"Well!" says Mr. George, smoking on. "It wouldn't have been much to his advantage to have been clapped into prison by the whole bill and judgment trade of London."
"How do you know that? Some of his rich relations might have paid his debts or compounded for 'em. Besides, he had taken US in. He owed us immense sums all round. I would sooner have strangled him than had no return. If I sit here thinking of him," snarls the old man, holding up his impotent ten fingers, "I want to strangle him now." And in a sudden access of fury, he throws the cushion at the unoffending Mrs. Smallweed, but it passes harmlessly on one side of her chair.
"I don't need to be told," returns the trooper, taking his pipe from his lips for a moment and carrying his eyes back from following the progress of the cushion to the pipe-bowl which is burning low, "that he carried on heavily and went to ruin. I have been at his right hand many a day when he was charging upon ruin full-gallop. I was with him when he was sick and well, rich and poor. I laid this hand upon him after he had run through everything and broken down everything beneath him--when he held a pistol to his head."
"I wish he had let it off," says the benevolent old man, "and blown his head into as many pieces as he owed pounds!"
"That would have been a smash indeed," returns the trooper coolly; "any way, he had been young, hopeful, and handsome in the days gone by, and I am glad I never found him, when he was neither, to lead to a result so much to his advantage. That's reason number one."
"I hope number two's as good?" snarls the old man.
"Why, no. It's more of a selfish reason. If I had found him, I must have gone to the other world to look. He was there."
"How do you know he was there?"
"He wasn't here."
"How do you know he wasn't here?"
"Don't lose your temper as well as your money," says Mr. George, calmly knocking the ashes out of his pipe. "He was drowned long before. I am convinced of it. He went over a ship's side. Whether intentionally or accidentally, I don't know. Perhaps your friend in the city does. Do you know what that tune is, Mr. Smallweed?" he adds after breaking off to whistle one, accompanied on the table with the empty pipe.
"Tune!" replied the old man. "No. We never have tunes here."
"That's the Dead March in Saul. They bury soldiers to it, so it's the natural end of the subject. Now, if your pretty granddaughter --excuse me, miss--will condescend to take care of this pipe for two months, we shall save the cost of one next time. Good evening, Mr. Smallweed!"
"My dear friend!" the old man gives him both his hands.
"So you think your friend in the city will be hard upon me if I fall in a payment?" says the trooper, looking down upon him like a giant.
"My dear friend, I am afraid he will," returns the old man, looking up at him like a pygmy.
Mr. George laughs, and with a glance at Mr. Smallweed and a parting salutation to the scornful Judy, strides out of the parlour, clashing imaginary sabres and other metallic appurtenances as he goes.
"You're a damned rogue," says the old gentleman, making a hideous grimace at the door as he shuts it. "But I'll lime you, you dog, I'll lime you!"
After this amiable remark, his spirit soars into those enchanting regions of reflection which its education and pursuits have opened to it, and again he and Mrs. Smallweed while away the rosy hours, two unrelieved sentinels forgotten as aforesaid by the Black Serjeant.
While the twain are faithful to their post, Mr. George strides through the streets with a massive kind of swagger and a grave- enough face. It is eight o'clock now, and the day is fast drawing in. He stops hard by Waterloo Bridge and reads a playbill, decides to go to Astley's Theatre. Being there, is much delighted with the horses and the feats of strength; looks at the weapons with a critical eye; disapproves of the combats as giving evidences of unskilful swordsmanship; but is touched home by the sentiments.