“Good-morning, Nanjivell!” said Mr Pamphlett.
“Another plea, I suppose?—when you had my word on Saturday that I’d done with you.”
“Then what is it? . . . For I hardly suppose ’tis to pay up—rent and arrears.”
“One—two—three—four—five—six—seven!” Nicky-Nan dived in his pocket for the fistful of coins, picked them out carefully, and laid them one by one on the table. “I’ll take the change an’ a receipt, if you please.”
“How came you by this money?” asked the Bank Manager, after a pause, staring at the gold.
“What the hell is that to you?” demanded Nicky-Nan.
For a moment Mr Pamphlett made no reply. Then he leaned forward and picked up one of the coins.
“I asked,” he said, “because one of these happens to be a guinea-piece—a spade guinea, and scarcely worn at all.”
“’Tis as good as a sovereign’s worth, hey?”
“Certainly: worth more in fact.”
“I’ll trust ’ee for the difference then,” said Nicky-Nan. “As for how I came by it, I came by it honest, an’ that’s enough. A man o’ my family may have a bit o’ hoard put by—by his forefathers.”
“I see,” said Mr Pamphlett thoughtfully. “Hendy shall make out the receipt. But this doesn’t include costs of the ejectment order, you know.”
“I’ll bring ’em to-morrow, if you’ll let me know the amount.”
“Hendy shall give you a note of it. . . No—to be fair, the ejectment order still stands against you. I have power to turn you out to-morrow.”
“But you won’t!”
“If you use that tone with me, my man, I certainly will. If you take your receipt and clear out, I may relent so far as to give you a short grace.”
When Nicky-Nan had taken his leave, Mr Pamphlett picked up the spade guinea and considered it curiously. It had a beautifully sharp impression, and might have been minted yesterday. He thought it would go very well on his watch-chain.
Then he opened the paper again, sought out the paragraph headed “Rise in Prices,” and read it through, pausing now and again to pencil a note or two on the back of an envelope.
On his way homeward in the dinner-hour he called at Mrs Pengelly’s shop and gave that good woman an order for groceries. The size of it almost caused her to faint. It ran into double figures in pounds sterling.
“Business as usual!” repeated Mr Pamphlett to himself complacently, as he pursued his way up the hill.
THE BROKEN PANE
During his interview with Mr Pamphlett, Nicky-Nan had been in a fever to get back to his parlour. It had no lock to the door, and goodness knew what the Penhaligon children might not be up to in these holiday times. Also he could not rid his mind of a terror that his wealth might prove, after all, to be fairy gold, and vanish in air.