“If he’s in the house, I’ll go bail we won’t go away without seeing him,” said the parson. “Will he be at home, Kelly, do you think?”
“Indeed he will, Mr Armstrong,” said Martin; “he’ll be in bed and asleep. He’s never out of bed, I believe, much before one or two in the day. It’s a bad life he’s leading since the ould man died.”
“You may say that,” said the doctor:—“cursing and drinking; drinking and cursing; nothing else. You’ll find him curse at you dreadful, Mr Armstrong, I’m afraid.”
“I can bear that, doctor; it’s part of my own trade, you know; but I think we’ll find him quiet enough. I think you’ll find the difficulty is to make him speak at all. You’d better be spokesman, my lord, as you’re a magistrate.”
“No, Armstrong, I will not. You’re much more able, and more fitting: if it’s necessary for me to act as a magistrate, I’ll do so—but at first we’ll leave him to you.”
“Very well,” said the parson; “and I’ll do my best. But I’ll tell you what I am afraid of: if we find him in bed we must wait for him, and when the servant tells him who we are, and mentions the doctor’s name along with yours, my lord, he’ll guess what we’re come about, and he’ll be out of the window, or into the cellar, and then there’d be no catching him without the police. We must make our way up into his bed-room.”
“I don’t think we could well do that,” said the doctor.
“No, Armstrong,” said Lord Ballindine. “I don’t think we ought to force ourselves upstairs: we might as well tell all the servants what we’d come about.”
“And so we must,” said Armstrong, “if it’s necessary. The more determined we are—in fact, the rougher we are with him, the more likely we are to bring him on his knees. I tell you, you must have no scruples in dealing with such a fellow; but leave him to me;” and so saying, the parson gave a thundering rap at the hail door, and in about one minute repeated it, which brought Biddy running to the door without shoes or stockings, with her hair streaming behind her head, and, in her hand, the comb with which she had been disentangling it.
“Is your master at home?” said Armstrong.
“Begorra, he is,” said the girl out of breath. “That is, he’s not up yet, nor awake, yer honer,” and she held the door in her hand, as though this answer was final.
“But I want to see him on especial and immediate business,” said the parson, pushing back the door and the girl together, and walking into the hall. “I must see him at once. Mr Lynch will excuse me: we’ve known each other a long time.”
“Begorra, I don’t know,” said the girl, “only he’s in bed and fast. Couldn’t yer honer call agin about four or five o’clock? That’s the time the masther’s most fittest to be talking to the likes of yer honer.”
“These gentlemen could not wait,” said the parson.
“Shure the docther there, and Mr Martin, knows well enough I’m not telling you a bit of a lie, Misther Armstrong,” said the girl.