"Joke!" echoed Sharp. "That
copy of Bunyan which Miss M’Falzen was lending to Mrs Bairnsfather that
day when we went to Cockenzie, is now in the hands of the
"Oh, the devout maiden
lends it to everybody," replied Samuel. "She will be to get the fiscal to
reclaim sinners by it, rather than to punish them by the arm of the law."
"Is it possible, Mr
Thriven, that you can thus make light of an affair that involves
banishment?" said Sharp. "Did you really write on a blank leaf of
that book the details of the profit you were to make of the burning?"
Samuel jumped at least
three feet from the floor; and when he came down again, he muttered
strange things, and did strange things, which no pen could describe,
because they were unique, had no appropriate symbols in language, had
never been muttered or done before since the beginning of the world, and,
probably, will never be again. It might, however, have been gathered from
his ravings, that he had some recollection of having scribbled
something about his failure, but that he thought it was in the blank leaf
of a pocket-book, the which book he grasped and examined, but all was a
dead blank. He then threw himself on a chair, and twisted himself into all
possible shapes, cursing Miss Angelina M’Falzen, himself, his creditors,
every one who had the smallest share in this tremendous revolution from
wealth, hopes of a high match, buggy, servant with silver lace, even to
disgrace, confiscation, and banishment.
"You are renowned for the
quickness, loopiness, subtleness, of thy profession. Can you not assist
me, Sharp? A man’s scrawls are not evidence of themselves."
"But, with the testimony of
Clossmuns, who has returned from Liverpool, they will be conclusive,"
replied the attorney, whose game now lay in Mr Samuel’s misfortunes. "Such
evidence never went before a jury since the time of the
"What then is to be done?"
"Fly! fly! and leave me a
power of attorney to collect your moneys. There is two thousand of Grizel
M’Whirter’s fortune still to uplift—your stock in trade is to be disposed
of—I will manage it beautifully for you, and, in spite of an outlawry, get
the proceeds sent to you wheresoever you go."
ejaculated the other, "to fly one’s country, and leave one’s affairs in
the hands of an attorney."
"Better than banishment,"
replied Sharp, grinding his teeth as if sharp set for the quarry that lay
before him. "What do you resolve on? shall I write out the power of
attorney, or will you wait till the officers are on you?" muttering to
himself in conclusion—"a few six and eightpences—i’ faith I have him now!"
"Then there is no
alternative?" rejoined Samuel.
"None!" replied Sharp. "I
have it on good authority that the warrant against you was in the act of
being written out, when I hurried here, as you find, to save you. Shall I
prepare the commission?"
"Yes—yes! as quick as an
ellwand that leaps three inches short of the yard."
And, while he continued in
this extremity of his despair, Sharp set about writing at the
factory—short and general— giving all powers of uplifting money, and
reserving none. It was signed. In a few minutes more Mr Thriven was in a
post-chaise, driving on to a sea-port in England. The news of the flight
of the honest merchant, with all the circumstances, soon reached the ear
of the devout spinster, even as she was weeping over the result of the
interview she had had with her cruel lover. She wiped her eyes and
repressed her sobs, and congratulated herself on the consequences of her
devout labours. Mr Thriven was not heard of again: neither was his cash.