Bagnet? Surely!" The old man looks at him under his hand.
"Hope you're well, Mr. Bagnet? Fine man, Mr. George! Military air, sir!"
No chairs being offered, Mr. George brings one forward for Bagnet and one for himself. They sit down, Mr. Bagnet as if he had no power of bending himself, except at the hips, for that purpose.
"Judy," says Mr. Smallweed, "bring the pipe."
"Why, I don't know," Mr. George interposes, "that the young woman need give herself that trouble, for to tell you the truth, I am not inclined to smoke it to-day."
"Ain't you?" returns the old man. "Judy, bring the pipe."
"The fact is, Mr. Smallweed," proceeds George, "that I find myself in rather an unpleasant state of mind. It appears to me, sir, that your friend in the city has been playing tricks."
"Oh, dear no!" says Grandfather Smallweed. "He never does that!"
"Don't he? Well, I am glad to hear it, because I thought it might be HIS doing. This, you know, I am speaking of. This letter."
Grandfather Smallweed smiles in a very ugly way in recognition of the letter.
"What does it mean?" asks Mr. George.
"Judy," says the old man. "Have you got the pipe? Give it to me. Did you say what does it mean, my good friend?"
"Aye! Now, come, come, you know, Mr. Smallweed," urges the trooper, constraining himself to speak as smoothly and confidentially as he can, holding the open letter in one hand and resting the broad knuckles of the other on his thigh, "a good lot of money has passed between us, and we are face to face at the present moment, and are both well aware of the understanding there has always been. I am prepared to do the usual thing which I have done regularly and to keep this matter going. I never got a letter like this from you before, and I have been a little put about by it this morning, because here's my friend Matthew Bagnet, who, you know, had none of the money--"
"I DON'T know it, you know," says the old man quietly.
"Why, con-found you--it, I mean--I tell you so, don't I?"
"Oh, yes, you tell me so," returns Grandfather Smallweed. "But I don't know it."
"Well!" says the trooper, swallowing his fire. "I know it."
Mr. Smallweed replies with excellent temper, "Ah! That's quite another thing!" And adds, "But it don't matter. Mr. Bagnet's situation is all one, whether or no."
The unfortunate George makes a great effort to arrange the affair comfortably and to propitiate Mr. Smallweed by taking him upon his own terms.
"That's just what I mean. As you say, Mr. Smallweed, here's Matthew Bagnet liable to be fixed whether or no. Now, you see, that makes his good lady very uneasy in her mind, and me too, for whereas I'm a harum-scarum sort of a good-for-nought that more kicks than halfpence come natural to, why he's a steady family man, don't you see? Now, Mr. Smallweed," says the trooper, gaining confidence as he proceeds in his soldierly mode of doing business, "although you and I are good friends enough in a certain sort of a way, I am well aware that I can't ask you to let my friend Bagnet off entirely."
"Oh, dear, you are too modest. You can ASK me anything, Mr. George." (There is an ogreish kind of jocularity in Grandfather Smallweed to-day.)
"And you can refuse, you mean, eh? Or not you so much, perhaps, as your friend in the city? Ha ha ha!"
"Ha ha ha!" echoes Grandfather Smallweed. In such a very hard manner and with eyes so particularly green that Mr. Bagnet's natural gravity is much deepened by the contemplation of that venerable man.
"Come!" says the sanguine George. "I am glad to find we can be pleasant, because I want to arrange this pleasantly. Here's my friend Bagnet, and here am I. We'll settle the matter on the spot, if you please, Mr. Smallweed, in the usual way. And you'll ease my friend Bagnet's mind, and his family's mind, a good deal if you'll just mention to him what our understanding is."
Here some shrill spectre cries out in a mocking manner, "Oh, good gracious! Oh!" Unless, indeed, it be the sportive Judy, who is found to be silent when the startled visitors look round, but whose chin has received a recent toss, expressive of derision and contempt.