She was resuming, “Have you nothing —” when he stopped her.

“We, Sophronia. We, we, we.”

“Have we nothing to sell ?”

“Deuce a bit. I have given a Jew a bill of sale on this furniture, and he could take it to-morrow, to-day, now. He would have taken it before now, I believe, but for Fledgeby.”

“What has Fledgeby to do with him?”

“Knew him. Cautioned me against him before I got into his claws. Couldn’t persuade him then, in behalf of somebody else.”

“Do you mean that Fledgeby has at all softened him towards you?”

“Us, Sophronia. Us, us, us.”

“Towards us?”

“I mean that the Jew has not yet done what he might have done, and that Fledgeby takes the credit of having got him to hold his hand.”

“Do you believe Fledgeby?”

“Sophronia, I never believe anybody. I never have, my dear, since I believed you. But it looks like it.”

Having given her this back-handed reminder of her mutinous observations to the skeleton, Mr Lammle rose from table — perhaps, the better to conceal a smile, and a white dint or two about his nose — and took a turn on the carpet and came to the hearthrug.

“If we could have packed the brute off with Georgiana; — but however; that’s spilled milk.”

As Lammle, standing gathering up the skirts of his dressing-gown with his back to the fire, said this, looking down at his wife, she turned pale and looked down at the ground. With a sense of disloyalty upon her, and perhaps with a sense of personal danger — for she was afraid of him — even afraid of his hand and afraid of his foot, though he had never done her violence — she hastened to put herself right in his eyes.

“If we could borrow money, Alfred —”

“Beg money, borrow money, or steal money. It would be all one to us, Sophronia,” her husband struck in.

“— Then, we could weather this?”

“No doubt. To offer another original and undeniable remark, Sophronia, two and two make four.”

But, seeing that she was turning something in her mind, he gathered up the skirts of his dressing-gown again, and, tucking them under one arm, and collecting his ample whiskers in his other hand, kept his eye upon her, silently.

“It is natural, Alfred,” she said, looking up with some timidity into his face, “to think in such an emergency of the richest people we know, and the simplest.”

“Just so, Sophronia.”

“The Boffins.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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