“All right, Joe, go on. I am Iris—I am anybody you like. Go on.”
“The more I think about it, the more I’m certain we shall do the trick. Only keep cool over the job and forget the music-hall. You are Iris Deseret, and you are the daughter of Claude Deseret, deceased. I am Dr. Washington, one of the American family who brought you up. You’re grateful, mind. Nothing can be more lively than your gratitude. We’ve been brother and sister, you and me, and I’ve got a wife and young family and a rising practice at home in the State of Maine, and I am only come over here to see you into your rights at great personal expense. Paid a substitute. Yes, actually paid a substitute. We only found the papers the other day, which is the reason why we did not come over before, and I am going home again directly.”
“You are not really going away, Joe, are you?”
“No, I am going to stay here; but I shall pretend to go away. Now remember, we’ve got no suspicion ourselves, and we don’t expect to meet any. If there is any, we are surprised and sorry. We don’t come to the lady with a lawyer or a blunderbuss; we come as friends, and we shall arrange this little business between ourselves. Oh, never you fear, we shall arrange it quite comfortably, without lawyers.”
“How much do you think we shall get out of it, Joe?”
“Listen, and open your eyes. There’s nearly a hundred and twenty thousand pounds and a small estate in the country. Don’t let us trouble about the estate more than we can help. Estates mean lawyers. Money doesn’t.”
He spoke as if small sums like a hundred thousand pounds are carried about in the pocket.
“Good gracious! And you’ve got two hundred of it already, haven’t you?”
“Yes, but what is two hundred out of a hundred and twenty thousand? A hundred and twenty thousand! There’s spending in it, isn’t there, Lotty? Gad, we’ll make the money spin, I calculate! It may be a few weeks before the old lady transfers the money—I don’t quite know where it is, but in stocks or something—to your name. As soon as it is in your name I’ve got a plan. We’ll remember that you’ve got a sweetheart or something in America, and you’ll break your heart for wanting to see him. And then nothing will do but you must run across for a trip. Oh, I’ll manage, and we’ll make the money fly.”
He was always adding new details to his story, finding something to embellish it and heighten the effect, and now having succeeded in getting the false Iris into the house, he began already to devise schemes to get her out again.
“A hundred thousand pounds? Why, Joe, it is a terrible great sum of money. Good gracious! What shall we do with it, when we get it?”
“I’ll show you what to do with it, my girl.”
“And you said, Joe—you declared that it is your own by rights.”
“Certainly it is my own. It would have been bequeathed to me by my own cousin. But she didn’t know it. And she died without knowing it, and I am her heir.”