’You grinning rascal! mind, at your peril, and don’t let that there carriage be touched, d’ye see, till further orders.’
One of Mr. Mordicai’s clerks, with a huge long-feathered pen behind his ear, observed that Mr. Mordicai was right in that caution, for that, to the best of his comprehension, Sir Terence O’Fay and his principal, too, were over head and ears in debt.
Mordicai coolly answered that he was well aware of that; but that the estate could afford to dip further; that, for his part, he was under no apprehension; he knew how to look sharp, and to bite before he was bit. That he knew Sir Terence and his principal were leagued together to give the creditors the go by, but that, clever as they both were at that work, he trusted he was their match.
‘Will you be so good, sir, to finish making out this estimate for me?’ interrupted Lord Colambre.
’Immediately, sir. Sixty-nine pound four, and the perch. Let us see—Mr. Mordicai, ask him, ask Paddy, about Sir Terence,’ said the foreman, pointing back over his shoulder to the Irish workman, who was at this moment pretending to be wondrous hard at work. However, when Mr. Mordicai defied him to tell him anything he did not know, Paddy, parting with an untasted bit of tobacco, began, and recounted some of Sir Terence O’Fay’s exploits in evading duns, replevying cattle, fighting sheriffs, bribing subs, managing cants, tricking CUSTODEES, in language so strange, and with a countenance and gestures so full of enjoyment of the jest, that, whilst Mordicai stood for a moment aghast with astonishment, Lord Colambre could not help laughing, partly at, and partly with, his countryman. All the yard were in a roar of laughter, though they did not understand half of what they heard; but their risible muscles were acted upon mechanically, or maliciously, merely by the sound of the Irish brogue.
Mordicai, waiting till the laugh was over, dryly observed that ’the law is executed in another guess sort of way in England from what it is in Ireland’; therefore, for his part, he desired nothing better than to set his wits fairly against such sharks. That there was a pleasure in doing up a debtor which none but a creditor could know.
’In a moment, sir; if you’ll have a moment’s patience, sir, if you please,’ said the slow foreman to Lord Colambre; ’I must go down the pounds once more, and then I’ll let you have it.’
‘I’ll tell you what, Smithfield,’ continued Mr. Mordicai, coming close beside his foreman, and speaking very low, but with a voice trembling with anger, for he was piqued by his foreman’s doubts of his capacity to cope with Sir Terence O’Fay; ’I’ll tell you what, Smithfield, I’ll be cursed, if I don’t get every inch of them into my power. You know how?’
‘You are the best judge, sir,’ replied the foreman; ’but I would not undertake Sir Terence; and the question is, whether the estate will answer the lot of the debts, and whether you know them all for certain?’