“I think I will call this evening upon Mr Masterton, and ask his advice.”
“Ask him to accompany us, Newland, and he will frighten them with libel, and defamation of character.”
I called upon Mr Masterton, that evening, and told my story. “It is indeed very provoking, Newland; but keep your courage up, I will go with you to-morrow, and will see what we can make of it. At what time do you propose to start?”
“Will it suit you, sir, if we call at one o’clock?”
“Yes; so good-night, my boy, for I have something here which I must contrive to get through before that time.”
Harcourt had procured the carriage, and we picked up Mr Masterton at the hour agreed, and proceeded to Smithfield. When we drove up to the door of Mr Pleggit’s shop, the assistants at first imagined that it was a mistake; few handsome carriages are to be seen stopping in this quarter of the metropolis. We descended and entered the shop, Mr Masterton inquiring if Mr Pleggit was at home. The shopmen, who had not recognised me, bowed to the ground in their awkward way; and one ran to call Mr Pleggit, who was up stairs. Mr Pleggit descended, and we walked into the back parlour. Mr Masterton then told him the object of our calling, and requested to know why the gentleman, who had inquired after me, had been sent away with the infamous fabrication that I had been transported for forgery. Mr Pleggit protested innocence—recollected, however, that a person had called—would make every inquiry of his shopmen. The head man was called in and interrogated—at first he appeared to make a joke of it, but when threatened by Mr Masterton became humble—acknowledged that they had said that I was transported, for they had read it in the newspapers—was sorry for the mistake; said that the gentleman was a very tall person, very well dressed, very much of a gentleman—could not recollect his exact dress—was a large built man, with a stern face—but seemed very much agitated when he heard that I had been transported. Called twice, Mr Pleggit was not in at first—left his name—thinks the name was put down on the day book—when he called a second time, Mr Pleggit was at home, and referred him to them, not knowing what had become of me. The other shopman was examined, and his evidence proved similar to that of the first. The day-book was sent for, and the day in August —— referred to; there was a name written down on the side of the page, which the shopman said he had no doubt, indeed he could almost swear, was the gentleman’s name, as there was no other name put down on that day. The name, as taken down, was Derbennon. This was all the information we could obtain, and we then quitted the shop, and drove off without there being any recognition of me on the part of Mr Pleggit and his assistants.
“I never heard that name before,” observed Harcourt to Mr Masterton.
“It is, in all probability, De Benyon,” replied the lawyer; “we must make allowances for their ignorance. At all events, this is a sort of clue to follow up. The De Benyons are Irish.”