behind the door, with her eyes on the ground and her hands folded on her basket, holding her crutch- stick between them, and appearing to take no heed of anything.
Hes a long time, muttered Mr Fledgeby, looking at his watch. What time may you make it, Mr Twemlow?
Mr Twemlow made it ten minutes past twelve, sir.
As near as a toucher, assented Fledgeby. I hope, Mr Twemlow, your business here may be of a more agreeable character than mine.
Thank you, sir, said Mr Twemlow.
Fledgeby again made his small eyes smaller, as he glanced with great complacency at Twemlow, who was timorously tapping the table with a folded letter.
What I know of Mr Riah, said Fledgeby, with a very disparaging utterance of his name, leads me to believe that this is about the shop for disagreeable business. I have always found him the bitingest and tightest screw in London.
Mr Twemlow acknowledged the remark with a little distant bow. It evidently made him nervous.
So much so, pursued Fledgeby, that if it wasnt to be true to a friend, nobody should catch me waiting here a single minute. But if you have friends in adversity, stand by them. Thats what I say and act up to.
The equitable Twemlow felt that this sentiment, irrespective of the utterer, demanded his cordial assent. You are very right, sir, he rejoined with spirit. You indicate the generous and manly course.
Glad to have your approbation, returned Fledgeby. Its a coincidence, Mr Twemlow; here he descended from his perch, and sauntered towards him; that the friends I am standing by to-day are the friends at whose house I met you! The Lammles. Shes a very taking and agreeable woman?
Conscience smote the gentle Twemlow pale. Yes, he said. She is.
And when she appealed to me this morning, to come and try what I could do to pacify their creditor, this Mr Riah that I certainly have gained some little influence with in transacting business for another friend, but nothing like so much as she supposes and when a woman like that spoke to me as her dearest Mr Fledgeby, and shed tears why what could I do, you know?
Twemlow gasped Nothing but come.
Nothing but come. And so I came. But why, said Fledgeby, putting his hands in his pockets and counterfeiting deep meditation, why Riah should have started up, when I told him that the Lammles entreated him to hold over a Bill of Sale he has on all their effects; and why he should have cut out, saying he would be back directly; and why he should have left me here alone so long; I cannot understand.
The chivalrous Twemlow, Knight of the Simple Heart, was not in a condition to offer any suggestion. He was too penitent, too remorseful. For the first time in his life he had done an underhanded action, and he had done wrong. He had secretly interposed against this confiding young man, for no better real reason than because the young mans ways were not his ways.
But, the confiding young man proceeded to heap coals of fire on his sensitive head.
I beg your pardon, Mr Twemlow; you see I am acquainted with the nature of the affairs that are transacted here. Is there anything I can do for you here? You have always been brought up as a gentleman, and
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