He has had visitors to-dayhumph? said Gabriel, slyly.
Yes. Old Mr Chester has been here ever since we sent for him, and had not been gone many minutes when you knocked.
No ladies? said Gabriel, elevating his eyebrows and looking disappointed.
A letter, replied the widow.
Come. Thats better than nothing! replied the locksmith. Who was the bearer?
Barnaby, of course.
Barnabys a jewel! said Varden; and comes and goes with ease where we who think ourselves much wiser would make but a poor hand of it. He is not out wandering, again, I hope?
Thank Heaven he is in his bed; having been up all night, as you know, and on his feet all day. He was quite tired out. Ah, neighbour, if I could but see him oftener soif I could but tame down that terrible restlessness
In good time, said the locksmith, kindly, in good timedont be down-hearted. To my mind he grows wiser every day.
The widow shook her head. And yet, though she knew the locksmith sought to cheer her, and spoke from no conviction of his own, she was glad to hear even this praise of her poor benighted son.
He will be a cute man yet, resumed the locksmith. Take care, when we are growing old and foolish, Barnaby doesnt put us to the blush, thats all. But our other friend, he added, looking under the table and about the floorsharpest and cunningest of all the sharp and cunning oneswheres he?
In Barnabys room, rejoined the widow, with a faint smile.
Ah! Hes a knowing blade! said Varden, shaking his head. I should be sorry to talk secrets before him. Oh! Hes a deep customer. Ive no doubt he can read, and write, and cast accounts if he chooses. What was that? Him tapping at the door?
No, returned the widow. It was in the street, I think. Hark! Yes. There again! Tis some one knocking softly at the shutter. Who can it be!
They had been speaking in a low tone, for the invalid lay overhead, and the walls and ceilings being thin and poorly built, the sound of their voices might otherwise have disturbed his slumber. The party without, whoever it was, could have stood close to the shutter without hearing anything spoken; and, seeing the light through the chinks and finding all so quiet, might have been persuaded that only one person was there.
Some thief or ruffian maybe, said the locksmith. Give me the light.
No, no, she returned hastily. Such visitors have never come to this poor dwelling. Do you stay here. Youre within call, at the worst. I would rather go myselfalone.
Why? said the locksmith, unwillingly relinquishing the candle he had caught up from the table.
BecauseI dont know whybecause the wish is so strong upon me, she rejoined. There againdo not detain me, I beg of you!
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