Mix for yourself. And make haste.'
Dick complied, his eyes wandering all the time from the temple on the table, which seemed to do everything, to the great trunk which seemed to hold everything. The lodger took his breakfast like a man who was used to work these miracles, and thought nothing of them.
'The man of the house is a lawyer, is he not?' said the lodger.
Dick nodded. The rum was amazing.
'The woman of the house--what's she?'
'A dragon,' said Dick.
The single gentleman, perhaps because he had met with such things in his travels, or perhaps because he WAS a single gentleman, evinced no surprise, but merely inquired 'Wife or Sister?'-- 'Sister,' said Dick.--'So much the better,' said the single gentleman, 'he can get rid of her when he likes.'
'I want to do as I like, young man,' he added after a short silence; 'to go to bed when I like, get up when I like, come in when I like, go out when I like--to be asked no questions and be surrounded by no spies. In this last respect, servants are the devil. There's only one here.'
'And a very little one,' said Dick.
'And a very little one,' repeated the lodger. 'Well, the place will suit me, will it?'
'Yes,' said Dick.
'Sharks, I suppose?' said the lodger.
Dick nodded assent, and drained his glass.
'Let them know my humour,' said the single gentleman, rising. 'If they disturb me, they lose a good tenant. If they know me to be that, they know enough. If they try to know more, it's a notice to quit. It's better to understand these things at once. Good day.'
'I beg your pardon,' said Dick, halting in his passage to the door, which the lodger prepared to open. 'When he who adores thee has left but the name--'
'What do you mean?'
'--But the name,' said Dick--'has left but the name--in case of letters or parcels--'
'I never have any,' returned the lodger.
'Or in the case anybody should call.'
'Nobody ever calls on me.'
'If any mistake should arise from not having the name, don't say it was my fault, Sir,' added Dick, still lingering.--'Oh blame not the bard--'
'I'll blame nobody,' said the lodger, with such irascibility that in a moment Dick found himself on the staircase, and the locked door between them.
Mr Brass and Miss Sally were lurking hard by, having been, indeed, only routed from the keyhole by Mr Swiveller's abrupt exit. As their utmost exertions had not enabled them to overhear a word of the interview, however, in consequence of a quarrel for precedence, which, though limited of necessity to pushes and pinches and such quiet pantomime, had lasted the whole time, they hurried him down to the office to hear his account of the conversation.
This Mr Swiveller gave them--faithfully as regarded the wishes and character of the single gentleman, and poetically as concerned the great trunk, of which he gave a description more remarkable for brilliancy of imagination than a strict adherence to truth; declaring, with many strong asseverations, that it contained a specimen of every kind of rich food and wine, known in these times, and in particular that it was of a self-acting kind and served up whatever was required, as he supposed by clock-work. He also gave them to understand that the cooking apparatus roasted a fine piece of sirloin of beef, weighing about six pounds avoir-dupoise, in two minutes and a quarter, as he had himself witnessed, and proved by his sense of taste; and further, that, however the effect was produced, he had distinctly seen water boil and bubble up when the single gentleman winked; from which facts he (Mr Swiveller) was led to infer that the lodger was some great conjuror or chemist, or both, whose residence under that roof could not fail at some future days to shed a great credit and distinction on the name of Brass, and add a new interest to the history of Bevis Marks.
There was one point which Mr Swiveller deemed it unnecessary to enlarge upon, and that was the fact of the modest quencher, which, by reason of its intrinsic strength and its coming close upon the heels of the temperate beverage he had discussed at dinner, awakened a slight degree of fever, and rendered necessary two or three other modest quenchers at the public-house in the course of the evening.