‘You wicked old wretch,’ said Miss Twexby, viciously—her nose getting redder with suppressed excitement—’go along with you, and take that irreligious parrot with you, or I’ll wake my par.’
‘He won’t thank you for doing so,’ replied Slivers, coolly; ’I’ve called to see him about some new shares just on the market, and if you don’t treat me with more respect I’ll go, and he’ll be out of a good thing.’
Now, Miss Twexby knew that Slivers was in the habit of doing business with her parent, and, moreover was a power in the share market, so she did not deem it diplomatic to go too far, and bottling up her wrath for a future occasion, when no loss would be involved, she graciously asked Slivers what he’d be pleased to have.
‘Whisky,’ said Slivers, curtly, leaning his chin on his stick, and following her movements with his one eye. ‘I say!’
‘Well?’ asked Miss Twexby, coming from behind the bar with a glass and a bottle of whisky, ‘what do you say?’
‘How’s that good-looking Frenchman?’ asked Slivers, pouring himself out some liquor, and winking at her in a rakish manner with his one eye.
‘How should I know?’ snapped Martha, angrily, ’he comes here to see that friend of his, and then clears out without as much as a good day; a nice sort of friend, indeed,’ wrathfully, ’stopping here nearly two weeks and drunk all the time; he’ll be having delirious trimmings before he’s done.’
‘Who will ?’ said Slivers, taking a sip of his whisky and water.
‘Why, that other Frenchman!’ retorted Martha, going to her place behind the bar, ’Peter something; a low, black wretch, all beard, with no tongue, and a thirst like a lime-kiln.’
‘Oh, the dumb man.’
Miss Twexby nodded.
‘That’s him,’ she said, triumphantly, ’he’s been here for the last two weeks.’
‘Drunk, I think you said,’ remarked Slivers, politely.
Martha laughed scornfully, and took out some sewing.
‘I should just think so,’ she retorted, tossing her head, ’he does nothing but drink all day, and run after people with that knife.’
‘Very dangerous,’ observed Slivers, gravely shaking his head; ’why don’t you get rid of him?’
‘So we are,’ said Miss Twexby, biting off a bit of cotton, as if she wished it were Pierre’s head; ’he is going down to Melbourne the day after to-morrow.’
Slivers got weary of hearing about Pierre, and plunged right off into the object of his visit.
‘That Vandeloup,’ he began.
‘Well?’ said Miss Twexby, letting the work fall on her lap.
‘What time did he come home the night he stopped here?’
‘Get along with you,’ said Slivers, in disgust, ’you mean three o’clock.’
‘No, I don’t,’ retorted Martha, indignantly; ’you’ll be telling me I don’t know the time next.’
’Did he go out again?
‘No, he went to bed.’