“Mr George,” says Grandfather Smallweed, with a tremulous wave of his shrivelled hand, “this is the gentleman, sir.”

Mr George salutes the gentleman; but otherwise sits bolt upright and profoundly silent — very forward in his chair, as if the full complement of regulation appendages for a field day hung about him.

Mr Tulkinghorn proceeds: “Well, George? — I believe your name is George?”

“It is so, Sir.”

“What do you say, George?”

“I ask your pardon, sir,” returns the trooper, “but I should wish to know what you say?”

“Do you mean in point of reward?”

“I mean in point of everything, sir.”

This is so very trying to Mr Smallweed’s temper, that he suddenly breaks out with “You’re a Brimstone beast!” and as suddenly asks pardon of Mr Tulkinghorn; excusing himself for this slip of the tongue, by saying to Judy, “I was thinking of your grandmother, my dear.”

“I supposed, serjeant,” Mr Tulkinghorn resumes, as he leans on one side of his chair and crosses his legs, “that Mr Smallweed might have sufficiently explained the matter. It lies in the smallest compass, however. You served under Captain Hawdon at one time, and were his attendant in illness, and rendered him many little services, and were rather in his confidence, I am told. That is so, is it not?”

“Yes, sir, that is so,” says Mr George, with military brevity.

“Therefore you may happen to have in your possession something — anything, no matter what — accounts, instructions, orders, a letter, anything — in Captain Hawdon’s writing. I wish to compare his writing with some that I have. If you can give me the opportunity, you shall be rewarded for your trouble. Three, four, five, guineas, you would consider handsome, I dare say.”

“Noble, my dear friend!” cries Grandfather Smallweed, screwing up his eyes.

“If not, say how much more, in your conscience as a soldier, you can demand. There is no need for you to part with the writing, against your inclination — though I should prefer to have it.”

Mr George sits squared in exactly the same attitude, looks at the ground, looks at the painted ceiling, and says never a word. The irascible Mr Smallweed scratches the air.

“The question is,” says Mr Tulkinghorn in his methodical, subdued, uninterested way, “first, whether you have any of Captain Hawdon’s writing?”

“First, whether I have any of Captain Hawdon’s writing, sir,” repeats Mr George.

“Secondly, what will satisfy you for the trouble of producing it?”

“Secondly, what will satisfy me for the trouble of producing it, sir,” repeats Mr George.

“Thirdly, you can judge for yourself whether it is at all like that,” says Mr Tulkinghorn, suddenly handing him some sheets of written paper tied together.

“Whether it is at all like that, sir. Just so,” repeats Mr George.

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