'But!--After a long time when I have not been able to find that he is here in Londra, some one tells me of a soldier with white hair-- hey?--not hair like this that he carries--white--who lives retired secrettementally, in a certain place. But!--' with another rest upon the word, 'who sometimes in the after-dinner, walks, and smokes. It is necessary, as they say in Italy (and as they know, poor people), to have patience. I have patience. I ask where is this certain place. One. believes it is here, one believes it is there. Eh well! It is not here, it is not there. I wait patientissamentally. At last I find it. Then I watch; then I hide, until he walks and smokes. He is a soldier with grey hair-- But!--' a very decided rest indeed, and a very vigorous play from side to side of the back-handed forefinger--'he is also this man that you see.'
It was noticeable, that, in his old habit of submission to one who had been at the trouble of asserting superiority over him, he even then bestowed upon Rigaud a confused bend of his head, after thus pointing him out.
'Eh well, Signore!' he cried in conclusion, addressing Arthur again. 'I waited for a good opportunity. I writed some words to Signor Panco,' an air of novelty came over Mr Pancks with this designation, 'to come and help. I showed him, Rigaud, at his window, to Signor Panco, who was often the spy in the day. I slept at night near the door of the house. At last we entered, only this to-day, and now you see him! As he would not come up in presence of the illustrious Advocate,' such was Mr Baptist's honourable mention of Mr Rugg, 'we waited down below there, together, and Signor Panco guarded the street.'
At the close of this recital, Arthur turned his eyes upon the impudent and wicked face. As it met his, the nose came down over the moustache and the moustache went up under the nose. When nose and moustache had settled into their places again, Monsieur Rigaud loudly snapped his fingers half-a-dozen times; bending forward to jerk the snaps at Arthur, as if they were palpable missiles which he jerked into his face.
'Now, Philosopher!' said Rigaud.'What do you want with me?'
'I want to know,' returned Arthur, without disguising his abhorrence, 'how you dare direct a suspicion of murder against my mother's house?'
'Dare!' cried Rigaud. 'Ho, ho! Hear him! Dare? Is it dare? By Heaven, my small boy, but you are a little imprudent!'
'I want that suspicion to be cleared away,' said Arthur. 'You shall be taken there, and be publicly seen. I want to know, moreover, what business you had there when I had a burning desire to fling you down-stairs. Don't frown at me, man! I have seen enough of you to know that you are a bully and coward. I need no revival of my spirits from the effects of this wretched place to tell you so plain a fact, and one that you know so well.'
White to the lips, Rigaud stroked his moustache, muttering, 'By Heaven, my small boy, but you are a little compromising of my lady, your respectable mother'--and seemed for a minute undecided how to act. His indecision was soon gone. He sat himself down with a threatening swagger, and said:
'Give me a bottle of wine. You can buy wine here. Send one of your madmen to get me a bottle of wine. I won't talk to you without wine. Come! Yes or no?'
'Fetch him what he wants, Cavalletto,' said Arthur, scornfully, producing the money.
'Contraband beast,' added Rigaud, 'bring Port wine! I'll drink nothing but Porto-Porto.'
The contraband beast, however, assuring all present, with his significant finger, that he peremptorily declined to leave his post at the door, Signor Panco offered his services. He soon returned with the bottle of wine: which, according to the custom of the place, originating in a scarcity of corkscrews among the Collegians (in common with a scarcity of much else), was already opened for use.
'Madman! A large glass,' said Rigaud.
Signor Panco put a tumbler before him; not without a visible conflict of feeling on the question of throwing it at his head.