`About the usual time; it may be a quarter of an hour later.'
They went into a dingy room lined with books and littered with papers, where there was a blazing fire. A kettle steamed upon the hob, and in the midst of the wreck of papers a table shone, with plenty of wine upon it, and brandy, and rum, and sugar, and lemons.
`You have had your bottle, I perceive, Sydney.'
`Two to-night, I think. I have been dining with the day's client; or seeing him dine--it's all one!'
`That was a rare point, Sydney, that you brought to bear upon the identification. How did you come by it? When did it strike you?'
`I thought he was rather a handsome fellow, and I thought I should have been much the same sort of fellow, if I had had any luck.'
Mr. Stryver laughed till he shook his precocious paunch.
`You and your luck, Sydney! Get to work, get to work.' Sullenly enough, the jackal loosened his dress, went into an adjoining room, and came back with a large jug of cold water, a basin, and a towel or two. Steeping the towels in the water, and partially wringing them out, he folded them on his head in a manner hideous to behold, sat down at the table, and said, `Now I am ready!'
`Not much boiling down to be done to-night, Memory,' said Mr. Stryver, gaily, as he looked among his papers.
`Only two sets of them.'
`Give me the worst first.'
`There they are, Sydney. Fire away!'
The lion then composed himself on his back on a sofa on one side of the drinking-table, while the jackal sat at his own Paper bestrewn table proper, on the other side of it, with the bottles and glasses ready to his hand. Both resorted to the drinking-table without stint, but each in a different way; the lion for the most part reclining with his hands in his waistband, looking at the fire, or occasionally flirting with some lighter document; the jackal, with knitted brows and intent face, so deep in his task, that his eyes did not even follow the hand he stretched out for his glass--which often groped about, for a minute or more, before it found the glass for his lips. Two or three times, the matter in hand became so knotty, that the jackal found it imperative on him to get up, and steep his towels anew. From these pilgrimages to the jug and basin, he returned with such eccentricities of damp headgear as no words can describe; which were made the more ludicrous by his anxious gravity.
At length the jackal had got together a compact repast for the lion, and proceeded to offer it to him. The lion took it with care and caution, made his selections from it, and his remarks upon it, and the jackal assisted both. When the repast was fully discussed, the lion put his hands in his waistband again, and lay down to meditate. The jackal then invigorated himself with a bumper for his throttle, and a fresh application to his head, and applied himself to the collection of a second meal; this was administered to the lion in the same manner, and was not disposed of until the clocks struck three in the morning.
`And now we have done, Sydney, fill a bumper of punch,' said Mr. Stryver.
The jackal removed the towels from his head, which had been steaming again, shook himself, yawned, shivered, and complied.
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