Gordon Chancey sauntered in his usual lazy, lounging way, with his hands in his pockets, down the street. After a listless walk of half-an-hour he found himself at the door of a handsome house, in the immediate neighbourhood of the Castle. He knocked, and was admitted by a servant in full livery.
Is he in the same room? inquired Chancey.
Yes, sir, replied the man; and without further parley, the learned counsel proceeded upstairs, and knocked at the drawing-room door, which, without waiting for any answer, he forthwith opened.
Nicholas Blardenwith two ugly black plaisters across his face, his arm in a sling, and his countenance bearing in abundance the livid marks of his late rencounterstood with his back to the fire-place; a table, blazing with wax-lights, and stored with glittering wine-flasks and other matters, was placed at a little distance before him. As the man of law entered the room, the countenance of the invalid relaxed into an ugly grin of welcome.
Well, Gordy, boy, how goes the game? Out with your news, old rat-catcher, said Blarden, in high good humour.
Dear me, dear me! but the night is mighty chill, Mr. Blarden, observed Chancey, filling a glass of wine to the brim, and sipping it uninvited. News, he continued, letting himself drop into a chair news; well, there's not much stirring worth telling you.
Come, what is it? You're not come here for nothing, old fox, rejoined Blarden, I know by the twinkle in the corner of your eye.
Well, he has been with me, just now, drawled Chancey.
Well! what does he wantwhat does he want, eh? asked Blarden, with intense excitement.
He says he'll want time for the notes, replied Chancey.
God be thanked ejaculated Blarden, and followed this ejaculation with a ferocious burst of laughter. We'll have him, Chancey, boy, if only we know how to play himby , we'll have him, as sure as there's heat in hell.
Well, maybe we will, rejoined Chancey.
Does he say he can't pay them on the day? asked Blarden, exultingly.
No; he says maybe he can't, replied the jackal.
That's all one, cried Blarden. What do you think? Do you think he can?
I think maybe he can, if we squeeze him, replied Chancey.
Then don't squeeze himhe must not get out of our books on any termswe'll lose him if he does, said Nicholas.
We'll not renew the notes, but hold them over, said Chancey. He must not feel them till he can't pay them. We'll make them sit light on him till thengive him plenty of line for a whilerope enough and a little patienceand the devil himself can't keep him out of the noose.
You're rightyou are, Gordy, boy, rejoined Blarden. Let him get through the ready money firsteh?and then into the stone jug with himwe'll just choose our own time for striking.
I tell you what it is, if you are just said and led by me, you'll have a quare hold on him before three months are past and gone, said Chancey, lazily mind I tell you, you will.
Well, Gordy, boy, fill againfill againhere's success to you.
Chancey filled, and quaffed his bumper, with a matter-of- fact, business-like air.
And do you mind me, boy, continued Blarden, spare nothing in this businessbring Ashwoode entirely under my knuckleand, by , I'll make it a great job for you.
Indeedindeed but I will, Mr. Blarden, if I can, rejoined Chancey; and I think I can I think I know a way, so I do, to get a halter round his neckdo you mind?and leave the rope's end in your hand, to hang him or not, as you like.
To hang him! echoed Blarden, like one who hears something too good to be true.
Yes, to hang him by the neck till he's deaddeaddead, repeated Chancey, imperturbably.
How the blazes will you do it? demanded the wretch, anxiously. Pish, it's all prate and vapour.
Gordon Chancey stole a suspicious glance round the room from the corner of his eye, and then suffering his gaze to rest sleepily upon the fire once more, he stretched out one of his lank arms, and after a little uncertain groping, succeeding in grasping the collar of his companion's coat, and drawing his head down toward him. Blarden knew Mr. Chancey's way, and without a word, lowered his ear to that gentleman's mouth, who forthwith whispered something into it which produced a marked effect upon Mr. Blarden.
If you do that, replied he with ferocious exultation, by , I'll make your fortune for you at a slap.
And so saying, he struck his hand with heavy emphasis upon the barrister's shoulder, like a man who clenches a bargain.
Well, Mr. Blarden, replied Chancey, in the same drowsy tone, as I said before, I declare it's my opinion I can, so it isI think I can.
And so do I think you canby , I'm sure of it, exclaimed Blarden triumphantly; but take some moremore wine, won't you? take some more, and stay a bit, can't you?
Chancey had made his way to the door with his usual drowsy gait; and, passing out without deigning any answer or word of farewell, stumbled lazily downstairs. There was nothing odd, however, in this leave-taking; it was Chancey's way.
We'll do it, and easily too, muttered Blarden with a grin of exultation. I never knew him failthat fellow is worth a mine. Ho! ho! Sir Henry, bewarebeware. Egad, you had better keep a bright look-out. It's rather late for green goslings to look to their necks, when the fox claps his nose in one poultry-yard.