`You were eaves-dropping at that door, you vagabond!' said this gentleman.
Mr. Pecksniff cast him off, as Saint George might have repudiated the Dragon in that animal's last moments, and said:
`Where is Mrs. Lupin, I wonder! can the good woman possibly be aware that there is a person here who --'
`Stay!' said the gentleman. `Wait a bit. She does know. What then?'
`What then, sir?' cried Mr. Pecksniff. `What then? Do you know, sir, that I am the friend and relative of that sick gentleman? That I am his protector, his guardian, his --'
`Not his niece's husband,' interposed the stranger, `I'll be sworn; for he was there before you.'
`What do you mean?' said Mr. Pecksniff, with indignant surprise. `What do you tell me, sir?'
`Wait a bit!' cried the other, `Perhaps you are a cousin -- the cousin who lives in this place?'
`I am the cousin who lives in this place,' replied the man of worth.
`Your name is Pecksniff?' said the gentleman.
`I am proud to know you, and I ask your pardon,' said the gentleman, touching his hat, and subsequently diving behind his cravat for a shirt-collar, which however he did not succeed in bringing to the surface. `You behold in me, sir, one who has also an interest in that gentleman up-stairs. Wait a bit.'
As he said this, he touched the tip of his high nose, by way of intimation that he would let Mr Pecksniff into a secret presently; and pulling off his hat, began to search inside the crown among a mass of crumpled documents and small pieces of what may be called the bark of broken cigars: whence he presently selected the cover of an old letter, begrimed with dirt and redolent of tobacco.
`Read that,' he cried, giving it to Mr. Pecksniff.
`This is addressed to Chevy Slyme, Esquire,' said that gentleman.
`You know Chevy Slyme, Esquire, I believe?' returned the stranger.
Mr. Pecksniff shrugged his shoulders as though he would say `I know there is such a person, and I am sorry for it.'
`Very good,' remarked the gentleman. `That is my interest and business here.' With that he made another dive for his shirt-collar and brought up a string.
`Now, this is very distressing, my friend,' said Mr. Pecksniff, shaking his head and smiling composedly. `It is very distressing to me, to be compelled to say that you are not the person you claim to be. I know Mr. Slyme, my friend: this will not do: honesty is the best policy you had better not; you had indeed.'
`Stop' cried the gentleman, stretching forth his right arm, which was so tightly wedged into his threadbare sleeve that it looked like a cloth sausage. `Wait a bit!'
He paused to establish himself immediately in front of the fire with his back towards it. Then gathering the skirts of his coat under his left arm, and smoothing his moustache with his right thumb and forefinger, he resumed:
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