The secretary put his hand before his eyes to shade them from the glare of the lamp, and for some moments looked at Hugh with a frowning brow, as if he remembered to have seen him lately, but could not call to mind where, or on what occasion. His uncertainty was very brief, for before Hugh had spoken a word, he said, as his countenance cleared up, Aye, Aye, I recollect. Its quite right, John, you neednt wait. Dont go, Dennis.
Your servant, master, said Hugh, as Grueby disappeared.
Yours, friend, returned the secretary in his smoothest manner. What brings you here? We left nothing behind us, I hope?
Hugh gave a short laugh, and thrusting his hand into his breast, produced one of the handbills, soiled and dirty from lying out of doors all night, which he laid upon the secretarys desk after flattening it upon his knee, and smoothing out the wrinkles with his heavy palm.
Nothing but that, master. It fell into good hands, you see.
What is this! said Gashford, turning it over with an air of perfectly natural surprise. Where did you get it from, my good fellow; what does it mean? I dont understand this at all.
A little disconcerted by this reception, Hugh looked from the secretary to Dennis, who had risen and was standing at the table too, observing the stranger by stealth, and seeming to derive the utmost satisfaction from his manners and appearance. Considering himself silently appealed to by this action, Mr Dennis shook his head thrice, as if to say of Gashford, No. He dont know anything at all about it. I know he dont. Ill take my oath he dont; and hiding his profile from Hugh with one long end of his frowzy neckerchief, nodded and chuckled behind this screen in extreme approval of the secretarys proceedings.
It tells the man that finds it, to come here, dont it? asked Hugh. Im no scholar, myself, but I showed it to a friend, and he said it did.
It certainly does, said Gashford, opening his eyes to their utmost width; really this is the most remarkable circumstance I have ever known. How did you come by this piece of paper, my good friend?
Muster Gashford, wheezed the hangman under his breath, agin all Newgate!
Whether Hugh heard him, or saw by his manner that he was being played upon, or perceived the secretarys drift of himself, he came in his blunt way to the point at once.
Here! he said, stretching out his hand and taking it back; never mind the bill, or what it says, or what it dont say. You dont know anything about it, master,no more do I,no more does he, glancing at Dennis. None of us know what it means, or where it comes from: theres an end of that. Now I want to make one against the Catholics, Im a No-Popery man, and ready to be sworn in. Thats what Ive come here for.
Put him down on the roll, Muster Gashford, said Dennis approvingly. Thats the way to go to workright to the end at once, and no palaver.
Whats the use of shooting wide of the mark, eh, old boy! cried Hugh.
My sentiments all over! rejoined the hangman. This is the sort of chap for my division, Muster Gashford. Down with him, sir. Put him on the roll. Id stand godfather to him, if he was to be christened in a bonfire, made of the ruins of the Bank of England.
With these and other expressions of confidence of the like flattering kind, Mr Dennis gave him a hearty slap on the back, which Hugh was not slow to return.
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