'If that's enough,' said Montague, 'I will propose it at the Board to-day, in my capacity as chairman.'
The secretary smiled again; laughed, indeed, this time; and said, rubbing his nose slily with one end of the portfolio:
'It was a capital thought, wasn't it?'
'What was a capital thought, David?' Mr Montague inquired.
'The Anglo-Bengalee,' tittered the secretary.
'The Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan and Life Assurance Company is rather a capital concern, I hope, David,' said Montague.
'Capital indeed!' cried the secretary, with another laugh--' in one sense.'
'In the only important one,' observed the chairman; 'which is number one, David.'
'What,' asked the secretary, bursting into another laugh, 'what will be the paid up capital, according to the next prospectus?'
'A figure of two, and as many oughts after it as the printer can get into the same line,' replied his friend. 'Ha, ha!'
At this they both laughed; the secretary so vehemently, that in kicking up his feet, he kicked the apron open, and nearly started Cauliflower's brother into an oyster shop; not to mention Mr Bailey's receiving such a sudden swing, that he held on for a moment quite a young Fame, by one strap and no legs.
'What a chap you are!' exclaimed David admiringly, when this little alarm had subsided.
'Say, genius, David, genius.'
'"Well, upon my soul, you ARE a genius then,' said David. 'I always knew you had the gift of the gab, of course; but I never believed you were half the man you are. How could I?'
'I rise with circumstances, David. That's a point of genius in itself,' said Tigg. 'If you were to lose a hundred pound wager to me at this minute David, and were to pay it (which is most confoundedly improbable), I should rise, in a mental point of view, directly.'
It is due to Mr Tigg to say that he had really risen with his opportunities; and, peculating on a grander scale, he had become a grander man altogether.
'Ha, ha,' cried the secretary, laying his hand, with growing familiarity, upon the chairman's arm. 'When I look at you, and think of your property in Bengal being--ha, ha, ha!--'
The half-expressed idea seemed no less ludicrous to Mr Tigg than to his friend, for he laughed too, heartily.
'--Being,' resumed David, 'being amenable--your property in Bengal being amenable--to all claims upon the company; when I look at you and think of that, you might tickle me into fits by waving the feather of a pen at me. Upon my soul you might!'
'It a devilish fine property,' said Tigg Montague, 'to be amenable to any claims. The preserve of tigers alone is worth a mint of money, David.'
David could only reply in the intervals of his laughter, 'Oh, what a chap you are!' and so continued to laugh, and hold his sides, and wipe his eyes, for some time, without offering any other observation.
'A capital idea?' said Tigg, returning after a time to his companion's first remark; 'no doubt it was a capital idea. It was my idea.'
'No, no. It was my idea,' said David. 'Hang it, let a man have some credit. Didn't I say to you that I'd saved a few pounds?--'
'You said! Didn't I say to you,' interposed Tigg, 'that I had come into a few pounds?'
'Certainly you did,' returned David, warmly, 'but that's not the idea. Who said, that if we put the money together we could furnish an office, and make a show?'
'And who said,' retorted Mr Tigg, 'that, provided we did it on a sufficiently large scale, we could furnish an office and make a show, without any money at all? Be rational, and just, and calm, and tell me whose idea was that.'
'Why, there,' David was obliged to confess, 'you had the advantage of me, I admit. But I don't put myself on a level with you. I only want a little credit in the business.'
'All the credit you deserve to have,' said Tigg.
'The plain work of the company, David--figures, books, circulars, advertisements, pen, ink, and paper, sealing-wax and wafers--is admirably done by you. You are a first-rate groveller.