“Gentlemen,” said he at last, slowly, “my course is plain from this instant. I shall draw the bill and it shall go to Parliament. The expense of this recoinage I am sure we can find maintained by the stockholders of the Bank of England, and for their pay we shall propose a new tax upon the people of England. We shall tax the windows of the houses of England, and hence tax not only the poor but the rich of England, and that proportionately with their wealth. As for the coin of England, it shall be honest coin, made honest and kept honest, at no cost to the people of old England. Sirs, my heart is lighter than it has been for many days.”
The last trace of formality in the meeting having at length vanished, Montague made his way rapidly to the foot of the table. He caught Law by both his hands.
“Sir,” said he, “you helped us at the last stage of our ascent. A mistake here had been ruinous, not only to myself and friends, but to the safety of the whole Government. You spoke wisely and practically. Sir, if I can ever in all my life serve you, command me, and at whatever price you name. I am not yet done with you, sir,” resumed Montague, casting his arm boyishly about the other’s shoulder as they walked out. “We must meet again to discuss certain problems of the currency which, I bethink me, you have studied deeply. Keep you here in London, for I shall have need of you. Within the month, perhaps within the week, I shall require you. England needs men who can do more than dawdle. Pray you, keep me advised where you may be found.”
There was ill omen in the light reply. “Why, as to that, my Lord,” said Law, “if you should think my poor service useful, your servants might get trace of me at the Green Lion—unless I should be in prison! No man knoweth what may come.”
Montague laughed lightly. “At the Green Lion, or in Newgate itself,” said he. “Be ready, for I have not yet done with you.”
THE RESOLUTION OF MR. LAW
The problems of England’s troubled finances, the questions of the coinage, the gossip of the king’s embroilments with the Parliament—these things, it may again be said, occupied Law’s mind far less than the question of gaining audience with his fair rescuer of the morn at Sadler’s Wells. This was the puzzle which, revolve it as he might, not even his audacious wit was able to provide with plausible solution. He pondered the matter in a hundred different pleasing phases as he passed from the Bank of England through the crowded streets of London, and so at length found himself at the shabby little lodgings in Bradwell Street, where he and his brother had, for the time, taken up their quarters.
“It starteth well, my boy,” cried he, gaily, to his brother, when at length he had found his way up the narrow stair into the little room, and discovered Will patiently awaiting his return. “Already two of my errands are well acquit.”