In pursuance of the arrangements which Mr. Blarden had, on the evening before, announced to his intended victim, Gordon Chancey was despatched early the next morning to engage the services of a clergyman for the occasion. He knew pretty well how to choose his man, and for the most part, when a plot was to be executed, in theatrical phrase, cast the parts well. He proceeded leisurely to the city, and sauntering through the streets, found himself at length in Saint Patrick's Close; beneath the shadow of the old Cathedral he turned down a narrow and deserted lane and stopped before a dingy, miserable little shop, over whose doorway hung a panel with the dusky and faded similitude of two great keys crossed, now scarcely discernible through the ancient dust and soot. The shop itself was a chaotic depository of old locks, holdfasts,
p.281chisels, crowbars, and in short, of rusty iron in almost every conceivable shape. Chancey entered this dusky shop, and accosting a very grimed and rusty-looking little boy who was, with a file, industriously employed in converting a kitchen candlestick into a cannon, inquired,
Up the stairs, is it? demanded Chancey.
Aye, the garrets, replied the boy. And mind the hole in the top lobby, he shouted after him, as he passed through the little door in the back of the shop and began to ascend the narrow stairs.
He did mind the hole in the top lobby (a very necessary caution, by the way, as he might otherwise have been easily engulfed therein and broken either his neck or his leg, after descending through the lath and plaster, upon the floor of the landing-place underneath); and having thus safely reached the garret door, he knocked thereupon with his knuckles.
Come in, answered a female voice, not of the most musical quality, and Chancey accordingly entered. A dirty, sluttish woman was sitting by the window, knitting, and as it seemed, she was the only inmate of the room.
Is the Reverend Ebenezer at home, my dear? inquired the barrister.
He is, and he isn't, rejoined the female, oracularly. How's that, my good girl? inquired Chancey. He's in the house, but he's not good for much, answered she.
Has he been throwing up the little finger, my dear? said Chancey, he used to be rayther partial to brandy.
Brandybrandywho says brandy? exclaimed a voice briskly from behind a sheet which hung upon a string so as to screen off one corner of the chamber.
Ay, ay, that's the word that'll waken you, said the woman. Here's a gentleman wants to speak with you.
The devil there is! exclaimed the clerical worthy, abruptly, while with a sudden chuck he dislodged the sheet which had veiled his presence, and disclosed, by so doing, the form of a stout, short, bull-necked man, with a mulberry-coloured face and twinkling grey eyesone of them in deep mourning. He wore a greasy red nightcap and a very tattered and sad-coloured shirt, and was sitting upright in a miserable bed, the covering of which appeared to be a piece of ancient carpet. With one hand he scratched his head,
p.282while in the other he held the sheet which he had just pulled down.
How are you, Parson Shycock? said Chancey; how do you find yourself this morning, doctor?
Tolerably well. But what is it you want with me? out with it, spooney. Any job in my line, eh? inquired the clergyman.
Yes, indeed, doctor, replied Chancey, and a very good job; you're wanted to marry a gentleman and a lady privately, not a mile and a half out of town, this evening; you'll get five guineas for the job, and I think that's no trifle.
The parson mused, and scratched his head again.
Well, said he, you must do a little job for me first. You can't be ignorant that we members of the Church militant are often hard up; and whenever I'm in a fix I pop wig, breeches, and gown, and take to my bed; you'll find the three articles in this lane, corner housesign, three golden balls; present this docketwhere the devil is it? ay, here; all rightpresent this along with two guineas, paid in advance on account of job: bring me the articles, and I'll get up and go along with you in a brace of shakes. And stay; didn't I hear some one talking of brandy? oror was I dreaming? You may as well get in a half-pint, for I'm never the thing till I have some little moderate refreshment; so, dearly beloved, mizzle at once.
Dear me, dear me, doctor, said Chancey, how can you think I'd go for to bring two guineas along with me?
If you haven't the rhino, this is no place for you, my fellow-sinner, rejoined the couple-beggar; and if you have, off with you and deliver the togs out of pop. You wouldn't have a clergyman walk the streets without breeches, eh, dearly beloved cove?
Well, well, but you're a wonderful man, rejoined Chancey, with a faint smile. I suppose, then, I must do it; so give me the docket, and I'll be here again as soon as I can.
And do you mind me, you stray sheep, you, don't forget the lush, added the pastor. I'm very desirous to wet my whistle; my mums, by the hokey, is as dry as a Dutch brick. Good-bye to you, and do you mind, be back here in the twinkling of a brace of bed-posts.
With this injunction, and bearing the crumpled document, which the reverend divine had given him, as his credentials with the pawnbroker, Mr. Chancey cautiously lounged down the crazy stairs.
I say, my nutty Nancy, observed the parson, after a long yawn and a stretch, addressing the female who sat at the window, that chap's made of money. I had a pint with him once in Clarke's publicround the corner there. His name's
p.283Chancey, and he does half the bills in towna regular Jew chap.
So saying, the Reverend Ebenezer Shycock, LL.D., unceremoniously rolled himself out of bed and hobbled to a crazy deal box, in which were deposited such articles of attire as had not been transmitted to the obliging proprietor of the neighbouring three golden balls.
While the reverend divine was kneeling before this box, and, with a tenderness suited to their frail condition, removing the few scanty articles of his wardrobe and laying them reverently upon a crazy stool beside him, Mr. Chancey returned, bearing the liberated decorations of the doctor's person, as also a small black bottle.
Oh, dear me, doctor, said Chancey, but I'm glad to see you're stirring. Here's the things.
And thethe lush, eh? inquired the clergyman, peering inquisitively round Chancey's side to have a peep at the bottle.
Yes, and the lush too, said the barrister.
Well, give me the breeches, said the doctor, with alacrity, clutching those essential articles and proceeding to invest his limbs therein. And, Nancy, a sup of water and a brace of cups.
A cracked mug and a battered pewter goblet made their appearance, and, along with the ruin of a teapot which contained the pure element, were deposited on a chairfor tables were singularly scarce in the reverend doctor's establishment.
Now, my beloved fellow-sinner, mix like a Trojan! exclaimed the divine; and take care, take care, pogey aqua, don't drown it with water; chise it, chise it, man, that'll do.
With these words he grasped the vessel, nodded to Chancey, and directing his two grey eyes with a greedy squint upon the liquor as it approached his lips, he quaffed it at a single draught.
Without waiting for an invitation, which Chancey thought his clerical acquaintance might possibly forget, the barrister mingled some of the same beverage for his own private use, and quietly gulped it down; seeing which, and dreading Mr. Chancey's powers, which he remembered to have already seen tested at Clarke's public, the learned divine abstractedly inverted the brandy bottle into his pewter goblet, and shedding upon it an almost imperceptible dew from the dilapidated teapot, he terminated the symposium and proceeded to finish his toilet.
This was quickly done, and Mr. Gordon Chancey and the Reverend Ebenezer Shycocktwo illustrious and singularly well-matched ornaments of their respective professionsproceeded
p.284arm in arm, both redolent of grog, to the nearest coach stand, where they forthwith supplied themselves with a vehicle; and while Mr. Chancey pretty fully instructed his reverend companion in the precise nature of the service required of him, and, as far as was necessary, communicated the circumstances of the whole case, they traversed the interval which separated Dublin city from the manor of Morley Court.