Why, you wouldnt, said the secretary, with his worst expression of face, and in his mildest tones, have anything to do, withwith death in it?
I dont know that, replied Hugh. Im open to orders. I dont care; not I.
Nor I! vociferated Dennis.
Brave fellows! said the secretary, in as pastor-like a voice as if he were commending them for some uncommon act of valour and generosity. By the byeand here he stopped and warmed his hands: then suddenly looked upwho threw that stone to-day?
Mr Dennis coughed and shook his head, as who should say, A mystery indeed! Hugh sat and smoked in silence.
It was well done! said the secretary, warming his hands again. I should like to know that man.
Would you? said Dennis, after looking at his face to assure himself that he was serious. Would you like to know that man, Muster Gashford?
I should indeed, replied the secretary.
Why then, Lord love you, said the hangman, in his hoarest chuckle, as he pointed with his pipe to Hugh, there he sits. Thats the man. My stars and halters, Muster Gashford, he added in a whisper, as he drew his stool close to him and jogged him with his elbow, what a interesting blade he is! He wants as much holding in as a thorough-bred bulldog. If it hadnt been for me to-day, hed have had that ere Roman down, and made a riot of it, in another minute.
And why not? cried Hugh in a surly voice, as he overheard this last remark. Wheres the good of putting things off? Strike while the irons hot; thats what I say.
Ah! retorted Dennis, shaking his head, with a kind of pity for his friends ingenuous youth; but suppose the iron ant hot, brother! You must get peoples blood up afore you strike, and have em in the humour. There wasnt quite enough to provoke em today, I tell you. If youd had your way, youd have spoilt the fun to come, and ruined us.
Dennis is quite right, said Gashford, smoothly. He is perfectly correct. Dennis has great knowledge of the world.
I ought to have, Muster Gashford, seeing what a many people Ive helped out of it, eh? grinned the hangman, whispering the words behind his hand.
The secretary laughed at this jest as much as Dennis could desire, and when he had done, said, turning to Hugh, Denniss policy was mine, as you may have observed. You saw, for instance, how I fell when I was set upon. I made no resistance. I did nothing to provoke an outbreak. Oh dear no!
No, by the Lord Harry! cried Dennis with a noisy laugh, you went down very quiet, Muster Gashfordand very flat besides. I thinks to myself at the time its all up with Muster Gashford! I never see a man lay flatter nor more stillwith the life in himthan you did to-day. Hes a rough un to play with, is that ere Papist, and thats the fact.
The secretarys face, as Dennis roared with laughter, and turned his wrinkled eyes on Hugh who did the like, might have furnished a study for the devils picture. He sat quite silent until they were serious again, and then said, looking round, We are very pleasant here; so very pleasant, Dennis, that but for my lords particular desire that I should sup with him, and the time being very near at hand, I should he
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