CHAPTER THE SECOND
'The first coach has not come in yet, has it, Tom?' inquired Mr. Gabriel Parsons, as he very complacently paced up and down the fourteen feet of gravel which bordered the 'lawn,' on the Saturday morning which had been fixed upon for the Beulah Spa jaunt.
'No, sir; I haven't seen it,' replied a gardener in a blue apron, who let himself out to do the ornamental for half-a-crown a day and his 'keep.'
'Time Tottle was down,' said Mr. Gabriel Parsons, ruminating--'Oh, here he is, no doubt,' added Gabriel, as a cab drove rapidly up the hill; and he buttoned his dressing-gown, and opened the gate to receive the expected visitor. The cab stopped, and out jumped a man in a coarse Petersham great-coat, whity-brown neckerchief, faded black suit, gamboge-coloured top-boots, and one of those large-crowned hats, formerly seldom met with, but now very generally patronised by gentlemen and costermongers.
'Mr. Parsons?' said the man, looking at the superscription of a note he held in his hand, and addressing Gabriel with an inquiring air.
'MY name is Parsons,' responded the sugar-baker.
'I've brought this here note,' replied the individual in the painted tops, in a hoarse whisper: 'I've brought this here note from a gen'lm'n as come to our house this mornin'.'
'I expected the gentleman at my house,' said Parsons, as he broke the seal, which bore the impression of her Majesty's profile as it is seen on a sixpence.
'I've no doubt the gen'lm'n would ha' been here, replied the stranger, 'if he hadn't happened to call at our house first; but we never trusts no gen'lm'n furder nor we can see him--no mistake about that there'--added the unknown, with a facetious grin; 'beg your pardon, sir, no offence meant, only--once in, and I wish you may--catch the idea, sir?'
Mr. Gabriel Parsons was not remarkable for catching anything suddenly, but a cold. He therefore only bestowed a glance of profound astonishment on his mysterious companion, and proceeded to unfold the note of which he had been the bearer. Once opened and the idea was caught with very little difficulty. Mr. Watkins Tottle had been suddenly arrested for 33l. 10s. 4d., and dated his communication from a lock-up house in the vicinity of Chancery- lane.
'Unfortunate affair this!' said Parsons, refolding the note.
'Oh! nothin' ven you're used to it,' coolly observed the man in the Petersham.
'Tom!' exclaimed Parsons, after a few minutes' consideration, 'just put the horse in, will you?--Tell the gentleman that I shall be there almost as soon as you are,' he continued, addressing the sheriff-officer's Mercury.
'Werry well,' replied that important functionary; adding, in a confidential manner, 'I'd adwise the gen'lm'n's friends to settle. You see it's a mere trifle; and, unless the gen'lm'n means to go up afore the court, it's hardly worth while waiting for detainers, you know. Our governor's wide awake, he is. I'll never say nothin' agin him, nor no man; but he knows what's o'clock, he does, uncommon.' Having delivered this eloquent, and, to Parsons, particularly intelligible harangue, the meaning of which was eked out by divers nods and winks, the gentleman in the boots reseated himself in the cab, which went rapidly off, and was soon out of sight. Mr. Gabriel Parsons continued to pace up and down the pathway for some minutes, apparently absorbed in deep meditation. The result of his cogitations seemed to be perfectly satisfactory to himself, for he ran briskly into the house; said that business had suddenly summoned him to town; that he had desired the messenger to inform Mr. Watkins Tottle of the fact; and that they would return together to dinner. He then hastily equipped himself for a drive, and mounting his gig, was soon on his way to the establishment of Mr. Solomon Jacobs, situate (as Mr. Watkins Tottle had informed him) in Cursitor-street, Chancery-lane.
When a man is in a violent hurry to get on, and has a specific object in view, the attainment of whi