The Absentee eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 301 pages of information about The Absentee.

‘Witness it, witness it, my dear lord,’ said Mr. Berryl, looking at his mother and weeping sisters; ‘witness it, quick!’

’Mr. Berryl must just run over his name again in your presence, my lord, with a dry pen,’ said Mordicai, putting the pen into Mr. Berryl’s hand.

‘No, sir,’ said Lord Colambre, ‘my friend shall never sign it.’

’As you please, my lord—­the bond or the body, before I quit this house,’ said Mordicai.

‘Neither, sir, shall you have; and you quit this house directly.’

‘How! how!—­my lord, how’s this?’

‘Sir, the arrest you have made is as illegal as it is inhuman.’

‘Illegal, my lord!’ said Mordicai, startled.

’Illegal, sir.  I came into this house at the moment when your bailiff asked and was refused admittance.  Afterwards, in the confusion of the family above stairs, he forced open the house door with an iron bar—­I saw him—­I am ready to give evidence of the fact.  Now proceed at your peril.’

Mordicai, without reply snatched up his hat, and walked towards the door; but Lord Colambre held the door open—­the door was immediately at the head of the stairs—­and Mordicai, seeing his indignant look and proud form, hesitated to pass; for he had always heard that Irishmen are ‘quick in the executive part of justice.’

‘Pass on, sir,’ repeated Lord Colambre, with an air of ineffable contempt; ‘I am a gentleman—­you have nothing to fear.’

Mordicai ran downstairs; Lord Colambre, before he went back into the room, waited to see Mordicai and his bailiff out of the house.  When Mordicai was fairly at the bottom of the stairs, he turned, and, white with rage, looked up at Lord Colambre.

‘Charity begins at home, my lord,’ said he.  ’Look at home—­you shall pay for this,’ added he, standing half-shielded by the house door, for Lord Colambre moved forward as he spoke the last words; ’and I give you this warning, because I know it will be of no use to you—­Your most obedient, my lord.’

The house door closed after Mordicai.

‘Thank Heaven!’ thought Lord Colambre, ’that I did not horsewhip that mean wretch!  This warning shall be of use to me.  But it is not time to think of that yet.’

Lord Colambre turned from his own affairs to those of his friend, to offer all the assistance and consolation in his power.  Sir John Berryl died that night.  His daughters, who had lived in the highest style in London, were left totally unprovided for.  His widow had mortgaged her jointure.  Mr. Berryl had an estate now left to him, but without any income.  He could not be so dishonest as to refuse to pay his father’s just debts; he could not let his mother and sisters starve.  The scene of distress to which Lord Colambre was witness in this family made a still greater impression upon him than had been made by the warning or the threats of Mordicai.  The similarity between the circumstances of his friend’s family and of his own struck him forcibly.

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The Absentee from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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