“Never fear,” said Jack; “you shall fight him, at any rate. I’ll go and see he don’t back out, the warmint.”
“Then go along, Jack; and mind don’t you go blazing away like a fire ship, and letting everybody know what’s going on, or it’ll be stopped.”
“I’ll not spoil sport,” said Jack, as he left the room, to go at once to Sir Francis Varney, charged with the conducting of the important cartel of the admiral. Jack made the best of his way with becoming gravity and expedition until he reached the gate of the admiral’s enemy.
Jack rang loudly at the gate; there seemed, if one might judge by his countenance, a something on his mind, that Jack was almost another man. The gate was opened by the servant, who inquired what he wanted there.
The servant frowned, and was about to say something uncivil to Jack, who winked at him very hard, and then said,—
“Oh, may be you don’t know him, or won’t know him by that name: I wants to see Sir Francis Varney.”
“He’s at home,” said the servant; “who are you?”
“Show me up, then. I’m Jack Pringle, and I’m come from Admiral Bell; I’m the Admiral’s friend, you see, so none of your black looks.”
The servant seemed amazed, as well as rather daunted, at Jack’s address; he showed him, however, into the hall, where Mr. Chillingworth had just that moment arrived, and was waiting for an interview with Varney.
MARCHDALE’S OFFER.—THE CONSULTATION AT BANNERWORTH HALL.—THE MORNING OF THE DUEL.
Mr. Chillingworth was much annoyed to see Jack Pringle in the hall, and Jack was somewhat surprised at seeing Mr. Chillingworth there at that time in the rooming; they had but little time to indulge in their mutual astonishment, for a servant came to announce that Sir Francis Varney would see them both.
Without saying anything to the servant or each other, they ascended the staircase, and were shown into the apartment where Sir Francis Varney received them.
“Gentlemen,” said Sir Francis, in his usual bland tone, “you are welcome.”
“Sir Francis,” said Mr. Chillingworth, “I have come upon matters of some importance; may I crave a separate audience?”
“And I too,” said Jack Pringle; “I come as the friend of Admiral Bell, I want a private audience; but, stay, I don’t care a rope’s end who knows who I am, or what I come about; say you are ready to name time and place, and I’m as dumb as a figure-head; that is saying something, at all events; and now I’m done.”
“Why, gentlemen,” said Sir Francis, with a quiet smile, “as you have both come upon the same errand, and as there may arise a controversy upon the point of precedence, you had better be both present, as I must arrange this matter myself upon due inquiry.”