Until the judgment I expect is given. Now that's very creditable, you know. To confess in that way that he IS a little slow for human life. So delicate! Attending court the other day--I attend it regularly, with my documents--I taxed him with it, and he almost confessed. That is, I smiled at him from my bench, and HE smiled at me from his bench. But it's great good fortune, is it not? And Fitz- Jarndyce lays the money out for me to great advantage. Oh, I assure you to the greatest advantage!"
I congratulated her (as she addressed herself to me) upon this fortunate addition to her income and wished her a long continuance of it. I did not speculate upon the source from which it came or wonder whose humanity was so considerate. My guardian stood before me, contemplating the birds, and I had no need to look beyond him.
"And what do you call these little fellows, ma'am?" said he in his pleasant voice. "Have they any names?"
"I can answer for Miss Flite that they have," said I, "for she promised to tell us what they were. Ada remembers?"
Ada remembered very well.
"Did I?" said Miss Flite. "Who's that at my door? What are you listening at my door for, Krook?"
The old man of the house, pushing it open before him, appeared there with his fur cap in his hand and his cat at his heels.
"I warn't listening, Miss Flite," he said, "I was going to give a rap with my knuckles, only you're so quick!"
"Make your cat go down. Drive her away!" the old lady angrily exclaimed.
"Bah, bah! There ain't no danger, gentlefolks," said Mr. Krook, looking slowly and sharply from one to another until he had looked at all of us; "she'd never offer at the birds when I was here unless I told her to it."
"You will excuse my landlord," said the old lady with a dignified air. "M, quite M! What do you want, Krook, when I have company?"
"Hi!" said the old man. "You know I am the Chancellor."
"Well?" returned Miss Elite. "What of that?"
"For the Chancellor," said the old man with a chuckle, "not to be acquainted with a Jarndyce is queer, ain't it, Miss Flite? Mightn't I take the liberty? Your servant, sir. I know Jarndyce and Jarndyce a'most as well as you do, sir. I knowed old Squire Tom, sir. I never to my knowledge see you afore though, not even in court. Yet, I go there a mortal sight of times in the course of the year, taking one day with another."
"I never go there," said Mr. Jarndyce (which he never did on any consideration). "I would sooner go--somewhere else."
"Would you though?" returned Krook, grinning. "You're bearing hard upon my noble and learned brother in your meaning, sir, though perhaps it is but nat'ral in a Jarndyce. The burnt child, sir! What, you're looking at my lodger's birds, Mr. Jarndyce?" The old man had come by little and little into the room until he now touched my guardian with his elbow and looked close up into his face with his spectacled eyes. "It's one of her strange ways that she'll never tell the names of these birds if she can help it, though she named 'em all." This was in a whisper. "Shall I run 'em over, Flite?" he asked aloud, winking at us and pointing at her as she turned away, affecting to sweep the grate.
"If you like," she answered hurriedly.
The old man, looking up at the cages after another look at us, went through the list.
"Hope, Joy, Youth, Peace, Rest, Life, Dust, Ashes, Waste, Want, Ruin, Despair, Madness, Death, Cunning, Folly, Words, Wigs, Rags, Sheepskin, Plunder, Precedent, Jargon, Gammon, and Spinach. That's the whole collection," said the old man, "all cooped up together, by my noble and learned brother."
"This is a bitter wind!" muttered my guardian.
"When my noble and learned brother gives his judgment, they're to be let go free," said Krook, winking at us again. "And then," he added, whispering and grinning, "if that ever was to happen--which it won't--the birds that have never been caged would kill 'em."
"If ever the wind was in the east," said my guardian, pretending to look out of the window for a weathercock, "I think it's there to- day!"
We found it very difficult to get away from the house.