‘Amen!’ said Barnes, as to a matter-of-fact affair.
Some minutes after, the two were joined by Grossby, the confectioner, who listened to the news, and observed:
‘Just like him! I’d have sworn he’d never take doctor’s stuff’; and, nodding at Kilne, ‘liked his medicine best, eh?’
‘Had a-hem!—good lot of it,’ muttered Kilne, with a suddenly serious brow.
‘How does he stand on your books?’ asked Barnes.
Kilne shouldered round, crying: ‘Who the deuce is to know?’
‘I don’t,’ Grossby sighed. ’In he comes with his “Good morning, Grossby, fine day for the hunt, Grossby,” and a ten-pound note. “Have the kindness to put that down in my favour, Grossby.” And just as I am going to say, “Look here,—this won’t do,” he has me by the collar, and there’s one of the regiments going to give a supper party, which he’s to order; or the Admiral’s wife wants the receipt for that pie; or in comes my wife, and there’s no talking of business then, though she may have been bothering about his account all the night beforehand. Something or other! and so we run on.’
‘What I want to know,’ said Barnes, the butcher, ’is where he got his tenners from?’
Kilne shook a sagacious head: ‘No knowing!’
‘I suppose we shall get something out of the fire?’ Barnes suggested.
‘That depends!’ answered the emphatic Kilne.
‘But, you know, if the widow carries on the business,’ said Grossby, ‘there’s no reason why we shouldn’t get it all, eh?’
’There ain’t two that can make clothes for nothing, and make a profit out of it,’ said Kilne.
‘That young chap in Portugal,’ added Barnes, ’he won’t take to tailoring when he comes home. D’ ye think he will?’
Kilne muttered: ‘Can’t say!’ and Grossby, a kindly creature in his way, albeit a creditor, reverting to the first subject of their discourse, ejaculated, ‘But what a one he was!—eh?’
‘Fine!—to look on,’ Kilne assented.
‘Well, he was like a Marquis,’ said Barnes.
Here the three regarded each other, and laughed, though not loudly. They instantly checked that unseemliness, and Kilne, as one who rises from the depths of a calculation with the sum in his head, spoke quite in a different voice:
’Well, what do you say, gentlemen? shall we adjourn? No use standing here.’
By the invitation to adjourn, it was well understood by the committee Kilne addressed, that they were invited to pass his threshold, and partake of a morning draught. Barnes, the butcher, had no objection whatever, and if Grossby, a man of milder make, entertained any, the occasion and common interests to be discussed, advised him to waive them. In single file these mourners entered the publican’s house, where Kilne, after summoning them from behind the bar, on the important question, what it should be? and receiving, first, perfect acquiescence in his views as to what it should be, and then feeble suggestions of the drink best befitting that early hour and the speaker’s particular constitution, poured out a toothful to each, and one to himself.