'No,' he said. 'Our roads diverge--widely, as you know. For the present, I shall remain here.'
'You will be hipped, Haredale; you will be miserable, melancholy, utterly wretched,' returned the other. 'It's a place of the very last description for a man of your temper. I know it will make you very miserable.'
'Let it,' said Mr Haredale, sitting down; 'and thrive upon the thought. Good night!'
Feigning to be wholly unconscious of the abrupt wave of the hand which rendered this farewell tantamount to a dismissal, Mr Chester retorted with a bland and heartfelt benediction, and inquired of Gabriel in what direction HE was going.
'Yours, sir, would be too much honour for the like of me,' replied the locksmith, hesitating.
'I wish you to remain here a little while, Varden,' said Mr Haredale, without looking towards them. 'I have a word or two to say to you.'
'I will not intrude upon your conference another moment,' said Mr Chester with inconceivable politeness. 'May it be satisfactory to you both! God bless you!' So saying, and bestowing upon the locksmith a most refulgent smile, he left them.
'A deplorably constituted creature, that rugged person,' he said, as he walked along the street; 'he is an atrocity that carries its own punishment along with it--a bear that gnaws himself. And here is one of the inestimable advantages of having a perfect command over one's inclinations. I have been tempted in these two short interviews, to draw upon that fellow, fifty times. Five men in six would have yielded to the impulse. By suppressing mine, I wound him deeper and more keenly than if I were the best swordsman in all Europe, and he the worst. You are the wise man's very last resource,' he said, tapping the hilt of his weapon; 'we can but appeal to you when all else is said and done. To come to you before, and thereby spare our adversaries so much, is a barbarian mode of warfare, quite unworthy of any man with the remotest pretensions to delicacy of feeling, or refinement.'
He smiled so very pleasantly as he communed with himself after this manner, that a beggar was emboldened to follow for alms, and to dog his footsteps for some distance. He was gratified by the circumstance, feeling it complimentary to his power of feature, and as a reward suffered the man to follow him until he called a chair, when he graciously dismissed him with a fervent blessing.
'Which is as easy as cursing,' he wisely added, as he took his seat, 'and more becoming to the face.--To Clerkenwell, my good creatures, if you please!' The chairmen were rendered quite vivacious by having such a courteous burden, and to Clerkenwell they went at a fair round trot.
Alighting at a certain point he had indicated to them upon the road, and paying them something less than they expected from a fare of such gentle speech, he turned into the street in which the locksmith dwelt, and presently stood beneath the shadow of the Golden Key. Mr Tappertit, who was hard at work by lamplight, in a corner of the workshop, remained unconscious of his presence until a hand upon his shoulder made him start and turn his head.
'Industry,' said Mr Chester, 'is the soul of business, and the keystone of prosperity. Mr Tappertit, I shall expect you to invite me to dinner when you are Lord Mayor of London.'
'Sir,' returned the 'prentice, laying down his hammer, and rubbing his nose on the back of a very sooty hand, 'I scorn the Lord Mayor and everything that belongs to him. We must have another state of society, sir, before you catch me being Lord Mayor. How de do, sir?'
'The better, Mr Tappertit, for looking into your ingenuous face once more. I hope you are well.'
'I am as well, sir,' said Sim, standing up to get nearer to his ear, and whispering hoarsely, 'as any man can be under the aggrawations to which I am exposed. My life's a burden to me. If it wasn't for wengeance, I'd play at pitch and toss with it on the losing hazard.'
'Is Mrs Varden at home?' said Mr Chester.
'Sir,' returned Sim, eyeing him over with a look of concentrated expression,--'she is.