressed as a bride now, you see. About the

'Hush! Ma'll hear.'

'She can't hear from where she sits.'

'Don't you be too sure of that,' said Miss Podsnap, in a lower voice.
'Well, what I mean is, that they seem to enjoy it.'

'And that perhaps you would have enjoyed it, if you had been one
of them?'

Miss Podsnap nodded significantly.

'Then you don't enjoy it now?'

'How is it possible?' said Miss Podsnap. 'Oh it is such a dreadful
thing! If I was wicked enough--and strong enough--to kill
anybody, it should be my partner.'

This was such an entirely new view of the Terpsichorean art as
socially practised, that Mrs Lammle looked at her young friend in
some astonishment. Her young friend sat nervously twiddling her
fingers in a pinioned attitude, as if she were trying to hide her
elbows. But this latter Utopian object (in short sleeves) always
appeared to be the great inoffensive aim of her existence.

'It sounds horrid, don't it?' said Miss Podsnap, with a penitential

Mrs Lammle, not very well knowing what to answer, resolved
herself into a look of smiling encouragement.

'But it is, and it always has been,' pursued Miss Podsnap, 'such a
trial to me! I so dread being awful. And it is so awful! No one
knows what I suffered at Madame Sauteuse's, where I learnt to
dance and make presentation-curtseys, and other dreadful things--
or at least where they tried to teach me. Ma can do it.'

'At any rate, my love,' said Mrs Lammle, soothingly, 'that's over.'

'Yes, it's over,' returned Miss Podsnap, 'but there's nothing gained
by that. It's worse here, than at Madame Sauteuse's. Ma was
there, and Ma's here; but Pa wasn't there, and company wasn't
there, and there were not real partners there. Oh there's Ma
speaking to the man at the piano! Oh there's Ma going up to
somebody! Oh I know she's going to bring him to me! Oh please
don't, please don't, please don't! Oh keep away, keep away, keep
away!' These pious ejaculations Miss Podsnap uttered with her
eyes closed, and her head leaning back against the wall.

But the Ogre advanced under the pilotage of Ma, and Ma said,
'Georgiana, Mr Grompus,' and the Ogre clutched his victim and
bore her off to his castle in the top couple. Then the discreet
automaton who had surveyed his ground, played a blossomless
tuneless 'set,' and sixteen disciples of Podsnappery went through
the figures of - 1, Getting up at eight and shaving close at a quarter
past - 2, Breakfasting at nine - 3, Going to the City at ten - 4,
Coming home at half-past five - 5, Dining at seven, and the grand

While these solemnities were in progress, Mr Alfred Lammle
(most loving of husbands) approached the chair of Mrs Alfred
Lammle (most loving of wives), and bending over the back of it,
trifled for some few seconds with Mrs Lammle's bracelet. Slightly
in contrast with this brief airy toying, one might have noticed a
certain dark attention in Mrs Lammle's face as she said some
words with her eyes on Mr Lammle's waistcoat, and seemed in
return to receive some lesson. But it was all done as a breath
passes from a mirror.

And now, the grand chain riveted to the last link, the discreet
automaton ceased, and the sixteen, two and two, took a walk
among the furniture. And herein the unconsciousness of the Ogre
Grompus was pleasantly conspicuous; for, that complacent
monster, believing that he was giving Miss Podsnap a treat,
prolonged to the utmost stretch of possibility a peripatetic account
of an archery meeting; while his victim, heading the procession of
sixteen as it slowly circled about, like a revolving funeral, never
raised her eyes except once to steal a glance at Mrs Lammle,
expressive of intense despair.

At length the procession was dissolved by the violent arrival of a
nutmeg, before which the drawing-room door bounced open as if it
were a cannon-ball; and while that fragrant article, dispersed
through several glasses of coloured warm water, was going the
round of society, Miss Podsnap returned to her seat by her new

'Oh my goodness,' said Miss Podsnap. 'THAT'S over! I hope you
didn't look at me.'

'My dear, why not?'

'Oh I know all about myself,' said Miss Podsnap.

'I'll tell you something I know about you, my dear,' returned Mrs
Lammle in her winning way, 'and that is, you are most
unnecessarily shy.'

'Ma ain't,' said Miss Podsnap. '--I detest you! Go along!' This
shot was levelled under her breath at the gallant Grompus for
bestowing an insinuating smile upon her in passing.

'Pardon me if I scarcely see, my dear Miss Podsnap,' Mrs Lammle
was beginning when the young lady interposed.

'If we are going to be real friends (and I suppose we are, for you
are the only person who ever proposed it) don't let us be awful. It's
awful enough to BE Miss Podsnap, without being called so. Call
me Georgiana.'

'Dearest Georgiana,' Mrs Lammle began again.

'Thank you,' said Miss Podsnap.

'Dearest Georgiana, pardon me if I scarcely see, my love, why your
mamma's not being shy, is a reason why you should be.'

'Don't you really see that?' asked Miss Podsnap, plucking at her
fingers in a troubled manner, and furtively casting her eyes now on
Mrs Lammle, now on the ground. 'Then perhaps it isn't?'

'My dearest Georgiana, you defer much too readily to my poor
opinion. Indeed it is not even an opinion, darling, for it is only a
confession of my dullness.'

'Oh YOU are not dull,' returned Miss Podsnap. 'I am dull, but you
couldn't have made me talk if you were.'

Some little touch of conscience answering this perception of her
having gained a purpose, called bloom enough into Mrs Lammle's
face to make it look brighter as she sat smiling her best smile on
her dear Georgiana, and shaking her head with an affectionate
playfulness. Not that it meant anything, but that Georgiana
seemed to like it.

'What I mean is,' pursued Georgiana, 'that Ma being so endowed
with awfulness, and Pa being so endowed with awfulness, and
there being so much awfulness everywhere--I mean, at least,
everywhere where I am--perhaps it makes me who am so deficient
in awfulness, and frightened at it--I say it very badly--I don't know
whether you can understand what I mean?'

'Perfectly, dearest Georgiana!' Mrs Lammle was proceeding with
every reassuring wile, when the head of that young lady suddenly
went back against the wall again and her eyes closed.

'Oh there's Ma being awful with somebody with a glass in his eye!
Oh I know she's going to bring him here! Oh don't bring him,
don't bring him! Oh he'll be my partner with his glass in his eye!
Oh what shall I do!' This time Georgiana accompanied her
ejaculations with taps of her feet upon the floor, and was altogether
in quite a desperate condition. But, there was no escape from the
majestic Mrs Podsnap's production of an ambling stranger, with
one eye screwed up into extinction and the other framed and
glazed, who, having looked down out of that organ, as if he
descried Miss Podsnap at the bottom of some perpendicular shaft,
brought her to the surface, and ambled off with her. And then the
captive at the piano played another 'set,' expressive of his mournful
aspirations after freedom, and other sixteen went through the
former melancholy motions, and the ambler took Miss Podsnap for
a furniture walk, as if he had struck out an entirely original

In the mean time a stray personage of a meek demeanour, who had
wandered to the hearthrug and got among the heads of tribes
assembled there in conference with Mr Podsnap, eliminated Mr
Podsnap's flush and flourish by a highly unpolite remark; no less
than a reference to the circumstance that some half-dozen people
had lately died in the streets, of starvation. It was clearly ill-timed
after dinner. It was not adapted to the cheek of the young person.
It was not in good taste.

'I don't believe it,' said Mr Podsnap, putting it behind him.

The meek man was afraid we must take it as proved, because there
were the Inquests and the Registrar's returns.

'Then it was their own fault,' said Mr Podsnap.

Veneering and other elders of tribes commended this way out of it.
At once a short cut and a broad road.

The man of meek demeanour intimated that truly it would seem
from the facts, as if starvation had been forced upon the culprits in
question--as if, in their wretched manner, they had made their
weak protests against it--as if they would have taken the liberty of
staving it off if they could--as if they would rather not have been
starved upon the whole, if perfectly agreeable to all parties.

'There is not,' said Mr Podsnap, flushing angrily, 'there is not a
country in the world, sir, where so noble a provision is made for
the poor as in this country.'

The meek man was quite willing to concede that, but perhaps it
rendered the matter even worse, as showing that there must be
something appallingly wrong somewhere.

'Where?' said Mr Podsnap.

The meek man hinted Wouldn't it be well to try, very seriously, to
find out where?

'Ah!' said Mr Podsnap. 'Easy to say somewhere; not so easy to say
where! But I see what you are driving at. I knew it from the first.
Centralization. No. Never with my consent. Not English.'

An approving murmur arose from the heads of tribes; as saying,
'There you have him! Hold him!'

He was not aware (the meek man submitted of himself) that he
was driving at any ization. He had no favourite ization that he
knew of. But he certainly was more staggered by these terrible
occurrences than he was by names, of howsoever so many
syllables. Might he ask, was dying of destitution and neglect
necessarily English?

'You know what the population of London is, I suppose,' said Mr

The meek man supposed he did, but supposed that had absolutely
nothing to do with it, if its laws were well administered.

'And you know; at least I hope you know;' said Mr Podsnap, with
severity, 'that Providence has declared that you shall have the poor
always with you?'

The meek man also hoped he knew that.

'I am glad to hear it,' said Mr Podsnap with a portentous air. 'I am
glad to hear it. It will render you cautious how you fly in the face
of Providence.'

In reference to that absurd and irreverent conventional phrase, the
meek man said, for which Mr Podsnap was not responsible, he the
meek man had no fear of doing anything so impossible; but--

But Mr Podsnap felt that the time had come for flushing and
flourishing this meek man down for good. So he said:

'I must decline to pursue this painful discussion. It is not pleasant
to my feelings; it is repugnant to my feelings. I have said that I do
not admit these things. I have also said that if they do occur (not
that I admit it), the fault lies with the sufferers themselves. It is not
for ME'--Mr Podsnap pointed 'me' forcibly, as adding by
implication though it may be all very well for YOU--'it is not for
me to impugn the workings of Providence. I know better than that,
I trust, and I have mentioned what the intentions of Providence are.
Besides,' said Mr Podsnap, flushing high up among his hair-
brushes, with a strong consciousness of personal affront, 'the
subject is a very disagreeable one. I will go so far as to say it is an
odious one. It is not one to be introduced among our wives and
young persons, and I--' He finished with that flourish of his arm
which added more expressively than any words, And I remove it
from the face of the earth.

Simultaneously with this quenching of the meek man's ineffectual
fire; Georgiana having left the ambler up a lane of sofa, in a No
Thoroughfare of back drawing-room, to find his own way out,
came back to Mrs Lammle. And who should be with Mrs
Lammle, but Mr Lammle. So fond of her!

'Alfred, my love, here is my friend. Georgiana, dearest girl, you
must like my husband next to me.

Mr Lammle was proud to be so soon distinguished by this special
commendation to Miss Podsnap's favour. But if Mr Lammle were
prone to be jealous of his dear Sophronia's friendships, he would
be jealous of her feeling towards Miss Podsnap.

'Say Georgiana, darling,' interposed his wife.

'Towards--shall I?--Georgiana.' Mr Lammle uttered the name,
with a delicate curve of his right hand, from his lips outward. 'For
never have I known Sophronia (who is not apt to take sudden
likings) so attracted and so captivated as she is by--shall I once

The object of this homage sat uneasily enough in receipt of it, and
then said, turning to Mrs Lammle, much embarrassed:

'I wonder what you like me for! I am sure I can't think.'

'Dearest Georgiana, for yourself. For your difference from all
around you.'

'Well! That may be. For I think I like you for your difference from
all around me,' said Georgiana with a smile of relief.

'We must be going with the rest,' observed Mrs Lammle, rising
with a show of unwillingness, amidst a general dispersal. 'We are
real friends, Georgiana dear?'


'Good night, dear girl!'

She had established an attraction over the shrinking nature upon
which her smiling eyes were fixed, for Georgiana held her hand
while she answered in a secret and half-frightened tone:

'Don't forget me when you are gone away. And come again soon.
Good night!'

Charming to see Mr and Mrs Lammle taking leave so gracefully,
and going down the stairs so lovingly and sweetly. Not quite so
charming to see their smiling faces fall and brood as they dropped
moodily into separate corners of their little carriage. But to he sure
that was a sight behind the scenes, which nobody saw, and which
nobody was meant to see.

Certain big, heavy vehicles, built on the model of the Podsnap
plate, took away the heavy articles of guests weighing ever so
much; and the less valuable articles got away after their various
manners; and the Podsnap plate was put to bed. As Mr Podsnap
stood with his back to the drawing-room fire, pulling up his
shirtcollar, like a veritable cock of the walk literally pluming
himself in the midst of his possessions, nothing would have
astonished him more than an intimation that Miss Podsnap, or any
other young person properly born and bred, could not be exactly
put away like the plate, brought out like the plate, polished like the
plate, counted, weighed, and valued like the plate. That such a
young person could possibly have a morbid vacancy in the heart for
anything younger than the plate, or less monotonous than the plate;
or that such a young person's thoughts could try to scale the region
bounded on the north, south, east, and west, by the plate; was a
monstrous imagination which he would on the spot have flourished
into space. This perhaps in some sort arose from Mr Podsnap's
blushing young person being, so to speak, all cheek; whereas there
is a possibility that there may be young persons of a rather more
complex organization.

If Mr Podsnap, pulling up his shirt-collar, could only have beard
himself called 'that fellow' in a certain short dialogue, which
passed between Mr and Mrs Lammle in their opposite corners of
their little carriage, rolling home!

'Sophronia, are you awake?'

'Am I likely to be asleep, sir?'

'Very likely, I should think, after that fellow's company. Attend to
what I am going to say.'

'I have attended to what you have already said, have I not? What
else have I been doing all to-night.'

'Attend, I tell you,' (in a raised voice) 'to what I am going to say.
Keep close to that idiot girl. Keep her under your thumb. You
have her fast, and you are not to let her go. Do you hear?'

'I hear you.'

'I foresee there is money to be made out of this, besides taking that
fellow down a peg. We owe each other money, you know.'

Mrs Lammle winced a little at the reminder, but only enough to
shake her scents and essences anew into the atmosphere of the
little carriage, as she settled herself afresh in her own dark corner.

Chapter 12


Mr Mortimer Lightwood and Mr Eugene Wrayburn took a coffee-
house dinner together in Mr Lightwood's office. They had newly
agreed to set up a joint establishment together. They had taken a
bachelor cottage near Hampton, on the brink of the Thames, with a
lawn, and a boat-house; and all things fitting, and were to float
with the stream through the summer and the Long Vacation.

It was not summer yet, but spring; and it was not gentle spring
ethereally mild, as in Thomson's Seasons, but nipping spring with
an easterly wind, as in Johnson's, Jackson's, Dickson's, Smith's,
and Jones's Seasons. The grating wind sawed rather than blew;
and as it sawed, the sawdust whirled about the sawpit. Every
street was a sawpit, and there were no top-sawyers; every
passenger was an under-sawyer, with the sawdust blinding him
and choking him.

That mysterious paper currency which circulates in London when
the wind blows, gyrated here and there and everywhere. Whence
can it come, whither can it go? It hangs on every bush, flutters in
every tree, is caught flying by the electric wires, haunts every
enclosure, drinks at every pump, cowers at every grating, shudders
upon every plot of grass, seeks rest in vain behind the legions of
iron rails. In Paris, where nothing is wasted, costly and luxurious
city though it be, but where wonderful human ants creep out of
holes and pick up every scrap, there is no such thing. There, it
blows nothing but dust. There, sharp eyes and sharp stomachs
reap even the east wind, and get something out of it.

The wind sawed, and the sawdust whirled. The shrubs wrung
their many hands, bemoaning that they had been over-persuaded
by the sun to bud; the young leaves pined; the sparrows repented of
their early marriages, like men and women; the colours of the
rainbow were discernible, not in floral spring, but in the faces of
the people whom it nibbled and pinched. And ever the wind
sawed, and the sawdust whirled.

When the spring evenings are too long and light to shut out, and
such weather is rife, the city which Mr Podsnap so explanatorily
called London, Londres, London, is at its worst. Such a black
shrill city, combining the qualities of a smoky house and a
scolding wife; such a gritty city; such a hopeless city, with no rent
in the leaden canopy of its sky; such a beleaguered city, invested by
the great Marsh Forces of Essex and Kent. So the two old
schoolfellows felt it to be, as, their dinner done, they turned
towards the fire to smoke. Young Blight was gone, the coffee-
house waiter was gone, the plates and dishes were gone, the wine
was going--but not in the same direction.

'The wind sounds up here,' quoth Eugene, stirring the fire, 'as if we
were keeping a lighthouse. I wish we were.'

'Don't you think it would bore us?' Lightwood asked.

'Not more than any other place. And there would be no Circuit to
go. But that's a selfish consideration, personal to me.'

'And no clients to come,' added Lightwood. 'Not that that's a
selfish consideration at all personal to ME.'

'If we were on an isolated rock in a stormy sea,' said Eugene,
smoking with his eyes on the fire, 'Lady Tippins couldn't put off to
visit us, or, better still, might put off and get swamped. People
couldn't ask one to wedding breakfasts. There would be no
Precedents to hammer at, except the plain-sailing Precedent of
keeping the light up. It would be exciting to look out for wrecks.'

'But otherwise,' suggested Lightwood, 'there might be a degree of
sameness in the life.'

'I have thought of that also,' said Eugene, as if he really had been
considering the subject in its various bearings with an eye to the
business; 'but it would be a defined and limited monotony. It
would not extend beyond two people. Now, it's a question with
me, Mortimer, whether a monotony defined with that precision and
limited to that extent, might not be more endurable than the
unlimited monotony of one's fellow-creatures.'

As Lightwood laughed and passed the wine, he remarked, 'We
shall have an opportunity, in our boating summer, of trying the

'An imperfect one,' Eugene acquiesced, with a sigh, 'but so we
shall. I hope we may not prove too much for one another.'

'Now, regarding your respected father,' said Lightwood, bringing
him to a subject they had expressly appointed to discuss: always
the most slippery eel of eels of subjects to lay hold of.

'Yes, regarding my respected father,' assented Eugene, settling
himself in his arm-chair. 'I would rather have approached my
respected father by candlelight, as a theme requiring a little
artificial brilliancy; but we will take him by twilight, enlivened
with a glow of Wallsend.'

He stirred the fire again as he spoke, and having made it blaze,

'My respected father has found, down in the parental
neighbourhood, a wife for his not-generally-respected son.'

'With some money, of course?'

'With some money, of course, or he would not have found her. My
respected father--let me shorten the dutiful tautology by
substituting in future M. R. F., which sounds military, and rather
like the Duke of Wellington.'

'What an absurd fellow you are, Eugene!'

'Not at all, I assure you. M. R. F. having always in the clearest
manner provided (as he calls it) for his children by pre-arranging
from the hour of the birth of each, and sometimes from an earlier
period, what the devoted little victim's calling and course in life
should be, M. R. F. pre-arranged for myself that I was to be the
barrister I am (with the slight addition of an enormous practice,
which has not accrued), and also the married man I am not.'

'The first you have often told me.'

'The first I have often told you. Considering myself sufficiently
incongruous on my legal eminence, I have until now suppressed
my domestic destiny. You know M. R. F., but not as well as I do.
If you knew him as well as I do, he would amuse you.'

'Filially spoken, Eugene!'

'Perfectly so, believe me; and with every sentiment of affectionate
deference towards M. R. F. But if he amuses me, I can't help it.
When my eldest brother was born, of course the rest of us knew (I
mean the rest of us would have known, if we had been in
existence) that he was heir to the Family Embarrassments--we call
it before the company the Family Estate. But when my second
brother was going to be born by-and-by, "this," says M. R. F., "is a
little pillar of the church." WAS born, and became a pillar of the
church; a very shaky one. My third brother appeared, considerably
in advance of his engagement to my mother; but M. R. F., not at all
put out by surprise, instantly declared him a Circumnavigator.
Was pitch-forked into the Navy, but has not circumnavigated. I
announced myself and was disposed of with the highly satisfactory
results embodied before you. When my younger brother was half
an hour old, it was settled by M. R. F. that he should have a
mechanical genius. And so on. Therefore I say that M. R. F.
amuses me.'

'Touching the lady, Eugene.'

'There M. R. F. ceases to be amusing, because my intentions are
opposed to touching the lady.'

'Do you know her?'

'Not in the least.'

'Hadn't you better see her?'

'My dear Mortimer, you have studied my character. Could I
possibly go down there, labelled "ELIGIBLE. ON VIEW," and
meet the lady, similarly labelled? Anything to carry out M. R. F.'s
arrangements, I am sure, with the greatest pleasure--except
matrimony. Could I possibly support it? I, so soon bored, so
constantly, so fatally?'

'But you are not a consistent fellow, Eugene.'

'In susceptibility to boredom,' returned that worthy, 'I assure you I
am the most consistent of mankind.'

'Why, it was but now that you were dwelling in the advantages of a
monotony of two.'

'In a lighthouse. Do me the justice to remember the condition. In
a lighthouse.'

Mortimer laughed again, and Eugene, having laughed too for the
first time, as if he found himself on reflection rather entertaining,
relapsed into his usual gloom, and drowsily said, as he enjoyed his
cigar, 'No, there is no help for it; one of the prophetic deliveries of
M. R. F. must for ever remain unfulfilled. With every disposition
to oblige him, he must submit to a failure.'

It had grown darker as they talked, and the wind was sawing and
the sawdust was whirling outside paler windows. The underlying
churchyard was already settling into deep dim shade, and the
shade was creeping up to the housetops among which they sat. 'As
if,' said Eugene, 'as if the churchyard ghosts were rising.'

He had walked to the window with his cigar in his mouth, to exalt
its flavour by comparing the fireside with the outside, when he
stopped midway on his return to his arm-chair, and said:

'Apparently one of the ghosts has lost its way, and dropped in to be
directed. Look at this phantom!'

Lightwood, whose back was towards the door, turned his head,
and there, in the darkness of the entry, stood a something in the
likeness of a man: to whom he addressed the not irrelevant inquiry,
'Who the devil are you?'

'I ask your pardons, Governors,' replied the ghost, in a hoarse
double-barrelled whisper, 'but might either on you be Lawyer

'What do you mean by not knocking at the door?' demanded

'I ask your pardons, Governors,' replied the ghost, as before, 'but
probable you was not aware your door stood open.'

'What do you want?'

Hereunto the ghost again hoarsely replied, in its double-barrelled
manner, 'I ask your pardons, Governors, but might one on you be
Lawyer Lightwood?'

'One of us is,' said the owner of that name.

'All right, Governors Both,' returned the ghost, carefully closing the
room door; ''tickler business.'

Mortimer lighted the candles. They showed the visitor to be an ill-
looking visitor with a squinting leer, who, as he spoke, fumbled at
an old sodden fur cap, formless and mangey, that looked like a
furry animal, dog or cat, puppy or kitten, drowned and decaying.

'Now,' said Mortimer, 'what is it?'

'Governors Both,' returned the man, in what he meant to be a
wheedling tone, 'which on you might be Lawyer Lightwood?'

'I am.'

'Lawyer Lightwood,' ducking at him with a servile air, 'I am a man
as gets my living, and as seeks to get my living, by the sweat of my
brow. Not to risk being done out of the sweat of my brow, by any
chances, I should wish afore going further to be swore in.'

'I am not a swearer in of people, man.'

The visitor, clearly anything but reliant on this assurance, doggedly
muttered 'Alfred David.'

'Is that your name?' asked Lightwood.

'My name?' returned the man. 'No; I want to take a Alfred David.'

(Which Eugene, smoking and contemplating him, interpreted as
meaning Affidavit.)

'I tell you, my good fellow,' said Lightwood, with his indolent
laugh, 'that I have nothing to do with swearing.'

'He can swear AT you,' Eugene explained; 'and so can I. But we
can't do more for you.'

Much discomfited by this information, the visitor turned the
drowned dog or cat, puppy or kitten, about and about, and looked
from one of the Governors Both to the other of the Governors Both,
while he deeply considered within himself. At length he decided:

'Then I must be took down.'

'Where?' asked Lightwood.

'Here,' said the man. 'In pen and ink.'

'First, let us know what your business is about.'

'It's about,' said the man, taking a step forward, dropping his
hoarse voice, and shading it with his hand, 'it's about from five to
ten thousand pound reward. That's what it's about. It's about
Murder. That's what it's about.'

'Come nearer the table. Sit down. Will you have a glass of wine?'

'Yes, I will,' said the man; 'and I don't deceive you, Governors.'

It was given him. Making a stiff arm to the elbow, he poured the
wine into his mouth, tilted it into his right cheek, as saying, 'What
do you think of it?' tilted it into his left cheek, as saying, 'What do
YOU think of it?' jerked it into his stomach, as saying, 'What do
YOU think of it?' To conclude, smacked his lips, as if all three
replied, 'We think well of it.'

'Will you have another?'

'Yes, I will,' he repeated, 'and I don't deceive you, Governors.' And
also repeated the other proceedings.

'Now,' began Lightwood, 'what's your name?'

'Why, there you're rather fast, Lawyer Lightwood,' he replied, in a
remonstrant manner. 'Don't you see, Lawyer Lightwood? There
you're a little bit fast. I'm going to earn from five to ten thousand
pound by the sweat of my brow; and as a poor man doing justice to
the sweat of my brow, is it likely I can afford to part with so much
as my name without its being took down?'

Deferring to the man's sense of the binding powers of pen and ink
and paper, Lightwood nodded acceptance of Eugene's nodded
proposal to take those spells in hand. Eugene, bringing them to the
table, sat down as clerk or notary.

'Now,' said Lightwood, 'what's your name?'

But further precaution was still due to the sweat of this honest
fellow's brow.

'I should wish, Lawyer Lightwood,' he stipulated, 'to have that
T'other Governor as my witness that what I said I said.
Consequent, will the T'other Governor be so good as chuck me his
name and where he lives?'

Eugene, cigar in mouth and pen in hand, tossed him his card.
After spelling it out slowly, the man made it into a little roll, and
tied it up in an end of his neckerchief still more slowly.

'Now,' said Lightwood, for the third time, 'if you have quite
completed your various preparations, my friend, and have fully
ascertained that your spirits are cool and not in any way hurried,
what's your name?'

'Roger Riderhood.'


'Lime'us Hole.'

'Calling or occupation?'

Not quite so glib with this answer as with the previous two, Mr
Riderhood gave in the definition, 'Waterside character.'

'Anything against you?' Eugene quietly put in, as he wrote.

Rather baulked, Mr Riderhood evasively remarked, with an
innocent air, that he believed the T'other Governor had asked him

'Ever in trouble?' said Eugene.

'Once.' (Might happen to any man, Mr Riderhood added

'On suspicion of--'

'Of seaman's pocket,' said Mr Riderhood. 'Whereby I was in
reality the man's best friend, and tried to take care of him.'

'With the sweat of your brow?' asked Eugene.

'Till it poured down like rain,' said Roger Riderhood.

Eugene leaned back in his chair, and smoked with his eyes
negligently turned on the informer, and his pen ready to reduce him
to more writing. Lightwood also smoked, with his eyes
negligently turned on the informer.

'Now let me be took down again,' said Riderhood, when he had
turned the drowned cap over and under, and had brushed it the
wrong way (if it had a right way) with his sleeve. 'I give
information that the man that done the Harmon Murder is Gaffer
Hexam, the man that found the body. The hand of Jesse Hexam,
commonly called Gaffer on the river and along shore, is the hand
that done that deed. His hand and no other.'

The two friends glanced at one another with more serious faces
than they had shown yet.

'Tell us on what grounds you make this accusation,' said Mortimer

'On the grounds,' answered Riderhood, wiping his face with his
sleeve, 'that I was Gaffer's pardner, and suspected of him many a
long day and many a dark night. On the grounds that I knowed his
ways. On the grounds that I broke the pardnership because I see
the danger; which I warn you his daughter may tell you another
story about that, for anythink I can say, but you know what it'll be
worth, for she'd tell you lies, the world round and the heavens
broad, to save her father. On the grounds that it's well understood
along the cause'ays and the stairs that he done it. On the grounds
that he's fell off from, because he done it. On the grounds that I
will swear he done it. On the grounds that you may take me where
you will, and get me sworn to it. I don't want to back out of the
consequences. I have made up MY mind. Take me anywheres.'

'All this is nothing,' said Lightwood.

'Nothing?' repeated Riderhood, indignantly and amazedly.

'Merely nothing. It goes to no more than that you suspect this man
of the crime. You may do so with some reason, or you may do so
with no reason, but he cannot be convicted on your suspicion.'

'Haven't I said--I appeal to the T'other Governor as my witness--
haven't I said from the first minute that I opened my mouth in this
here world-without-end-everlasting chair' (he evidently used that
form of words as next in force to an affidavit), 'that I was willing to
swear that he done it? Haven't I said, Take me and get me sworn
to it? Don't I say so now? You won't deny it, Lawyer Lightwood?'

'Surely not; but you only offer to swear to your suspicion, and I tell
you it is not enough to swear to your suspicion.'

'Not enough, ain't it, Lawyer Lightwood?' he cautiously demanded.

'Positively not.'

'And did I say it WAS enough? Now, I appeal to the T'other
Governor. Now, fair! Did I say so?'

'He certainly has not said that he had no more to tell,' Eugene
observed in a low voice without looking at him, 'whatever he
seemed to imply.' -

'Hah!' cried the informer, triumphantly perceiving that the remark
was generally in his favour, though apparently not closely
understanding it. 'Fort'nate for me I had a witness!'

'Go on, then,' said Lightwood. 'Say out what you have to say. No

'Let me be took down then!' cried the informer, eagerly and
anxiously. 'Let me be took down, for by George and the Draggin
I'm a coming to it now! Don't do nothing to keep back from a
honest man the fruits of the sweat of his brow! I give information,
then, that he told me that he done it. Is THAT enough?'

'Take care what you say, my friend,' returned Mortimer.

'Lawyer Lightwood, take care, you, what I say; for I judge you'll be
answerable for follering it up!' Then, slowly and emphatically
beating it all out with his open right hand on the palm of his left;
'I, Roger Riderhood, Lime'us Hole, Waterside character, tell you,
Lawyer Lightwood, that the man Jesse Hexam, commonly called
upon the river and along-shore Gaffer, told me that he done the
deed. What's more, he told me with his own lips that he done the
deed. What's more, he said that he done the deed. And I'll swear it!'

'Where did he tell you so?'

'Outside,' replied Riderhood, always beating it out, with his head
determinedly set askew, and his eyes watchfully dividing their
attention between his two auditors, 'outside the door of the Six
Jolly Fellowships, towards a quarter after twelve o'clock at
midnight--but I will not in my conscience undertake to swear to so
fine a matter as five minutes--on the night when he picked up the
body. The Six Jolly Fellowships won't run away. If it turns out
that he warn't at the Six Jolly Fellowships that night at midnight,
I'm a liar.'

'What did he say?'

'I'll tell you (take me down, T'other Governor, I ask no better). He
come out first; I come out last. I might be a minute arter him; I
might be half a minute, I might be a quarter of a minute; I cannot
swear to that, and therefore I won't. That's knowing the
obligations of a Alfred David, ain't it?'

'Go on.'

'I found him a waiting to speak to me. He says to me, "Rogue
Riderhood"--for that's the name I'm mostly called by--not for any
meaning in it, for meaning it has none, but because of its being
similar to Roger.'

'Never mind that.'

''Scuse ME, Lawyer Lightwood, it's a part of the truth, and as such
I do mind it, and I must mind it and I will mind it. "Rogue
Riderhood," he says, "words passed betwixt us on the river
tonight." Which they had; ask his daughter! "I threatened you,"
he says, "to chop you over the fingers with my boat's stretcher, or
take a aim at your brains with my boathook. I did so on accounts
of your looking too hard at what I had in tow, as if you was
suspicious, and on accounts of your holding on to the gunwale of
my boat." I says to him, "Gaffer, I know it." He says to me,
"Rogue Riderhood, you are a man in a dozen"--I think he said in a
score, but of that I am not positive, so take the lowest figure, for
precious be the obligations of a Alfred David. "And," he says,
"when your fellow-men is up, be it their lives or be it their watches,
sharp is ever the word with you. Had you suspicions?" I says,
"Gaffer, I had; and what's more, I have." He falls a shaking, and
he says, "Of what?" I says, "Of foul play." He falls a shaking
worse, and he says, "There WAS foul play then. I done it for his
money. Don't betray me!" Those were the words as ever he used.'

There was a silence, broken only by the fall of the ashes in the
grate. An opportunity which the informer improved by smearing
himself all over the head and neck and face with his drowned cap,
and not at all improving his own appearance.

'What more?' asked Lightwood.

'Of him, d'ye mean, Lawyer Lightwood?'

'Of anything to the purpose.'

'Now, I'm blest if I understand you, Governors Both,' said the
informer, in a creeping manner: propitiating both, though only one
had spoken. 'What? Ain't THAT enough?'

'Did you ask him how he did it, where he did it, when he did it?'

'Far be it from me, Lawyer Lightwood! I was so troubled in my
mind, that I wouldn't have knowed more, no, not for the sum as I
expect to earn from you by the sweat of my brow, twice told! I had
put an end to the pardnership. I had cut the connexion. I couldn't
undo what was done; and when he begs and prays, "Old pardner,
on my knees, don't split upon me!" I only makes answer "Never
speak another word to Roger Riderhood, nor look him in the face!"
and I shuns that man.'

Having given these words a swing to make them mount the higher
and go the further, Rogue Riderhood poured himself out another
glass of wine unbidden, and seemed to chew it, as, with the half-
emptied glass in his hand, he stared at the candles.

Mortimer glanced at Eugene, but Eugene sat glowering at his
paper, and would give him no responsive glance. Mortimer again
turned to the informer, to whom he said:

'You have been troubled in your mind a long time, man?'

Giving his wine a final chew, and swallowing it, the informer
answered in a single word:


'When all that stir was made, when the Government reward was
offered, when the police were on the alert, when the whole country
rang with the crime!' said Mottimer, impatiently.

'Hah!' Mr Riderhood very slowly and hoarsely chimed in, with
several retrospective nods of his head. 'Warn't I troubled in my
mind then!'

'When conjecture ran wild, when the most extravagant suspicions
were afloat, when half a dozen innocent people might have been
laid by the heels any hour in the day!' said Mortimer, almost

'Hah!' Mr Riderhood chimed in, as before. 'Warn't I troubled in my
mind through it all!'

'But he hadn't,' said Eugene, drawing a lady's head upon his
writing-paper, and touching it at intervals, 'the opportunity then of
earning so much money, you see.'

'The T'other Governor hits the nail, Lawyer Lightwood! It was
that as turned me. I had many times and again struggled to relieve
myself of the trouble on my mind, but I couldn't get it off. I had
once very nigh got it off to Miss Abbey Potterson which keeps the
Six Jolly Fellowships--there is the 'ouse, it won't run away,--there
lives the lady, she ain't likely to be struck dead afore you get there--
ask her!--but I couldn't do it. At last, out comes the new bill with
your own lawful name, Lawyer Lightwood, printed to it, and then I
asks the question of my own intellects, Am I to have this trouble
on my mind for ever? Am I never to throw it off? Am I always to
think more of Gaffer than of my own self? If he's got a daughter,
ain't I got a daughter?'

'And echo answered--?' Eugene suggested.

'"You have,"' said Mr Riderhood, in a firm tone.

'Incidentally mentioning, at the same time, her age?' inquired

'Yes, governor. Two-and-twenty last October. And then I put it to
myself, "Regarding the money. It is a pot of money." For it IS a
pot,' said Mr Riderhood, with candour, 'and why deny it?'

'Hear!' from Eugene as he touched his drawing.

'"It is a pot of money; but is it a sin for a labouring man that
moistens every crust of bread he earns, with his tears--or if not
with them, with the colds he catches in his head--is it a sin for that
man to earn it? Say there is anything again earning it." This I put
to myself strong, as in duty bound; "how can it be said without
blaming Lawyer Lightwood for offering it to be earned?" And was
it for ME to blame Lawyer Lightwood? No.'

'No,' said Eugene.

'Certainly not, Governor,' Mr Riderhood acquiesced. 'So I made up
my mind to get my trouble off my mind, and to earn by the sweat
of my brow what was held out to me. And what's more, he added,
suddenly turning bloodthirsty, 'I mean to have it! And now I tell
you, once and away, Lawyer Lightwood, that Jesse Hexam,
commonly called Gaffer, his hand and no other, done the deed, on
his own confession to me. And I give him up to you, and I want
him took. This night!'

After another silence, broken only by the fall of the ashes in the
grate, which attracted the informer's attention as if it were the
chinking of money, Mortimer Lightwood leaned over his friend,
and said in a whisper:

'I suppose I must go with this fellow to our imperturbable friend at
the police-station.'

'I suppose,' said Eugene, 'there is no help for it.'

'Do you believe him?'

'I believe him to be a thorough rascal. But he may tell the truth, for
his own purpose, and for this occasion only.'

'It doesn't look like it.'

'HE doesn't,' said Eugene. 'But neither is his late partner, whom he
denounces, a prepossessing person. The firm are cut-throat
Shepherds both, in appearance. I should like to ask him one thing.'

The subject of this conference sat leering at the ashes, trying with
all his might to overhear what was said, but feigning abstraction as
the 'Governors Both' glanced at him.

'You mentioned (twice, I think) a daughter of this Hexam's,' said
Eugene, aloud. 'You don't mean to imply that she had any guilty
knowledge of the crime?'

The honest man, after considering--perhaps considering how his
answer might affect the fruits of the sweat of his brow--replied,
unreservedly, 'No, I don't.'

'And you implicate no other person?'

'It ain't what I implicate, it's what Gaffer implicated,' was the
dogged and determined answer. 'I don't pretend to know more
than that his words to me was, "I done it." Those was his words.'

'I must see this out, Mortimer,' whispered Eugene, rising. 'How
shall we go?'

'Let us walk,' whispered Lightwood, 'and give this fellow time to
think of it.'

Having exchanged the question and answer, they prepared
themselves for going out, and Mr Riderhood rose. While
extinguishing the candles, Lightwood, quite as a matter of course
took up the glass from which that honest gentleman had drunk,
and coolly tossed it under the grate, where it fell shivering into

'Now, if you will take the lead,' said Lightwood, 'Mr Wrayburn and
I will follow. You know where to go, I suppose?'

'I suppose I do, Lawyer Lightwood.'

'Take the lead, then.'

The waterside character pulled his drowned cap over his ears with
both hands, and making himself more round-shouldered than
nature had made him, by the sullen and persistent slouch with
which he went, went down the stairs, round by the Temple
Church, across the Temple into Whitefriars, and so on by the
waterside streets.

'Look at his hang-dog air,' said Lightwood, following.

'It strikes me rather as a hang-MAN air,' returned Eugene. 'He has
undeniable intentions that way.'

They said little else as they followed. He went on before them as
an ugly Fate might have done, and they kept him in view, and
would have been glad enough to lose sight of him. But on he went
before them, always at the same distance, and the same rate.
Aslant against the hard implacable weather and the rough wind, he
was no more to be driven back than hurried forward, but held on
like an advancing Destiny. There came, when they were about
midway on their journey, a heavy rush of hail, which in a few
minutes pelted the streets clear, and whitened them. It made no
difference to him. A man's life being to be taken and the price of it
got, the hailstones to arrest the purpose must lie larger and deeper
than those. He crnshed through them, leaving marks in the fast-
melting slush that were mere shapeless holes; one might have
fancied, following, that the very fashion of humanity had departed
from his feet.

The blast went by, and the moon contended with the fast-flying
clouds, and the wild disorder reigning up there made the pitiful
little tumults in the streets of no account. It was not that the wind
swept all the brawlers into places of shelter, as it had swept the
hail still lingering in heaps wherever there was refuge for it; but
that it seemed as if the streets were absorbed by the sky, and the
night were all in the air.

'If he has had time to think of it,' said Eugene, he has not had time
to think better of it--or differently of it, if that's better. There is no
sign of drawing back in him; and as I recollect this place, we must
be close upon the corner where we alighted that night.'

In fact, a few abrupt turns brought them to the river side, where
they had slipped about among the stones, and where they now
slipped more; the wind coming against them in slants and flaws,
across the tide and the windings of the river, in a furious way.
With that habit of getting under the lee of any shelter which
waterside characters acquire, the waterside character at present in
question led the way to the leeside of the Six Jolly Fellowship
Porters before he spoke.

'Look round here, Lawyer Lightwood, at them red curtains. It's
the Fellowships, the 'ouse as I told you wouldn't run away. And
has it run away?'

Not showing himself much impressed by this remarkable
confirmation of the informer's evidence, Lightwood inquired what
other business they had there?

'I wished you to see the Fellowships for yourself, Lawyer
Lightwood, that you might judge whether I'm a liar; and now I'll
see Gaffer's window for myself, that we may know whether he's at

With that, he crept away.

'He'll come back, I suppose?' murmured Lightwood.

'Ay! and go through with it,' murmured Eugene.

He came back after a very short interval indeed.

'Gaffer's out, and his boat's out. His daughter's at home, sitting a-
looking at the fire. But there's some supper getting ready, so
Gaffer's expected. I can find what move he's upon, easy enough,

Then he beckoned and led the way again, and they came to the
police-station, still as clean and cool and steady as before, saving
that the flame of its lamp--being but a lamp-flame, and only
attached to the Force as an outsider--flickered in the wind.

Also, within doors, Mr Inspector was at his studies as of yore. He
recognized the friends the instant they reappeared, but their
reappearance had no effect on his composure. Not even the
circumstance that Riderhood was their conductor moved him,
otherwise than that as he took a dip of ink he seemed, by a
settlement of his chin in his stock, to propound to that personage,
without looking at him, the question, 'What have YOU been up to,

Mortimer Lightwood asked him, would he be so good as look at
those notes? Handing him Eugene's.

Having read the first few lines, Mr Inspector mounted to that (for
him) extraordinary pitch of emotion that he said, 'Does either of
you two gentlemen happen to have a pinch of snuff about him?'
Finding that neither had, he did quite as well without it, and read

'Have you heard these read?' he then demanded of the honest man.

'No,' said Riderhood.

'Then you had better hear them.' And so read them aloud, in an
official manner.

'Are these notes correct, now, as to the information you bring here
and the evidence you mean to give?' he asked, when he had
finished reading.

'They are. They are as correct,' returned Mr Riderhood, 'as I am. I
can't say more than that for 'em.'

'I'll take this man myself, sir,' said Mr Inspector to Lightwood.
Then to Riderhood, 'Is he at home? Where is he? What's he
doing? You have made it your business to know all ahout him, no

Riderhood said what he did know, and promised to find out in a
few minutes what he didn't know.

'Stop,' said Mr Inspector; 'not till I tell you: We mustn't look like
business. Would you two gentlemen object to making a pretence
of taking a glass of something in my company at the Fellowships?
Well-conducted house, and highly respectable landlady.'

They replied that they would be happy to substitute a reality for
the pretence, which, in the main, appeared to be as one with Mr
Inspector's meaning.

'Very good,' said he, taking his hat from its peg, and putting a pair
of handcuffs in his pocket as if they were his gloves. 'Reserve!'
Reserve saluted. 'You know where to find me?' Reserve again
saluted. 'Riderhood, when you have found out concerning his
coming home, come round to the window of Cosy, tap twice at it,
and wait for me. Now, gentlemen.'

As the three went out together, and Riderhood slouched off from
under the trembling lamp his separate way, Lightwood asked the
officer what he thought of this?

Mr Inspector replied, with due generality and reticence, that it was
always more likely that a man had done a bad thing than that he
hadn't. That he himself had several times 'reckoned up' Gaffer, but
had never been able to bring him to a satisfactory criminal total.
That if this story was true, it was only in part true. That the two
men, very shy characters, would have been jointly and pretty
equally 'in it;' but that this man had 'spotted' the other, to save
himself and get the money.

'And I think,' added Mr Inspector, in conclusion, 'that if all goes
well with him, he's in a tolerable way of getting it. But as this is
the Fellowships, gentlemen, where the lights are, I recommend
dropping the subject. You can't do better than be interested in
some lime works anywhere down about Northfleet, and doubtful
whether some of your lime don't get into bad company as it comes
up in barges.'

'You hear Eugene?' said Lightwood, over his shoulder. 'You are
deeply interested in lime.'

'Without lime,' returned that unmoved barrister-at-law, 'my
existence would be unilluminated by a ray of hope.'

Chapter 13


The two lime merchants, with their escort, entered the dominions
of Miss Abbey Potterson, to whom their escort (presenting them
and their pretended business over the half-door of the bar, in a
confidential way) preferred his figurative request that 'a mouthful
of fire' might be lighted in Cosy. Always well disposed to assist
the constituted authorities, Miss Abbey bade Bob Gliddery attend
the gentlemen to that retreat, and promptly enliven it with fire and
gaslight. Of this commission the bare-armed Bob, leading the way
with a flaming wisp of paper, so speedily acquitted himself, that
Cosy seemed to leap out of a dark sleep and embrace them warmly,
the moment they passed the lintels of its hospitable door.

'They burn sherry very well here,' said Mr Inspector, as a piece of
local intelligence. 'Perhaps you gentlemen might like a bottle?'

The answer being By all means, Bob Gliddery received his
instructions from Mr Inspector, and departed in a becoming state
of alacrity engendered by reverence for the majesty of the law.

'It's a certain fact,' said Mr Inspector, 'that this man we have
received our information from,' indicating Riderhood with his
thumb over his shoulder, 'has for some time past given the other
man a bad name arising out of your lime barges, and that the other
man has been avoided in consequence. I don't say what it means
or proves, but it's a certain fact. I had it first from one of the
opposite sex of my acquaintance,' vaguely indicating Miss Abbey
with his thumb over his shoulder, 'down away at a distance, over

Then probably Mr Inspector was not quite unprepared for their
visit that evening? Lightwood hinted.

'Well you see,' said Mr Inspector, 'it was a question of making a
move. It's of no use moving if you don't know what your move is.
You had better by far keep still. In the matter of this lime, I
certainly had an idea that it might lie betwixt the two men; I
always had that idea. Still I was forced to wait for a start, and I
wasn't so lucky as to get a start. This man that we have received
our information from, has got a start, and if he don't meet with a
check he may make the running and come in first. There may turn
out to be something considerable for him that comes in second, and
I don't mention who may or who may not try for that place. There's
duty to do, and I shall do it, under any circumstances; to the best of
my judgment and ability.'

'Speaking as a shipper of lime--' began Eugene.

'Which no man has a better right to do than yourself, you know,'
said Mr Inspector.

'I hope not,' said Eugene; 'my father having been a shipper of lime
before me, and my grandfather before him--in fact we having been
a family immersed to the crowns of our heads in lime during
several generations--I beg to observe that if this missing lime
could be got hold of without any young female relative of any
distinguished gentleman engaged in the lime trade (which I cherish
next to my life) being present, I think it might be a more agreeable
proceeding to the assisting bystanders, that is to say, lime-burners.'

'I also,' said Lightwood, pushing his friend aside with a laugh,
'should much prefer that.'

'It shall be done, gentlemen, if it can be done conveniently,' said
Mr Inspector, with coolness. 'There is no wish on my part to cause
any distress in that quarter. Indeed, I am sorry for that quarter.'

'There was a boy in that quarter,' remarked Eugene. 'He is still

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