enemy in some compatriot who could exercise a privilege that I in my own time have known the boldest people afraid to speak of in a whisper, across the water there; for instance, the privilege of filling up blank forms for the consignment of any one to the oblivion of a prison for any length of time; if his wife had implored the king, the queen, the court, the clergy, for any tidings of him, and all quite in vain;—then the history of your father would have been the history of this unfortunate gentleman, the Doctor of Beauvais."
"I entreat you to tell me more, sir."
"I will. I am going to. You can bear it?"
"I can bear anything but the uncertainty you leave me in at this moment."
"You speak collectedly, and you—are collected. That's good!" (Though his manner was less satisfied than his words.) "A matter of business. Regard it as a matter of busines—business that must be done. Now if this doctor's wife, though a lady of great courage and spirit, had suffered so intensely from this cause before her little child was born——"
"The little child was a daughter, sir."
"A daughter. A—a—matter of business—don't be distressed. Miss, if the poor lady had suffered so intensely before her little child was born, that she came to the determination of sparing the poor child the inheritance of any part of the agony she had known the pains of, by rearing her in the belief that her father was dead——No, don't kneel! In Heaven's name why should you kneel to me!"
"For the truth. O dear, good, compassionate sir, for the truth!"
"A—a—matter of business. You confuse me, and how can I transact business if I am confused? Let us be clear-headed. If you could kindly mention now, for instance, what nine times ninepence are, or how many shillings in twenty guineas, it would be so encouraging. I should be so much more at my ease about your state of mind."