His last chance.
Three days elapsed, during which nothing was done. That cause is strongest which can afford to wait. But in those three days several things happened.
First of all, Mr. David Chalker, seeing that the old man was obdurate, made up his mind to lose most of his money, and cursed Joe continually for having led him to build upon his grandfather’s supposed wealth. Yet he ought to have known. Tradesmen do not lock up their savings in investments for their grandchildren, nor do they borrow small sums at ruinous interest of money-lending solicitors; nor do they give Bills of Sale. These general rules were probably known to Mr. Chalker. Yet he did not apply them to this particular case. The neglect of the General Rule, in fact, may lead the most astute of mankind into ways of foolishness.
James, for his part, stimulated perpetually by fear of prison and loss of character and of situation—for who would employ an assistant who got keys made to open the safe?—showed himself the most repentant of mortals. Dr. Joseph Washington, lulled into the most perfect security, enjoyed all those pleasures which the sum of three hundred pounds could purchase. Nobody knew where he was, or what he was doing. As for Lotty, she had established herself firmly in Chester Square, and Cousin Clara daily found out new and additional proofs of the gentle blood breaking out!
On the fourth morning Lala Roy sallied forth. He was about to make a great Moral Experiment, the nature of which you will immediately understand. None but a philosopher who had studied Confucius and Lao Kiun, would have conceived so fine a scheme.
First he paid a visit to Mr. Chalker.
The office was the ground-floor front room, in one of the small streets north of the King’s Road. It was not an imposing office, nor did it seem as if much business was done there; and one clerk of tender years sufficed for Mr. Chalker’s wants.
“Oh!” he said, “it’s our friend from India. You’re a lodger of old Emblem’s, ain’t you?”
“I have lived with him for twenty years. I am his friend.”
“Very well. I dare say we shall come to terms, if he’s come to his senses. Just take a chair and sit down. How is the old man?”
“He has not yet recovered the use of his intellect.”
“Oh! Then how can you act for him if he’s off his head?”
“I came to ask an English creditor to show mercy.”
“Mercy? What is the man talking about? Mercy! I want my money. What has that got to do with mercy?”
“Nothing, truly; but I will give you your money. I will give you justice, and you shall give me mercy. You lent Mr. Emblem fifty pounds. Will you take your fifty pounds, and leave us in peace?”
He drew a bag out of his pocket—a brown banker’s bag—and Mr. Chalker distinctly heard the rustling of notes.