“I am for one,” declared the costermonger, moving away from before the desk. “I ain’t in no ’urry. I’ve ‘ad a bit o’ bad luck wi’ my barrer, all owing to a plaguing drunken old omnibus-driver, and horl I want is a bit o’ help towards the security. Josh Auk wants it before he’ll let me out a new one. Tomorrow’s horl right for me.”
“Well, I expect we’ll manage that,” Brooks remarked. “Now where are the urgent cases?”
One by one they were elbowed forward. Brooks’ pen flew across the paper. It was midnight even then before they had finished. Brooks and Mary Scott left together. They were both too exhausted for words.
As they crossed the street Mary suddenly touched his arm.
“Look!” she whispered.
A girl was leaning up against the wall, her face buried in her hands, sobbing bitterly. They both watched her for a moment. It was Amy Hardinge.
“I will go and speak to her,” Mary whispered.
Brooks drew her away.
“Not one word, even of advice,” he said. “Let us keep to our principles. The end will be surer.”
They turned the corner of the street. Above the shouting of an angry woman and the crazy song of a drunken man the girl’s sobs still lingered in their ears.
MR. BULLSOM IS STAGGERED
Mr. Bullsom looked up from his letters With an air of satisfaction.
“Company to dinner, Mrs. Bullsom!” he declared. “Some more of your silly old directors, I suppose,” said Selina, discontentedly. “What a nuisance they are.”
Mr. Bullsom frowned.
“My silly old directors, as you call ’em,” he answered, “may not be exactly up to your idea of refinement, but I wouldn’t call ’em names if I were you. They’ve made me one of the richest men in Medchester.”
“A lot we get out of it,” Louise grunted, discontentedly.
“You get as much as you deserve,” Mr. Bullsom retorted. “Besides, you’re so plaguing impatient. You don’t hear your mother talk like that.”
Selina whispered something under her breath which Mr. Bullsom, if he heard, chose to ignore.
“I’ve explained to you all before,” he continued, “that up to the end of last year we’ve been holding the entire property—over a million pounds’ worth, between five of us. Our time’s come now. Now, look here—I’ll listen to what you’ve got to say—all of you. Supposing I’ve made up my mind to launch out. How do you want to do it? You first, mother.”
Mrs. Bullsom looked worried.
“My dear Peter,” she said, “I think we’re very comfortable as we are. A larger household means more care, and a man-servant about the place is a thing I could never abide. If you felt like taking sittings at Mr. Thompson’s as well as our own chapel, so that we could go there when we felt we needed a change, I think I should like it sometimes. But it seems a waste of good money with Sundays only coming once in seven days.”