‘At any rate, I did something,’ snarled Slivers, in a rage, ’which is more than you did, you whisky barrel.’
‘Look here, don’t you call names,’ growled Mr Villiers, in a sulky tone. ‘I’m a gentleman, remember that.’
‘You were a gentleman, you mean,’ corrected the senior partner, with a malignant glance of his one eye. ‘What are you now?’
‘A stockbroker,’ retorted the other, taking a sip of whisky.
‘And a damned poor one at that,’ replied the other, sitting on the edge of the table, which position caused his wooden leg to stick straight out, a result which he immediately utilized by pointing it threateningly in the direction of Villiers.
‘Look here,’ said that gentleman, suddenly sitting up in his chair in a defiant manner, ’drop these personalities and come to business; what’s to be done? Vandeloup is firmly established there, but there’s not the slightest chance of my wife falling in love with him.’
‘Wait,’ said Slivers, stolidly wagging his wooden leg up and down; ‘wait, you blind fool, wait.’
‘Wait for the waggon!’ shrieked Billy, behind, and then supplemented his remarks by adding, ‘Oh, my precious mother!’ as he climbed up on Slivers’ shoulder.
‘You always say wait,’ growled Villiers, not paying any attention to Billy’s interruption; ’I tell you we can’t wait much longer; they’ll drop on the Devil’s Lead shortly, and then we’ll be up a tree.’
‘Then, suppose you go out to the Pactolus and see your wife,’ suggested Slivers.
‘No go,’ returned Villiers, gloomily, ‘she’d break my head.’
‘Bah! you ain’t afraid of a woman, are you?’ snarled Slivers, viciously.
‘No, but I am of McIntosh and the rest of them,’ retorted Villiers. ’What can one man do against twenty of these devils. Why, they’d kill me if I went out there; and that infernal wife of mine wouldn’t raise her little finger to save me.’
‘You’re a devil!’ observed Billy, eyeing Villiers from his perch on Slivers’ shoulder. ‘Oh, Lord! ha! ha! ha!’ going into fits of laughter; then drawing himself suddenly up, he ejaculated ‘Pickles!’ and shut up.
‘It’s no good beating about the bush,’ said the wooden-legged man, getting down from the table. ’You go out near the claim, and see if you can catch her; then give it to her hot.’
‘What am I to say?’ asked Villiers, helplessly.
Slivers looked at him with fiery scorn in his one eye.
‘Say!’ he shrieked, waving his cork arm, ’talk about your darned honour! Say she’s dragging your noble name through the mud, and say you’ll divorce her if she don’t give you half a share in the Pactolus; that will frighten her.’
‘Pickles!’ again ejaculated the parrot.
‘Oh, no, it won’t,’ said Villiers; ’Brag’s a good dog, but he don’t bite. I’ve tried that game on before, and it was no go.’
‘Then try it your own way,’ grumbled Slivers, sulkily, going to his seat and pouring himself out some whisky. ’I don’t care what you do, as long as I get into the Pactolus, and once I’m in the devil himself won’t get me out.’