The Absentee eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 393 pages of information about The Absentee.
a gentleman in his last moments; that he was not to be cheated out of his due by such niceties; that he was prepared to go all lengths the law would allow; for that, as to what people said of him, he did not care a doit—­’Cover your face with your hands, if you like it, Mr. Berryl; you may be ashamed for me, but I feel no shame for myself—­I am not so weak.’  Mordicai’s countenance said more than his words; livid with malice, and with atrocious determination in his eyes, he stood.  ‘Yes, sir,’ said he, ’you may look at me as you please—­it is possible I am in earnest.  Consult what you’ll do now, behind my back or before my face, it comes to the same thing; for nothing will do but my money or your bond, Mr. Berryl.  The arrest is made on the person of your father, luckily made while the breath is still in the body.  Yes—­start forward to strike me, if you dare—­your father, Sir John Berryl, sick or well, is my prisoner.’

Lady Berryl and Mr. Berryl’s sisters, in an agony of grief, rushed into the room.

‘It’s all useless,’ cried Mordicai, turning his back upon the ladies; ’these tricks upon creditors won’t do with me; I’m used to these scenes; I’m not made of such stuff as you think.  Leave a gentleman in peace in his last moments.  No! he ought not, nor shan’t die in peace, if he don’t pay his debts; and if you are all so mighty sorry, ladies, there’s the gentleman you may kneel to; if tenderness is the order of the day, it’s for the son to show it, not me.  Ay, now, Mr. Berryl,’ cried he, as Mr. Berryl took up the bond to sign it, ’you’re beginning to know I’m not a fool to be trifled with.  Stop your hand, if you choose it, sir—­it’s all the same to me; the person, or the money, I’ll carry with me out of this house.’

Mr. Beryl signed the bond, and threw it to him.

‘There, monster!—­quit the house!’

‘Monster is not actionable—­I wish you had called me rascal,’ said Mordicai, grinning a horrible smile; and taking up the bond deliberately, returned it to Mr. Berryl.  ’This paper is worth nothing to me, sir—­it is not witnessed.’

Mr. Berryl hastily left the room, and returned with Lord Colambre.  Mordicai changed countenance and grew pale, for a moment, at sight of Lord Colambre.

’Well, my lord, since it so happens, I am not sorry that you should be witness to this paper,’ said, he; ’and indeed not sorry that you should witness the whole proceeding; for I trust I shall be able to explain to you my conduct.’

‘I do not come here, sir,’ interrupted Lord Colambre, ’to listen to any explanations of your conduct, which I perfectly understand;—­I come to witness a bond for my friend Mr. Berryl, if you think proper to extort from him such a bond.’

’I extort nothing, my lord.  Mr. Berryl, it is quite a voluntary act, take notice, on your part; sign or not, witness or not, as you please, gentlemen,’ said Mordicai, sticking his hands in his pockets, and recovering his look of black and fixed determination.

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The Absentee from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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