The sinister glance—Excellent correspondent—Quite original—My system—A losing trade—Merit—Starting a Review—What have you got?—Stop!—Dairyman’s Daughter—Oxford principles—More conversation—How is this?
There were two individuals in the room in which I now found myself; it was a small study, surrounded with bookcases, the window looking out upon the square. Of these individuals he who appeared to be the principal stood with his back to the fireplace. He was a tall stout man, about sixty, dressed in a loose morning gown. The expression of his countenance would have been bluff but for a certain sinister glance, and his complexion might have been called rubicund but for a considerable tinge of bilious yellow. He eyed me askance as I entered. The other, a pale, shrivelled-looking person, sat at a table apparently engaged with an account-book; he took no manner of notice of me, never once lifting his eyes from the page before him.
‘Well, sir, what is your pleasure?’ said the big man, in a rough tone, as I stood there, looking at him wistfully—as well I might—for upon that man, at the time of which I am speaking, my principal, I may say my only, hopes rested.
‘Sir,’ said I, ’my name is so-and-so, and I am the bearer of a letter to you from Mr. so-and-so, an old friend and correspondent of yours.’
The countenance of the big man instantly lost the suspicious and lowering expression which it had hitherto exhibited; he strode forward, and, seizing me by the hand, gave me a violent squeeze.
‘My dear sir,’ said he, ’I am rejoiced to see you in London. I have been long anxious for the pleasure—we are old friends, though we have never before met. Taggart,’ said he to the man who sat at the desk, ’this is our excellent correspondent, the friend and pupil of our other excellent correspondent.’