“It is hard no doubt,” said the barrister, who had gone through it all, and was now reaping the fruits of it. “But I suppose you have not forgotten what you learned?”
“Who can say? I dare say I have. But I did not mean the drudgery of learning, so much as the drudgery of looking after work;—of expecting briefs which perhaps will never come. I am thirty years old now, you know.”
“Are you indeed?” said Mrs. Low,—who knew his age to a day. “How the time passes. I’m sure I hope you’ll get on, Mr. Finn. I do indeed.”
“I am sure he will, if he puts his shoulder to it,” said Mr. Low.
Neither the lawyer nor his wife repeated any of those sententious admonitions, which had almost become rebukes, and which had been so common in their mouths. The fall with which they had threatened Phineas Finn had come upon him, and they were too generous to remind him of their wisdom and sagacity. Indeed, when he got up to take his leave, Mrs. Low, who probably might not see him again for years, was quite affectionate in her manners to him, and looked as if she were almost minded to kiss him as she pressed his hand. “We will come and see you,” she said, “when you are Master of the Rolls in Dublin.”
“We shall see him before then thundering at us poor Tories in the House,” said Mr. Low. “He will be back again sooner or later.” And so they parted.
P. P. C.
On the Thursday morning before Phineas went to Mr. Monk, a gentleman called upon him at his lodgings. Phineas requested the servant to bring up the gentleman’s name, but tempted perhaps by a shilling the girl brought up the gentleman instead. It was Mr. Quintus Slide from the office of the “Banner of the People.”
“Mr. Finn,” said Quintus, with his hand extended, “I have come to offer you the calumet of peace.” Phineas certainly desired no such calumet. But to refuse a man’s hand is to declare active war after a fashion which men do not like to adopt except on deliberation. He had never cared a straw for the abuse which Mr. Slide had poured upon him, and now he gave his hand to the man of letters. But he did not sit down, nor did he offer a seat to Mr. Slide. “I know that as a man of sense who knows the world, you will accept the calumet of peace,” continued Mr. Slide.
“I don’t know why I should be asked particularly to accept war or peace,” said Phineas.
“Well, Mr. Finn,—I don’t often quote the Bible; but those who are not for us must be against us. You will agree to that. Now that you’ve freed yourself from the iniquities of that sink of abomination in Downing Street, I look upon you as a man again.”
“Upon my word you are very kind.”
“As a man and also a brother. I suppose you know that I’ve got the Banner into my own ’ands now.” Phineas was obliged to explain that he had not hitherto been made acquainted with this great literary and political secret. “Oh dear, yes, altogether so. We’ve got rid of old Rusty as I used to call him. He wouldn’t go the pace, and so we stripped him. He’s doing the West of England Art Journal now, and he ’angs out down at Bristol.”