He understands his business.'
'He need,' replied Jonas; 'for of all the precious old dummies in appearance that I ever saw, he's about the worst. He's afraid of me, I think.'
'It's my belief,' said Tigg, 'that you are Poison to him. Nadgett! give me that towel!'
He had as little occasion for a towel as Jonas had for a start. But Nadgett brought it quickly; and, having lingered for a moment, fell back upon his old post by the fire.
'You see, my dear fellow,' resumed Tigg, 'you are too--what's the matter with your lips? How white they are!'
'I took some vinegar just now,' said Jonas. 'I had oysters for my breakfast. Where are they white?' he added, muttering an oath, and rubbing them upon his handkerchief. 'I don't believe they ARE white.'
'Now I look again, they are not,' replied his friend. 'They are coming right again.'
'Say what you were going to say,' cried Jonas angrily, 'and let my face be! As long as I can show my teeth when I want to (and I can do that pretty well), the colour of my lips is not material.'
'Quite true,' said Tigg. 'I was only going to say that you are too quick and active for our friend. He is too shy to cope with such a man as you, but does his duty well. Oh, very well! But what is a light sleeper?'
'Hang a light sleeper!' exclaimed Jonas pettishly.
'No, no,' interrupted Tigg. 'No. We'll not do that.'
'A light sleeper ain't a heavy one,' said Jonas in his sulky way; 'don't sleep much, and don't sleep well, and don't sleep sound.'
'And dreams,' said Tigg, 'and cries out in an ugly manner; and when the candle burns down in the night, is in an agony; and all that sort of thing. I see!'
They were silent for a little time. Then Jonas spoke:
'Now we've done with child's talk, I want to have a word with you. I want to have a word with you before we meet up yonder to-day. I am not satisfied with the state of affairs.'
'Not satisfied!' cried Tigg. 'The money comes in well.'
'The money comes in well enough,' retorted Jonas, 'but it don't come out well enough. It can't be got at easily enough. I haven't sufficient power; it is all in your hands. Ecod! what with one of your by-laws, and another of your by-laws, and your votes in this capacity, and your votes in that capacity, and your official rights, and your individual rights, and other people's rights who are only you again, there are no rights left for me. Everybody else's rights are my wrongs. What's the use of my having a voice if it's always drowned? I might as well be dumb, and it would be much less aggravating. I'm not a-going to stand that, you know.'
'No!' said Tigg in an insinuating tone.
'No!' returned Jonas, 'I'm not indeed. I'll play old Gooseberry with the office, and make you glad to buy me out at a good high figure, if you try any of your tricks with me.'
'I give you my honour--' Montague began.
'Oh! confound your honour,' interrupted Jonas, who became more coarse and quarrelsome as the other remonstrated, which may have been a part of Mr Montague's intention; 'I want a little more control over the money. You may have all the honour, if you like; I'll never bring you to book for that. But I'm not a-going to stand it, as it is now. If you should take it into your honourable head to go abroad with the bank, I don't see much to prevent you. Well! That won't do. I've had some very good dinners here, but they'd come too dear on such terms; and therefore, that won't do.'
'I am unfortunate to find you in this humour,' said Tigg, with a remarkable kind of smile; 'for I was going to propose to you--for your own advantage; solely for your own advantage--that you should venture a little more with us.'
'Was you, by G--?' said Jonas, with a short laugh.
'Yes. And to suggest,' pursued Montague, 'that surely you have friends; indeed, I know you have; who would answer our purpose admirably, and whom we should be delighted to receive.'
'How kind of you! You'd be delighted to receive 'em, would you?' said Jonas, bantering.