Page:Court Royal.djvu/43

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Something of importance must have occurred to bring you here at such a time.’

‘Not at all,’ answered Mr. Grudge. ‘Nothing of vital importance that I am aware.’

‘Then why have you come?’ exclaimed Lazarus, dropping his legs over the side of the bed. ‘Surely a letter would have sufficed. I could have run up to town to see you. You have travelled first class; I would have gone third. You are not going to charge me for your time and trainage?’

‘Make yourself easy,’ said the lawyer. ‘I had to come to Plymouth on other business than yours, and as I was here, I thought best to give you a call at a time when I knew you would be disengaged. I am staying at the Royal. I did my business during the afternoon, had my dinner, and then strolled down here.’

Lazarus breathed freely. ‘You gave me a scare,’ he said. ‘What an expense I should have been put to! Staying at the Royal! Wouldn’t a commercial inn have done as well? However, the other client pays, so it does not matter.’

‘Not at all to you,’ said Mr. Crudge with composure. ‘I know your idiosyncrasies, and accommodate myself to them.’

‘Quite so. When you act for bloated plutocrats, make them pay. Letting off blood does them good. When you act for poor hard-working labourers like myself, cut the expenses down. Our blood is watery.’

‘Enough on a topic that leads to nothing,’ said Mr. Crudge. ‘You can guess what has brought me hither.’

‘I am afraid to guess. Is it the affairs of the Duke?’

Crudge nodded.

‘How do matters stand?’

‘That depends on the point of view from which the coup d’œil is taken. From yours, excellent; from theirs, desperate. The family are constantly in want of money—renewing, mortgaging, and there must be a crash shortly. Now they want about five thousand towards finishing them.’

‘Finishing them! Finishing for ever the great Kingsbridge family! Breaking down his most noble and exalted mightiness the Marquess of Saltcombe! Sweeping away, clearing away, and utterly effacing’—he jumped off the bed, and with the tail of his dirty coat brushed the table—‘clearing away and utterly effacing the most gracious and ancient Eveleighs!’

‘Mr. Lazarus,’ said the solicitor coldly, craning his neck out of the box to watch the proceedings of the pawnbroker, ‘pray