“Guarding the Bank, I believe, your Grace.”
The Duke grunted.
“Wants guarding from what I can hear of it,” he blurted. “Tell him it’s no good,” he shouted. “Tell him to come out of it. It’s no job for an honest man.”
“Bankin’.” He muttered to himself. “There’s only one thing an honest man can do, that’s land. Everything else you get dirty over. I’m not overclean myself, but I’m not as dirty as some of ’em.”
Then there appeared paragraphs in the paper.
The girl asked her father about them.
He shook his head.
“I don’t understand it, my dear,” he said. “And what’s more, I don’t believe Mr. Silver do himself. I see the accounts published in the paper. Accordin’ to them the Bank had five millions in cash. You’d think you couldn’t go very fur wrong with five millions in cash in the till.”
“Perhaps a clerk’s been taking some,” said the girl eagerly.
Once, but only once, there had been a clerk at Putnam’s.
The old man was not to be convinced.
“Take a tidy-sized clurk to go off with five million in his pocket,” he said. “Course I don’t say he couldn’t do it, Gob ‘elpin’ ’im. Only he’d be carryin’ a lot o’ dead weight, as the Psalmist said. Too ’eavily penalised, I should say. No, my dear, ’tain’t the clurk. ’Tis the li’bilities.”
“What are the liabilities?” asked Boy.
“They’re the devil, my dear,” said the old man. “That’s all I can tell you. Land you in the lock-up soon as look at you.”
Later that evening the girl went to call on her friend, Mr. Haggard.
He was in his study among his books, and rose to greet her with that affectionate kindliness he reserved for her.
“I want to know something, Mr. Haggard,” said the girl in her determined way.
He looked at her over his spectacles.
“Can they put you in prison if you lose your money?”
“Not if you lose it honestly,” replied the vicar.
One reason the girl liked him so much was that he never played the fool. The heavy horse-chaff with which the average Englishman of the Duke’s type, in his elephantine efforts at gallantry, thinks it necessary to adorn his conversation, were not for him.
“Oh, he’ll lose it honestly all right,” cried the girl eagerly, unconscious of the fact that she was giving herself away, or careless of it.
It was not hard for the other to gauge her mind. Casually he turned over an evening paper.
“I see there’s good news about Mr. Silver’s Bank,” he said. “It’s weathered the storm.”
He pointed out to her a paragraph in the stop-press column.
The Man with the Gamp
The good news was confirmed.
That night a telegram came from Mr. Silver to say he was coming down next morning and asking them to meet him at Lewes.