“Where is he?” asked the money-lender angrily. “Why doesn’t he come down and face his creditors?”
“Master’s upstairs,” said James, “and you’ve seen yourself, Mr. Chalker, that he is off his chump. And oh, sir, who would have thought that Emblem’s would have come to ruin?”
“But there’s something, James—Come, think—there must be something.”
“Mr. Joseph said there were thousands. But he’s a terrible liar—oh, Mr. Chalker, he’s a terrible liar and villain! Why, he’s even deceived me!”
“What? Has he borrowed your money?”
“Worse—worse. Do you know where I could find him, sir?”
“Well, I don’t know—” Mr. Chalker was not in the habit of giving addresses, but in this case, perhaps Joe might be squeezed as well as his grandfather. Unfortunately that bill with the signature had been destroyed. “I don’t know. Perhaps if I find out I may tell you. And, James, if you can learn anything—this rubbish won’t fetch half the money—I’ll make it worth your while, James, I will indeed.”
“I’ll make him take his share,” said James to himself. “If I have to go to prison, he shall go too. They sha’n’t send me without sending him.”
He looked round. The watchful eyes were gone. The Hindoo had gone away noiselessly. James breathed again.
“After all,” he said, “how are they to find out? How are they to prove anything? Mr. Joseph took the things, and I helped him to a key; and he isn’t likely to split, and—oh, Lord, if they were to find it!” For at that moment he felt the duplicate key in his waistcoat-pocket. “If they were to find it!”
He took the key out, and looked at the bright and innocent-looking thing, as a murderer might look at his blood stained dagger.
Just then, as he gazed upon it, holding it just twelve inches in front of his nose, one hand was laid upon his shoulder, and another took the key from between his fingers.
He turned quickly, and his knees gave way, and he sunk upon the floor, crying:
“Oh, Mr. Lala Roy, sir, Mr. Lala Roy, I am not the thief! I am innocent! I will tell you all about it! I will confess all to you! I will indeed! I will make atonement! Oh, what a miserable fool I’ve been!”
“Upon the heels of Folly,” said the Sage, “treadeth Shame. You will now be able to understand the words of wisdom, which say of the wicked man, ’The curse of iniquity pursueth him; he liveth in continual fear; the anxiety of his mind taketh vengeance upon him.’ Stand up and speak.”
The Man in Possession looked on as if an incident of this kind was too common in families for him to take any notice of it. Nothing, in fact, is able to awaken astonishment in the heart of the Man in Possession, because nothing is sacred to him except the “sticks” he has to guard. To Iris, the event was, however, of importance, because it afforded Lala Roy a chance of giving Arnold that photograph, no other than an early portrait of Mr. Emblem’s grandson.