"Cold and raw this morning, cold and raw!" Mr. Tulkinghorn warms before the bars, alternately, the palms and knuckles of his hands and looks (from behind that blind which is always down) at the trio sitting in a little semicircle before him.
"Now, I can feel what I am about" (as perhaps he can in two senses), "Mr. Smallweed." The old gentleman is newly shaken up by Judy to bear his part in the conversation. "You have brought our good friend the sergeant, I see."
"Yes, sir," returns Mr. Smallweed, very servile to the lawyer's wealth and influence.
"And what does the sergeant say about this business?"
"Mr. George," says Grandfather Smallweed with a tremulous wave of his shrivelled hand, "this is the gentleman, sir."
Mr. George salutes the gentleman but otherwise sits bolt upright and profoundly silent--very forward in his chair, as if the full complement of regulation appendages for a field-day hung about him.
Mr. Tulkinghorn proceeds, "Well, George--I believe your name is George?"
"It is so, Sir."
"What do you say, George?"
"I ask your pardon, sir," returns the trooper, "but I should wish to know what YOU say?"
"Do you mean in point of reward?"
"I mean in point of everything, sir."
This is so very trying to Mr. Smallweed's temper that he suddenly breaks out with "You're a brimstone beast!" and as suddenly asks pardon of Mr. Tulkinghorn, excusing himself for this slip of the tongue by saying to Judy, "I was thinking of your grandmother, my dear."
"I supposed, sergeant," Mr. Tulkinghorn resumes as he leans on one side of his chair and crosses his legs, "that Mr. Smallweed might have sufficiently explained the matter. It lies in the smallest compass, however. You served under Captain Hawdon at one time, and were his attendant in illness, and rendered him many little services, and were rather in his confidence, I am told. That is so, is it not?"
"Yes, sir, that is so," says Mr. George with military brevity.
"Therefore you may happen to have in your possession something-- anything, no matter what; accounts, instructions, orders, a letter, anything--in Captain Hawdon's writing. I wish to compare his writing with some that I have. If you can give me the opportunity, you shall be rewarded for your trouble. Three, four, five, guineas, you would consider handsome, I dare say."
"Noble, my dear friend!" cries Grandfather Smallweed, screwing up his eyes.
"If not, say how much more, in your conscience as a soldier, you can demand. There is no need for you to part with the writing, against your inclination--though I should prefer to have it."
Mr. George sits squared in exactly the same attitude, looks at the painted ceiling, and says never a word. The irascible Mr. Smallweed scratches the air.
"The question is," says Mr. Tulkinghorn in his methodical, subdued, uninterested way, "first, whether you have any of Captain Hawdon's writing?"
"First, whether I have any of Captain Hawdon's writing, sir," repeats Mr. George.
"Secondly, what will satisfy you for the trouble of producing it?"
"Secondly, what will satisfy me for the trouble of producing it, sir," repeats Mr. George.
"Thirdly, you can judge for yourself whether it is at all like that," says Mr. Tulkinghorn, suddenly handing him some sheets of written paper tied together.
"Whether it is at all like that, sir. Just so," repeats Mr. George.
All three repetitions Mr. George pronounces in a mechanical manner, looking straight at Mr. Tulkinghorn; nor does he so much as glance at the affidavit in Jarndyce and Jarndyce, that has been given to him for his inspection (though he still holds it in his hand), but continues to look at the lawyer with an air of troubled meditation.
"Well?" says Mr. Tulkinghorn. "What do you say?"
"Well, sir," replies Mr. George, rising erect and looking immense, "I would rather, if you'll excuse me, have nothing to do with this."
Mr. Tulkinghorn, outwardly quite undisturbed, demands, "Why not?"
"Why, sir," returns the trooper.