Mr Brass had evidently a strong inclination to make an angry reply, but was deterred by prudent or timid considerations, as he only muttered something about aggravation and a vagabond; not associating the terms with any individual, but mentioning them as connected with some abstract ideas which happened to occur to him. They went on writing for a long time in silence after thisin such a dull silence that Mr Swiveller (who required excitement) had several times fallen asleep, and written divers strange words in an unknown character with his eyes shut, when Miss Sally at length broke in upon the monotony of the office by pulling out the little tin box, taking a noisy pinch of snuff, and then expressing her opinion that Mr Richard Swiveller had done it.
Done what, maam? said Richard.
Do you know, returned Miss Brass, that the lodger isnt up yetthat nothing has been seen or heard of him since he went to bed yesterday afternoon?
Well, maam, said Dick, I suppose he may sleep his ten pound out, in peace and quietness, if he likes.
Ah! I begin to think hell never wake, observed Miss Sally.
Its a very remarkable circumstance, said Brass, laying down his pen; really, very remarkable. Mr Richard, youll remember, if this gentleman should be found to have hung himself to the bed-post, or any unpleasant accident of that kind should happenyoull remember, Mr Richard, that this ten-pound note was given to you in part payment of two years rent? Youll bear that in mind, Mr Richard; you had better make a note of it, Sir, in case you should ever be called upon to give evidence.
Mr Swiveller took a large sheet of foolscap, and with a countenance of profound gravity, began to make a very small note in one corner.
We can never be too cautious, said Mr Brass. There is a deal of wickedness going about the world, a deal of wickedness. Did the gentleman happen to say, Sirbut never mind that at present, Sir; finish that little memorandum first.
Dick did so, and handed it to Mr Brass, who had dismounted from his stool and was walking up and down the office.
Oh, this is the memorandum, is it? said Brass, running his eye over the document. Very good. Now, Mr Richard, did the gentleman say anything else?
Are you sure, Mr Richard, said Brass, solemnly, that the gentleman said nothing else?
Devil a word, Sir, replied Dick.
Think again, Sir, said Brass; its my duty, Sir, in the position in which I stand, and as an honourable member of the legal professionthe first profession in this country, Sir, or in any other country, or in any of the planets that shine above us at night and are supposed to be inhabitedits my duty, Sir, as an honourable member of that profession, not to put to you a leading question in a matter of this delicacy and importance. Did the gentleman, Sir, who took the first floor of you yesterday afternoon, and who brought with him a box of propertya box of propertysay anything more than is set down in this memorandum?
Come, dont be a fool, said Miss Sally.
Dick looked at her, and then at Brass, and then at Miss Sally again, and still said No.
Pooh, pooh! Deuce take it, Mr Richard, how dull you are! cried Brass, relaxing into a smile. Did he say anything about his property!there!
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