Just as they shook hands at parting, the good old general, with a smile, said to him, ’I believe I had better not stir in the matter of Benson’s commission till I hear more from you. My harangue, in favour of the military profession, will, I fancy, prove like most other harangues, en pure PERTE.’
In what words of polite circumlocution, or of cautious diplomacy, shall we say, or hint, that the deceased ambassador’s papers were found in shameful disorder. His excellency’s executor, Sir James Brooke, however, was indefatigable in his researches. He and Lord Colambre spent two whole days in looking over portfolios of letters and memorials, and manifestoes, and bundles of paper of the most heterogeneous sorts; some of them without any docket or direction to lead to a knowledge of their contents; others written upon in such a manner as to give an erroneous notion of their nature; so that it was necessary to untie every paper separately. At last, when they had opened, as they thought, every paper, and, wearied and in despair, were just on the point of giving up the search, Lord Colambre spied a bundle of old newspapers at the bottom of a trunk.
‘They are only old Vienna Gazettes; I looked at them,’ said Sir James.
Lord Colambre, upon this assurance, was going to throw them into the trunk again; but observing that the bundle had not been untied, he opened it, and within-side of the newspapers he found a rough copy of the ambassador’s journal, and with it the packet, directed to Ralph Reynolds sen., Esq., Old Court, Suffolk, per favour of his excellency, Earl —, a note on the cover, signed O’Halloran, stating when received by him, and the date of the day when delivered to the ambassador—seals unbroken. Our hero was in such a transport of joy at the sight of this packet, and his friend Sir James Brooke so full of his congratulations, that they forgot to curse the ambassador’s carelessness, which had been the cause of so much evil.
The next thing to be done was to deliver the packet to Ralph Reynolds, Old Court, Suffolk. But when Lord Colambre arrived at Old Court, Suffolk, he found all the gates locked, and no admittance to be had. At last an old woman came out of the porter’s lodge, who said Mr. Reynolds was not there, and she could not say where he was. After our hero had opened her heart by the present of half a guinea, she explained, that she ’could not justly say where he was, because that he never let anybody of his own people know where he was any day; he had several different houses and places in different parts, and far-off counties, and other shires, as she heard, and by times he was at one, and by times at another.’ The names of two of the places, Toddrington and Little Wrestham, she knew; but there were others to which she could give no direction. He had houses in odd parts of London, too, that he let; and sometimes, when the lodgers’ time was out, he would go, and be never heard of for a month, maybe, in one of them. In short, there was no telling or saying where he was or would be one day of the week, by where he had been the last.’