'But I am to give it to himself, if you please.'
The excessive audacity of this retort so overpowered Mr Chuckster, and so moved his tender regard for his friend's honour, that he declared, if he were not restrained by official considerations, he must certainly have annihilated Kit upon the spot; a resentment of the affront which he did consider, under the extraordinary circumstances of aggravation attending it, could but have met with the proper sanction and approval of a jury of Englishmen, who, he had no doubt, would have returned a verdict of justifiable Homicide, coupled with a high testimony to the morals and character of the Avenger. Mr Swiveller, without being quite so hot upon the matter, was rather shamed by his friend's excitement, and not a little puzzled how to act (Kit being quite cool and good-humoured), when the single gentleman was heard to call violently down the stairs.
'Didn't I see somebody for me, come in?' cried the lodger.
'Yes, Sir,' replied Dick. 'Certainly, Sir.'
'Then where is he?' roared the single gentleman.
'He's here, sir,' rejoined Mr Swiveller. 'Now young man, don't you hear you're to go up-stairs? Are you deaf?'
Kit did not appear to think it worth his while to enter into any altercation, but hurried off and left the Glorious Apollos gazing at each other in silence.
'Didn't I tell you so?' said Mr Chuckster. 'What do you think of that?'
Mr Swiveller being in the main a good-natured fellow, and not perceiving in the conduct of Kit any villany of enormous magnitude, scarcely knew what answer to return. He was relieved from his perplexity, however, by the entrance of Mr Sampson and his sister, Sally, at sight of whom Mr Chuckster precipitately retired.
Mr Brass and his lovely companion appeared to have been holding a consultation over their temperate breakfast, upon some matter of great interest and importance. On the occasion of such conferences, they generally appeared in the office some half an hour after their usual time, and in a very smiling state, as though their late plots and designs had tranquillised their minds and shed a light upon their toilsome way. In the present instance, they seemed particularly gay; Miss Sally's aspect being of a most oily kind, and Mr Brass rubbing his hands in an exceedingly jocose and light-hearted manner. 'Well, Mr Richard,' said Brass. 'How are we this morning? Are we pretty fresh and cheerful sir--eh, Mr Richard?'
'Pretty well, sir,' replied Dick.
'That's well,' said Brass. 'Ha ha! We should be as gay as larks, Mr Richard--why not? It's a pleasant world we live in sir, a very pleasant world. There are bad people in it, Mr Richard, but if there were no bad people, there would be no good lawyers. Ha ha! Any letters by the post this morning, Mr Richard?'
Mr Swiveller answered in the negative.
'Ha!' said Brass, 'no matter. If there's little business to-day, there'll be more to-morrow. A contented spirit, Mr Richard, is the sweetness of existence. Anybody been here, sir?'
'Only my friend'--replied Dick. '"May we ne'er want a--'
'Friend,' Brass chimed in quickly, 'or a bottle to give him.' Ha ha! That's the way the song runs, isn't it? A very good song, Mr Richard, very good. I like the sentiment of it. Ha ha! Your friend's the young man from Witherden's office I think--yes--May we ne'er want a-- Nobody else at all, been, Mr Richard?'
'Only somebody to the lodger,' replied Mr Swiveller.
'Oh indeed!' cried Brass. 'Somebody to the lodger eh? Ha ha! May we ne'er want a friend, or a-- Somebody to the lodger, eh, Mr Richard?'
'Yes,' said Dick, a little disconcerted by the excessive buoyancy of spirits which his employer displayed. 'With him now.'
'With him now!' cried Brass; 'Ha ha! There let 'em be, merry and free, toor rul rol le. Eh, Mr Richard? Ha ha!'
'Oh certainly,' replied Dick.
'And who,' said Brass, shuffling among his papers, 'who is the lodger's visitor--not a lady visitor, I hope, eh, Mr Richard? The morals of the Marks you know, sir--"when lovely women stoops to folly"--and all that--eh, Mr Richard?'
'Another young man, who belongs to Witherden's too, or half belongs there,' returned Richard.