'Not I, master!' cried Hugh. 'I don't say half I mean. I can't. I haven't got the gift. There are talkers enough among us; I'll be one of the doers.'
'Oh! you have joined those fellows then?' said Sir John, with an air of most profound indifference.
'Yes. I went up to the house you told me of; and got put down upon the muster. There was another man there, named Dennis--'
'Dennis, eh!' cried Sir John, laughing. 'Ay, ay! a pleasant fellow, I believe?'
'A roaring dog, master--one after my own heart--hot upon the matter too--red hot.'
'So I have heard,' replied Sir John, carelessly. 'You don't happen to know his trade, do you?'
'He wouldn't say,' cried Hugh. 'He keeps it secret.'
'Ha ha!' laughed Sir John. 'A strange fancy--a weakness with some persons--you'll know it one day, I dare swear.'
'We're intimate already,' said Hugh.
'Quite natural! And have been drinking together, eh?' pursued Sir John. 'Did you say what place you went to in company, when you left Lord George's?'
Hugh had not said or thought of saying, but he told him; and this inquiry being followed by a long train of questions, he related all that had passed both in and out of doors, the kind of people he had seen, their numbers, state of feeling, mode of conversation, apparent expectations and intentions. His questioning was so artfully contrived, that he seemed even in his own eyes to volunteer all this information rather than to have it wrested from him; and he was brought to this state of feeling so naturally, that when Mr Chester yawned at length and declared himself quite wearied out, he made a rough kind of excuse for having talked so much.
'There--get you gone,' said Sir John, holding the door open in his hand. 'You have made a pretty evening's work. I told you not to do this. You may get into trouble. You'll have an opportunity of revenging yourself on your proud friend Haredale, though, and for that, you'd hazard anything, I suppose?'
'I would,' retorted Hugh, stopping in his passage out and looking back; 'but what do I risk! What do I stand a chance of losing, master? Friends, home? A fig for 'em all; I have none; they are nothing to me. Give me a good scuffle; let me pay off old scores in a bold riot where there are men to stand by me; and then use me as you like--it don't matter much to me what the end is!'
'What have you done with that paper?' said Sir John.
'I have it here, master.'
'Drop it again as you go along; it's as well not to keep such things about you.'
Hugh nodded, and touching his cap with an air of as much respect as he could summon up, departed.
Sir John, fastening the doors behind him, went back to his dressing-room, and sat down once again before the fire, at which he gazed for a long time, in earnest meditation.
'This happens fortunately,' he said, breaking into a smile, 'and promises well. Let me see. My relative and I, who are the most Protestant fellows in the world, give our worst wishes to the Roman Catholic cause; and to Saville, who introduces their bill, I have a personal objection besides; but as each of us has himself for the first article in his creed, we cannot commit ourselves by joining with a very extravagant madman, such as this Gordon most undoubtedly is. Now really, to foment his disturbances in secret, through the medium of such a very apt instrument as my savage friend here, may further our real ends; and to express at all becoming seasons, in moderate and polite terms, a disapprobation of his proceedings, though we agree with him in principle, will certainly be to gain a character for honesty and uprightness of purpose, which cannot fail to do us infinite service, and to raise us into some importance. Good! So much for public grounds. As to private considerations, I confess that if these vagabonds WOULD make some riotous demonstration (which does not appear impossible), and WOULD inflict some little chastisement on Haredale as a not inactive man among his sect, it would be extremely agreeable to my feelings, and would amuse me beyond measure.