To George’s eyes this was not visible as a fault. The sergeant was as much “the swell” as George could imagine any man to be.
George Sannel could never remember with distinctness the ensuing events of that afternoon. Dim memories remained with him of the sergeant meeting his long stare with some civilities, to which he was conscious of having replied less suitably than he might have wished. At one period, certainly, bets were made upon the height of himself and the handsome soldier, respectively, and he was sure that they were put back to back, and that he proved the taller man; and that it was somehow impressed upon him that he did not look so, because the other carried himself so much better. It was also impressed upon him, somehow, that if he would consent to be well-dressed, well-fed, and well-lodged, at the expense of the country, his own appearance would quickly rival that of the sergeant, and that the reigning Sovereign would gladly pay, as well as keep and clothe, such an ornamental bulwark of the state. At some other period the sergeant had undoubtedly told him to “give it a name,” and the name he gave it was sixpenny ale, which he drank at the sergeant’s expense, and which was followed by shandy-gaff, on the same footing.
At what time and for what reason George put his hand into his left-hand waistcoat pocket he never could remember. But when he did so, and found it empty, the cry he raised had such a ring of anguish as might have awakened pity for him, even where his ill deeds were fully known.
The position was perplexing, if he had had a sober head to consider it with. That pickpockets abounded had been well impressed upon his slow intellect, and that there was no means of tracing property so lost, in the crowd and confusion of the mop. True, his property was worth “crying,” worth offering a reward for. But the pocket-book was not his, and the letter was not addressed to him; and it was doubtful if he even dare run the risk of claiming them.
His first despair was succeeded by a sort of drunken fury, in which he accused the men sitting with him of robbing him, and then swore it was the Cheap Jack, and so raved till the landlord of the King’s Arms expelled him as “drunk and disorderly,” and most of the company refused to believe that he had had any such sum of money to lose.
Exactly how or where, after this, the sergeant found him, George could not remember, but his general impression of the sergeant’s kindness was strong. He could recall that he pumped upon his head in the yard of the King’s Arms, to sober him, by George’s own request; and that it did somewhat clear his brain, his remembrance of seeing the sergeant wipe his fingers on a cambric handkerchief seems to prove. They then paced up and down together arm in arm, if not as accurately in step as might have been agreeable to the soldier. George remembered hearing of prize money, to which his own loss was a bagatelle,