The Three Clerks, by Anthony Trollope

Chapter IX

Mr. Manylodes

Alaric Tudor was very much surprised. Had he seen Sir Gregory himself, or Captain Cuttwater, walking up the street of Tavistock, he could not have been more startled. It first occurred to him that Scott must have been sent down as a third Commissioner to assist at the investigation; and he would have been right glad to have known that this was the case, for he found that the management of Mr. Neverbend was no pastime. But he soon learnt that such relief was not at hand for him.

‘Well, Tudor, my boy,’ said he, ‘and how do you like the clotted cream and the thick ankles of the stout Devonshire lasses?’

‘I have neither tasted the one, nor seen the other,’ said Alaric. ‘As yet I have encountered nothing but the not very civil tongues, and not very clear brains of Cornish roughs.’

‘A Boeotian crew! but, nevertheless, they know on which side their bread is buttered — and in general it goes hard with them but they butter it on both sides. And how does the faithful Neverbend conduct himself? Talk of Boeotians, if any man ever was born in a foggy air, it must have been my friend Fidus.’

Alaric merely shrugged his shoulders, and laughed slightly. ‘But what on earth brings you down to Tavistock?’ said he.

‘Oh! I am a denizen of the place, naturalized, and all but settled; have vast interests here, and a future constituency. Let the Russells look well to themselves. The time is quickly coming when you will address me in the House with bitter sarcasm as the honourable but inconsistent member for Tavistock; egad, who knows but you may have to say Right Honourable?’

‘Oh! I did not know the wind blew in that quarter,’ said Alaric, not ill-pleased at the suggestion that he also, on some future day, might have a seat among the faithful Commons.

‘The wind blows from all quarters with me,’ said Undy; ‘but in the meantime I am looking out for shares.’

‘Will you come in and breakfast?’ asked the other.

‘What, with friend Fidus? no, thank’ee; I am not, by many degrees, honest enough to suit his book. He would be down on some little public peccadillo of mine before I had swallowed my first egg. Besides, I would not for worlds break the pleasure of your tête-à-tête.’

‘Will you come down after dinner?’

‘No; neither after dinner, nor before breakfast; not all the coffee, nor all the claret of the Bedford shall tempt me. Remember, my friend, you are paid for it; I am not.’

‘Well, then, good morning,’ said Alaric. ‘I must go in and face my fate, like a Briton.’

Undy went on for a few steps, and then returned, as though a sudden thought had struck him. ‘But, Tudor, I have bowels of compassion within me, though no pluck. I am willing to rescue you from your misery, though I will not partake it. Come up to me this evening, and I will give you a glass of brandy-punch. Your true miners never drink less generous tipple.’

‘How on earth am I to shake off this incubus of the Woods and Works?’

‘Shake him off? Why, make him drunk and put him to bed; or tell him at once that the natural iniquity of your disposition makes it necessary that you should spend a few hours of the day in the company of a sinner like myself. Tell him that his virtue is too heavy for the digestive organs of your unpractised stomach. Tell him what you will, but come. I myself am getting sick of those mining Vandals, though I am so used to dealing with them.’

Alaric promised that he would come, and then went in to breakfast. Undy also returned to his breakfast, well pleased with this first success in the little scheme which at present occupied his mind. The innocent young Commissioner little dreamt that the Honourable Mr. Scott had come all the way to Tavistock on purpose to ask him to drink brandy-punch at the Blue Dragon!

Another day went wearily and slowly on with Alaric and Mr. Neverbend. Tedious, never-ending statements had to be taken down in writing; the same things were repeated over and over again, and were as often contradicted; men who might have said in five words all that they had to say, would not be constrained to say it in less than five thousand, and each one seemed to think, or pretended to seem to think, that all the outer world and the Government were leagued together to defraud the interest to which he himself was specially attached. But this was not the worst of it. There were points which were as clear as daylight; but Tudor could not declare them to be so, as by doing so he was sure to elicit a different opinion from Mr. Neverbend.

‘I am not quite so clear on that point, Mr. Tudor,’ he would say.

Alaric, till experience made him wise, would attempt to argue it.

‘That is all very well, but I am not quite so sure of it. We will reserve the point, if you please,’ and so affairs went on darkly, no ray of light being permitted to shine in on the matter in dispute.

It was settled, however, before dinner, that they should both go down the Wheal Mary Jane on the following day. Neverbend had done what he could to keep this crowning honour of the inquiry altogether in his own hands, but he had found that in this respect Tudor was much too much for him.

Immediately after dinner Alaric announced that he was going to spend the evening with a friend.

‘A friend!’ said Neverbend, somewhat startled; ‘I did not know that you had any friends in Tavistock.’

‘Not a great many; but it so happened that I did meet a man I know, this morning, and promised to go to him in the evening. I hope you’ll excuse my leaving you?’

‘Oh! I don’t mind for myself,’ said Neverbend, ‘though, when men are together, it’s as well for them to keep together. But, Mr. Tudor ——’

‘Well?’ said Alaric, who felt growing within him a determination to put down at once anything like interference with his private hours.

‘Perhaps I ought not to mention it,’ said Neverbend, ‘but I do hope you’ll not get among mining people. Only think what our position here is.’

‘What on earth do you mean?’ said Alaric. ‘Do you think I shall be bribed over by either side because I choose to drink a glass of wine with a friend at another hotel?’

‘Bribed! No, I don’t think you’ll be bribed; but I think we should both keep ourselves absolutely free from all chance of being talked to on the subject, except before each other and before witnesses. I would not drink brandy-and-water at the Blue Dragon, before this report be written, even if my brother were there.’

‘Well, Mr. Neverbend, I am not so much afraid of myself. But wherever there are two men, there will be two opinions. So good night, if it so chance that you are in bed before my return.’

So Tudor went out, and Neverbend prepared himself to sit up for him. He would sooner have remained up all night than have gone to bed before his colleague came back.

Three days Alaric Tudor had now passed with Mr. Neverbend, and not only three days but three evenings also! A man may endure to be bored in the course of business through the day, but it becomes dreadful when the infliction is extended to post-prandial hours. It does not often occur that one is doomed to bear the same bore both by day and night; any change gives some ease; but poor Alaric for three days had had no change. He felt like a liberated convict as he stepped freely forth into the sweet evening air, and made his way through the town to the opposition inn.

Here he found Undy on the door-steps with a cigar in his mouth. ‘Here I am, waiting for you,’ said he. ‘You are fagged to death, I know, and we’ll get a mouthful of fresh air before we go upstairs,’— and so saying he put his arm through Alaric’s, and they strolled off through the suburbs of the town.

‘You don’t smoke,’ said Undy, with his cigar-case in his hand. ‘Well — I believe you are right — cigars cost a great deal of money, and can’t well do a man any real good. God Almighty could never have intended us to make chimneys of our mouths and noses. Does Fidus ever indulge in a weed?’

‘He never indulges in anything,’ said Alaric.

‘Except honesty,’ said the other, ‘and in that he is a beastly glutton. He gorges himself with it till all his faculties are overpowered and his mind becomes torpid. It’s twice worse than drinking. I wonder whether he’ll do a bit of speculation before he goes back to town.’

‘Who, Neverbend? — he never speculates!’

‘Why not? Ah, my fine fellow, you don’t know the world yet. Those sort of men, dull drones like Neverbend, are just the fellows who go the deepest. I’ll be bound he will not return without a few Mary Janes in his pocket-book. He’ll be a fool if he does, I know.’

‘Why, that’s the very mine we are down here about.’

‘And that’s the very reason why he’ll purchase Mary Janes. He has an opportunity of knowing their value. Oh, let Neverbend alone. He is not so young as you are, my dear fellow.’

‘Young or old, I think you mistake his character.’

‘Why, Tudor, what would you think now if he not only bought for himself, but was commissioned to buy by the very men who sent him down here?’

‘It would be hard to make me believe it.’

‘Ah! faith is a beautiful thing; what a pity that it never survives the thirtieth year; — except with women and fools.’

‘And have you no faith, Scott?’

‘Yes — much in myself — some little in Lord Palmerston, that is, in his luck; and a good deal in a bank-note. But I have none at all in Fidus Neverbend. What! have faith in a man merely because he tells me to have it! His method of obtaining it is far too easy.’

‘I trust neither his wit nor his judgement; but I don’t believe him to be a thief.’

‘Thief! I said nothing of thieves. He may, for aught I know, be just as good as the rest of the world; all I say is, that I believe him to be no better. But come, we must go back to the inn; there is an ally of mine coming to me; a perfect specimen of a sharp Cornish mining stockjobber — as vulgar a fellow as you ever met, and as shrewd. He won’t stay very long, so you need not be afraid of him.’

Alaric began to feel uneasy, and to think that there might by possibility be something in what Neverbend had said to him. He did not like the idea of meeting a Cornish stock-jobber in a familiar way over his brandy-punch, while engaged, as he now was, on the part of Government; he felt that there might be impropriety in it, and he would have been glad to get off if he could. But he felt ashamed to break his engagement, and thus followed Undy into the hotel.

‘Has Mr. Manylodes been here?’ said Scott, as he walked upstairs.

‘He’s in the bar now, sir,’ said the waiter.

‘Beg him to come up, then. In the bar! why, that man must have a bar within himself — the alcohol he consumes every day would be a tidy sale for a small public-house.’

Up they went, and Mr. Manylodes was not long in following them. He was a small man, more like an American in appearance than an Englishman. He had on a common black hat, a black coat, black waistcoat, and black trousers, thick boots, a coloured shirt, and very dirty hands. Though every article he wore was good, and most of them such as gentlemen wear, no man alive could have mistaken him for a gentleman. No man, conversant with the species to which he belonged, could have taken him for anything but what he was. As he entered the room, a faint, sickly, second-hand smell of alcohol pervaded the atmosphere.

‘Well, Manylodes,’ said Scott, ‘I’m glad to see you again. This is my friend, Mr. Tudor.’

‘Your servant, sir,’ said Manylodes, just touching his hat, without moving it from his head. ‘And how are you, Mr. Scott? I am glad to see you again in these parts, sir.’

‘And how’s trade? Come, Tudor, what will you drink? Manylodes, I know, takes brandy; their sherry is vile, and their claret worse; maybe they may have a fairish glass of port. And how is trade, Manylodes?’

‘We’re all as brisk as bees at present. I never knew things sharper. If you’ve brought a little money with you, now’s your time. But I tell you this, you’ll find it sharp work for the eyesight.’

‘Quick’s the word, I suppose.’

‘Lord love you! Quick! Why, a fellow must shave himself before he goes to bed if he wants to be up in time these days.’

‘I suppose so.’

‘Lord love you! why there was old Sam Weazle; never caught napping yet — why at Truro, last Monday, he bought up to 450 New Friendships, and before he was a-bed they weren’t worth, not this bottle of brandy. Well, old Sam was just bit by those Cambourne lads.’

‘And how did that happen?’

‘Why, the New Friendships certainly was very good while they lasted; just for three months they was the thing certainly. Why, it came up, sir, as if there weren’t no end of it, and just as clean as that half-crown — but I know’d there was an end coming.’

‘Water, I suppose,’ said Undy, sipping his toddy.

‘Them clean takes, Mr. Scott, they never lasts. There was water, but that weren’t the worst. Old Weazle knew of that; he calculated he’d back the metal agin the water, and so he bought all up he could lay his finger on. But the stuff was run out. Them Cambourne boys — what did they do? Why, they let the water in on purpose. By Monday night old Weazle knew it all, and then you may say it was as good as a play.’

‘And how did you do in the matter?’

‘Oh, I sold. I did very well — bought at £7 2s. 3d. and sold at £6 19s. 10 1/2d., and got my seven per cent, for the four months. But, Lord love you, them clean takes never lasts. I worn’t going to hang on. Here’s your health, Mr. Scott. Yours, Mr. —-, I didn’t just catch the gen’leman’s name;’ and without waiting for further information on the point, he finished his brandy-and-water.

‘So it’s all up with the New Friendships, is it?’ said Undy.

‘Up and down, Mr. Scott; every dog has his day; these Mary Janes will be going the same way some of them days. We’re all mortal;’ and with this moral comparison between the uncertainty of human life and the vicissitudes of the shares in which he trafficked, Mr. Manylodes proceeded to put some more sugar and brandy into his tumbler.

‘True, true — we are all mortal — Manylodes and Mary Janes; old friendships and New Friendships: while they last we must make the most we can of them; buy them cheap and sell them dear; and above all things get a good percentage,’

‘That’s the game, Mr. Scott; and I will say no man understands it better than yourself — keep the ball a-running — that’s your maxim. Are you going it deep in Mary Jane, Mr. Scott?’

‘Who? I! O no — she’s a cut above me now, I fear. The shares are worth any money now, I suppose.’

‘Worth any money! I think they are, Mr. Scott, but I believe ——’ and then bringing his chair close up to that of his aristocratic friend, resting his hands, one on Mr. Scott’s knee, and the other on his elbow, and breathing brandy into his ear, he whispered to him words of great significance.

‘I’ll leave you, Scott,’ said Alaric, who did not enjoy the society of Mr. Manylodes, and to whom the nature of the conversation was, in his present position, extremely irksome; ‘I must be back at the Bedford early.’

‘Early — why early? surely our honest friend can get himself to bed without your interference. Come, you don’t like the brandy toddy, nor I either. We’ll see what sort of a hand they are at making a bowl of bishop.’

‘Not for me, Scott.’

‘Yes, for you, man; surely you are not tied to that fellow’s apron-strings,’ he said, removing himself from the close contiguity of Mr. Manylodes, and speaking under his voice; ‘take my advice; if you once let that man think you fear him, you’ll never get the better of him.’

Alaric allowed himself to be persuaded and stayed.

‘I have just ten words of business to say to this fellow,’ continued Scott, ‘and then we will be alone.’

It was a lovely autumn evening, early in September, and Alaric sat himself at an open window, looking out from the back of the hotel on to the Brentor, with its singular parish church, built on its highest apex, while Undy held deep council with his friend of the mines. But from time to time, some word of moment found its way to Alaric’s ears, and made him also unconsciously fix his mind on the irritamenta malorum, which are dug from the bowels of the earth in those western regions.

‘Minting money, sir; it’s just minting money. There’s been no chance like it in my days. £4 12s. 6d. paid up; and they’ll be at £25 in Truro before sun sets on Saturday, Lord love you, Mr. Scott, now’s your time. If, as I hear, they —’ and then there was a very low whisper, and Alaric, who could not keep his eye altogether from Mr. Manylodes’ countenance, saw plainly that that worthy gentleman was talking of himself; and in spite of his better instincts, a desire came over him to know more of what they were discussing, and he could not keep from thinking that shares bought at £4 12s. 6d., and realizing £25, must be very nice property.

‘Well, I’ll manage it,’ said Scott, still in a sort of whisper, but audibly enough for Alaric to hear. ‘Forty, you say? I’ll take them at £5 1s. 1d. — very well;’ and he took out his pocket-book and made a memorandum. ‘Come, Tudor, here’s the bishop. We have done our business, so now we’ll enjoy ourselves. What, Manylodes, are you off?’

‘Lord love you, Mr. Scott, I’ve a deal to do before I get to my downy; and I don’t like those doctored tipples. Good night, Mr. Scott. I wishes you good night, sir;’ and making another slight reference to his hat, which had not been removed from his head during the whole interview, Mr. Manylodes took himself off.

‘There, now, is a specimen of a species of the genus homo, class Englishman, which is, I believe, known nowhere but in Cornwall.’

‘Cornwall and Devonshire, I suppose,’ said Alaric.

‘No; he is out of his true element here. If you want to see him in all the glory of his native county you should go west of Truro. From Truro to Hayle is the land of the Manylodes. And a singular species it is. But, Tudor, you’ll be surprised, I suppose, if I tell you that I have made a purchase for you.’

‘A purchase for me!’

‘Yes; I could not very well consult you before that fellow, and yet as the chance came in my way, I did not like to lose it. Come, the bishop ain’t so bad, is it, though it is doctored tipple?’ and he refilled Alaric’s glass.

‘But what have you purchased for me, Scott?’

‘Forty shares in the Mary Jane.’

‘Then you may undo the bargain again, for I don’t want them, and shall not take them.’

‘You need not be a bit uneasy, my dear fellow. I’ve bought them at a little over £5, and they’ll be saleable tomorrow at double the money — or at any rate tomorrow week. But what’s your objection to them?’

‘In the first place, I’ve got no money to buy shares.’

‘That’s just the reason why you should buy them; having no money, you can’t but want some; and here’s your way to make it. You can have no difficulty in raising £200.’

‘And in the next place, I should not think of buying mining shares, and more especially these, while I am engaged as I now am.’

‘Fal de ral, de ral, de ral! That’s all very fine, Mr. Commissioner; only you mistake your man; you think you are talking to Mr. Neverbend.’

‘Well, Scott, I shan’t have them.’

‘Just as you please, my dear fellow; there’s no compulsion. Only mark this; the ball is at your foot now, but it won’t remain there. ‘There is a tide in the affairs of men’— you know the rest; and you know also that ‘tide and time wait for no man.’ If you are contented with your two or three hundred a year in the Weights and Measures, God forbid that I should tempt you to higher thoughts — only in that case I have mistaken my man.’

‘I must be contented with it, if I can get nothing better,’ said Tudor, weakly.

‘Exactly; you must be contented — or rather you must put up with it — if you can get nothing better. That’s the meaning of contentment all the world over. You argue in a circle. You must be a mere clerk if you cannot do better than other mere clerks. But the fact of your having such an offer as that I now make you, is proof that you can do better than others; proves, in fact, that you need not be a mere clerk, unless you choose to remain so.’

‘Buying these shares might lose me all that I have got, and could not do more than put a hundred pounds or so in my pocket.’

‘Gammon —’

‘Could I go back and tell Sir Gregory openly that I had bought them?’

‘Why, Tudor, you are the youngest fish I ever met, sent out to swim alone in this wicked world of ours. Who the deuce talks openly of his speculations? Will Sir Gregory tell you what shares he buys? Is not every member of the House, every man in the Government, every barrister, parson, and doctor, that can collect a hundred pounds, are not all of them at the work? And do they talk openly of the matter? Does the bishop put it into his charge, or the parson into his sermon?’

‘But they would not be ashamed to tell their friends.’

‘Would not they? Oh! the Rev. Mr. Pickabit, of St. Judas Without, would not be ashamed to tell his bishop! But the long and the short of the thing is this; most men circumstanced as you are have no chance of doing anything good till they are forty or fifty, and then their energies are worn out. You have had tact enough to push yourself up early, and yet it seems you have not pluck enough to take the goods the gods provide you.’

‘The gods! — you mean the devils rather,’ said Alaric, who sat listening and drinking, almost unconsciously, his doctored tipple.

‘Call them what you will for me. Fortune has generally been esteemed a goddess, but misfortune a very devil. But, Tudor, you don’t know the world. Here is a chance in your way. Of course that keg of brandy who went out just now understands very well who you are. He wants to be civil to me, and he thinks it wise to be civil to you also. He has a hat full of these shares, and he tells me that, knowing my weakness, and presuming that you have the same, he bought a few extra this morning, thinking we might like them. Now, I have no hesitation in saying there is not a single man whom the Government could send down here, from Sir Gregory downwards, who could refuse the chance.’

‘I am quite sure that Neverbend ——’

‘Oh! for Heaven’s sake don’t choke me with Neverbend; the fools are fools, and will be so; they are used for their folly. I speak of men with brains. How do you think that such men as Hardlines, Vigil, and Mr. Estimate have got up in the world? Would they be where they are now, had they been contented with their salaries?’

‘They had private fortunes.’

‘Very private they must have been — I never heard of them. No; what fortunes they have they made. Two of them are in Parliament, and the other has a Government situation of £2,000 a year, with little or nothing to do. But they began life early, and never lost a chance.’

‘It is quite clear that that blackguard who was here just now thinks that he can influence my opinion by inducing me to have an interest in the matter.’

‘He had no such idea — nor have I. Do you think I would persuade you to such villany? Do you think I do not know you too well? Of course the possession of these shares can have no possible effect on your report, and is not expected to have any. But when men like you and me become of any note in the world, others, such as Manylodes, like to know that we are embarked in the same speculation with themselves. Why are members of Parliament asked to be directors, and vice-governors, and presidents, and guardians, of all the joint-stock societies that are now set agoing? Not because of their capital, for they generally have none; not for their votes, because one vote can be but of little use in any emergency. It is because the names of men of note are worth money. Men of note understand this, and enjoy the fat of the land accordingly. I want to see you among the number.’

’Twas thus the devil pleaded for the soul of Alaric Tudor; and, alas! he did not plead in vain. Let him but have a fair hearing, and he seldom does. ’Tis in this way that the truth of that awful mystery, the fall of man, comes home to us; that we cannot hear the devil plead, and resist the charm of his eloquence. To listen is to be lost. ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil!’ Let that petition come forth from a man’s heart, a true and earnest prayer, and he will be so led that he shall not hear the charmer, let him charm ever so wisely.

’Twas but a thin veil that the Hon. Undecimus Scott threw over the bait with which he fished for the honesty of Alaric Tudor, and yet it sufficed. One would say that a young man, fortified with such aspirations as those which glowed in Alaric’s breast, should have stood a longer siege; should have been able to look with clearer eyesight on the landmarks which divide honour from dishonour, integrity from fraud, and truth from falsehood. But he had never prayed to be delivered from evil. His desire had rather been that he might be led into temptation.

He had never so prayed — yet had he daily said his prayers at fitting intervals. On every returning Sunday had he gone through, with all the fitting forms, the ordinary worship of a Christian. Nor had he done this as a hypocrite. With due attention and a full belief he had weekly knelt at God’s temple, and given, if not his mind, at least his heart, to the service of his church. But the inner truth of the prayer which he repeated so often had not come home to him. Alas! how many of us from week to week call ourselves worms and dust and miserable sinners, describe ourselves as chaff for the winds, grass for the burning, stubble for the plough, as dirt and filth fit only to be trodden under foot, and yet in all our doings before the world cannot bring home to ourselves the conviction that we require other guidance than our own!

Alaric Tudor had sighed for permission to go forth among worldlings and there fight the world’s battle. Power, station, rank, wealth, all the good things which men earn by tact, diligence, and fortune combined, and which were so far from him at his outset in life, became daily more dear to his heart. And now his honourable friend twitted him with being a mere clerk! No, he was not, never had been, never would be such. Had he not already, in five or six short years, distanced his competitors, and made himself the favourite and friend of men infinitely above him in station? Was he not now here in Tavistock on a mission which proved that he was no mere clerk? Was not the fact of his drinking bishop in the familiar society of a lord’s son, and an ex-M.P., a proof of it?

It would be calumny on him to say that he had allowed Scott to make him tipsy on this occasion. He was far from being tipsy; but yet the mixture which he had been drinking had told upon his brain.

‘But, Undy,’ said he — he had never before called his honourable friend by his Christian name —‘but, Undy, if I take these shares, where am I to get the money to pay for them?

‘The chances are you may part with them before you leave Tavistock. If so, you will not have to pay for them. You will only have to pocket the difference.’

‘Or pay the loss.’

‘Or pay the loss. But there’s no chance of that. I’ll guarantee you against that.’

‘But I shan’t like to sell them. I shan’t choose to be trafficking in shares. Buying a few as an investment may, perhaps, be a different thing.’

‘Oh, Alaric, Alaric, to what a pass had your conscience come, when it could be so silenced!’

‘Well, I suppose you can raise a couple of hundred —£205 will cover the whole thing, commission and all; but, mind, I don’t advise you to keep them long — I shall take two months’ dividends, and then sell.’

‘Two hundred and five pounds,’ said Tudor, to whom the sum seemed anything but trifling; ‘and when must it be paid?’

‘Well, I can give Manylodes a cheque for the whole, dated this day week. You’ll be back in town before that. We must allow him £5 for the accommodation. I suppose you can pay the money in at my banker’s by that day?’

Alaric had some portion of the amount himself, and he knew that Norman had money by him; he felt also a half-drunken conviction that if Norman failed him, Captain Cuttwater would not let him want such a sum; and so he said that he could, and the bargain was completed.

As he went downstairs whistling with an affected ease, and a gaiety which, he by no means felt, Undy Scott leant back in his chair, and began to speculate whether his new purchase was worth the purchase-money. ‘He’s a sharp fellow; certainly, in some things, and may do well yet; but he’s uncommonly green. That, however, will wear off. I should not be surprised if he told Neverbend the whole transaction before this time tomorrow.’ And then Mr. Scott finished his cigar and went to bed.

When Alaric entered the sitting-room at the Bedford, he found Neverbend still seated at a table covered with official books and huge bundles of official papers. An enormous report was open before him, from which he was culling the latent sweets, and extracting them with a pencil. He glowered at Alaric with a severe suspicious eye, which seemed to accuse him at once of the deed which he had done.

‘You are very late,’ said Neverbend, ‘but I have not been sorry to be alone. I believe I have been able to embody in a rough draft the various points which we have hitherto discussed. I have just been five hours and a half at it;’ and Fidus looked at his watch; ‘five hours and forty minutes. To-morrow, perhaps, that is, if you are not going to your friend again, you’ll not object to make a fair copy ——’

‘Copy!’ shouted Alaric, in whose brain the open air had not diminished the effect of the bishop, and who remembered, with all the energy of pot valour, that he was not a mere clerk; ‘copy — bother; I’m going to bed, old fellow; and I advise you to do the same.’

And then, taking up a candlestick and stumbling somewhat awkwardly against a chair, Tudor went off to his room, waiting no further reply from his colleague.

Mr. Neverbend slowly put up his papers and followed him. ‘He is decidedly the worse for drink — decidedly so,’ said he to himself, as he pulled off his clothes. ‘What a disgrace to the Woods and Works — what a disgrace!’

And he resolved in his mind that he would be very early at the pit’s mouth. He would not be kept from his duty while a dissipated colleague collected his senses by the aid of soda-water.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01