‘But where’s the use of it?’ exclaimed Sponge; ‘it’ll do us no good, you know, praisin’ Puff’s pack, or himself, or anything about him.’

‘That’s just the point,’ said Jack, ‘that’s just the point. I can make it answer both our purposes,’ said he, with a nudge of the elbow, and an inside-out squint of his eyes.

‘Ah, that’s another matter,’ replied our friend; ‘if we can turn the thing to account, well and good -- I’m your man for a shy.’

‘We can turn it to account,’ rejoined Jack; ‘we can turn it to account -- at least I can; but then you must do it. He wouldn’t take it as any compliment from me. It’s the stranger that sees all things in their true lights. D’ ye understand?’ asked he, eagerly.

‘I twig,’ replied Sponge.

‘You write the account,’ continued Jack, ‘and I’ll manage the rest.’

‘You must help me,’ observed Sponge.

‘Certainly,’ replied Jack; ‘we’ll do it together, and go halves in the plunder.’

‘Humph,’ mused Sponge: ‘halves,’ said he to himself. ‘And what will you give me for my half?’ asked he.

‘Give you!’ exclaimed Jack, brightening up. ‘Give you! Let me see,’ continued he, pretending to consider -- ‘Puff’s rich -- Puff’s a liberal fellow -- Puff’s a conceited beggar -- mix it strong,’ said Jack, ‘and I’ll give you ten pounds.’

‘Make it twelve,’ replied Sponge, after a pause.

If Jack had said twelve, Sponge would have asked fourteen.

‘Couldn’t,’ said Jack, with a shake of the head; ‘it really isn’t with [worth] the money.’

The two then rode on in silence for some little distance.

‘I’ll tell you what I’ll do,’ said Jack, spurring his horse, and trotting up the space that the other had now shot ahead. ‘I’ll split the difference with you!’

‘Well, give me the sov.,’ said Sponge, holding out his hand for earnest.

‘Why, I haven’t a sov. upon me,’ replied Jack; ‘but, honour bright, I’ll do what I say.’

‘Give me eleven golden sovereigns for my chance,’ repeated Sponge, slowly, in order that there might be no mistake.

‘Eleven golden sovereigns for your chance,’ repeated Jack.

‘Done!’ replied Sponge.

‘Done!’ repeated Jack.

‘Let’s jog on and do it once while the thing’s fresh in our minds,’ said Jack, working his horse into a trot.

Sponge did the same; and the grass-siding of Orlantire Parkwall favouring their design, they increased the trot to a canter. They soon passed the park’s bounds, and entering upon one of those rarities -- an unenclosed common, angled its limits so as to escape the side-bar, and turning up Farningham Green Lane, came out upon the Kingsworth and Swillingford turnpike within sight of Hanby House.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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