« PredošláPokračovať »
in Ellen's blushes that sorely galled him. He could not help thinking that the fuss they were making about a common sailor-boy, and the laughing and the crying they indulged in over Joshua's stupid letters, were utterly ridiculous, and in a sort of way derogatory to himself, Dan's best patron. As the night wore on, his anger and uneasiness increased; and yet he lingered until the last moment, torturing himself with all kinds of speculations as to what was the nature of the feeling that Ellen entertained for Joshua. Every expression of gladness that fell from her lips concerning Joshua and Joshua's career was painful to him, and it was with a bitter heart that he left the house, with the flower still in his coat. He was hot and feverish as he closed the street-door behind him, and he was not sorry to find that a heavy rain was falling. He took off his hat and bared his head to the rain. Within the house he had been compelled to repress expression of his feelings; it was a relief to him now to feel that no one was by, and that he could speak out at last. And the first words he uttered, as he smoothed his wet hair and put on his hat, were, Damn Joshua Marvel! I would give money to drown him!' As he spoke the words aloud, he was con
scious of a slouching figure at his side. Although it was raining, the night was not quite dark; there was enough light for him to notice that the man who had approached him was in rags-most probably a beggar. Muttering that he had nothing to give, Solomon Fewster walked on. But the man was not to be so easily shaken off, and Mr. Fewster being in an eminently quarrelsome mood turned upon him, and repeated in no civil tone that he had nothing to give.
'I have not asked you for anything,' said the man surlily, 'though if I had, you might speak to me more civilly, Mr. Fewster.'
They were passing a lamp-post, and attracted by the utterance of his name, Mr. Fewster stopped and said, How do
know 'I know it ; that is enough,' was the answer.
Ah,' said Mr. Fewster, regarding the Lascar with curiosity and recognising him, 'I have seen you before, my man.'
• That is not saying much against me, master,' said the Lascar rather sneeringly. 'I have seen you before; so we're equal.'
· And whenever I have seen you, it has been in this street,' continued Mr. Fewster.
“And pretty well whenever I have seen you, it has been in this street,' retorted the Lascar; you seem to be as fond of it as I am.'
· And generally of a night.'
* The same to you, master; and what then ? The street is free to me as it is to you. Look you. I know more than you are aware of. If it comes to that, why do you go so often to that house ?' The sudden look of discomposure that flashed into Mr. Fewster's face was not lost upon the Lascar, who had seen him walking by Ellen's side more than once, and who had stealthily followed them on every occasion. “Look you, master. What one man does for love, another man does for hate.'
· Hate of whom? What do you mean?'
"The people in that house have received letters from Joshua Marvel to-day.'
Well, what of that ?'
• What of that !' cried the Lascar, in a voice of suppressed passion, and yet with a cunning watchfulness of Mr. Fewster's face, as if he were watching for a cue to speak more plainly. Well, nothing much, master; except that I should like to know when the cub is coming home.'
Mr. Fewster could not help an expression of satisfaction passing into his eyes as he heard
Joshua spoken of as a cub, and the Lascar saw it and took his cue from it.
• What do you want to know for? What is Joshua Marvel to you ?'
'He is this to me,' cried the Lascar, the dark blood rushing into his face and making it darker ;
that if I had him here, I would stamp upon him with my feet and spoil his beauty for him! He is this to me, that if I could twist his heart-strings. I would do it, and laugh in his face the while ! See me now, master; look at me well. I did not ask you for money, for I know you, and I know you don't give nothing for nothing. But I might have asked you, and with reason, for I want it. Look at my feet' (Mr. Fewster noticed, for the first time, that the Lascar's feet were bare); 'look at my clothes-rags. That old thief, Praiseworthy Meddler, kicked me off his barge where I've lived and slept this many a year.
And every blow he struck at me went down to Joshua Marvel's account, and makes it heavier against him. See you; the Lascar dog never forgets. I've sworn an oath, and I'll keep it. I've put a cross against him, and he shall see it when he is dying.'
Solomon Fewster looked at the wretch before him, quivering with passion and shivering with
cold, and deliberately cracked his fingers one after another. When the operation was concluded, he said lightly, as taking no interest in what the Lascar had said,
. That is your business, my friend; not mine. I will tell you as far as I know about this young gentleman who has served you so well. He is not coming home yet awhile, I believe—not before the end of the year, perhaps. I daresay you'll manage to see him when he does come home.'
'Yes, I'll manage to see him then,' said the Lascar, with a sudden quietude of manner and with a furtive look at Mr. Fewster's face—a look which said, “You are trying to deceive me, master; let us see who is the more cunning—you or I. Then aloud, Thank you for answering my ques
tion. You say it is not your business, this hate of mine for Joshua Marvel. Yet there may be something in common between us, for I've seen you walking with the girl who worships Joshua Marvel.'
'How do you know that she worships him ?' demanded Mr. Fewster, thrown off his guard, his heart beating loud and fast.
Because I am not blind. I know that as well as I know that you have as much cause to