“It’s worth a great deal if we use it for our own purposes while we’re here; otherwise I agree with you that it’s valueless in itself.”
“You’re a cursed clever fellow, Val, an able knave, as I said—but I don’t like your son; he’s a dishonest blockhead, and I needn’t tell you that the man who has not brains enough to be dishonest is a most contemptible scoundrel.”
“Are you not able to get up?” asked Val, in a very dutiful and affectionate voice.
“Able enough now, but my head swam a while ago at a deuced rate. I was drunk, as usual, last night, and could do nothing, not even put a tumbler to my mouth, until I took a stiff glass of brandy and water, and that has set me up again. When shall I write to young Topertoe, the Cumber blade?”
“The sooner the better, now; but I think you ought to rise and take some exercise.”
“So I shall, immediately, and to-morrow I write then, according to your able instructions, most subtle and sagacious Val. Are you off?”
“Yes, good-bye, sir, and many thanks.”
“None of your stuff I say, but be off out of this—” and as he spoke Val disappeared.
So far the first steps for ousting Mr. Hickman were taken by this precious father and his equally valuable son. Val, however, entertained other speculations quite as ingenious, and far more malignant in their tendency. Hickman, of course, he might, by undercurrents and manoeuvering, succeed in ejecting from the agency; but he could not absolutely ruin him. Nothing short of this, however, did he propose to himself, so far as M’Loughlin, and, we may add, every one connected with him, was concerned; for M’Clutchy possessed that kind of economy in his moral feelings, that always prompted him to gratify his interest and his malice by the same act of virtue. How he succeeded in this benevolent resolution, time and the progress of this truthful history will show.
CHAPTER V.—A Mysterious Meeting
—Description of a Summer Evening—A Jealous Vision—Letter from Squire Beaker to Lord Cumber—Lord Cumber’s Reply.
The season was now about the close of May, that delightful month which presents, the heart and all our purer sensations with a twofold enjoyment; for in that sweet period have we not all the tenderness and delicacy of spring, combined with the fuller and more expanded charms of the leafy summer—like that portion of female life, in which the eye feels it difficult to determine whether the delicate beauty of the blushing girl, or the riper loveliness of the full grown maid, predominates in the person. The time was evening, about half an hour before that soft repose of twilight, in which may be perceived the subsiding stir of busy life as it murmurs itself into slumber, after the active pursuits of day. On a green upland lawn, that was a sheep walk, some portions of which were studded over with the blooming and fragrant furze,