'I see there's a notice up this morning about Boffer,' observed Mr. Simmery. 'Poor devil, he's expelled the house!'
'I'll bet you ten guineas to five, he cuts his throat,' said Wilkins Flasher, Esquire.
'Done,' replied Mr. Simmery.
'Stop! I bar,' said Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, thoughtfully. 'Perhaps he may hang himself.'
'Very good,' rejoined Mr. Simmery, pulling out the gold pencil-case again. 'I've no objection to take you that way. Say, makes away with himself.'
'Kills himself, in fact,' said Wilkins Flasher, Esquire.
'Just so,' replied Mr. Simmery, putting it down. '"Flasher — ten guineas to five, Boffer kills himself." Within what time shall we say?'
'A fortnight?' suggested Wilkins Flasher, Esquire.
'Con-found it, no,' rejoined Mr. Simmery, stopping for an instant to smash a fly with the ruler. 'Say a week.'
'Split the difference,' said Wilkins Flasher, Esquire. 'Make it ten days.'
'Well; ten days,'rejoined Mr. Simmery.
So it was entered down on the little books that Boffer was to kill himself within ten days, or Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, was to hand over to Frank Simmery, Esquire, the sum of ten guineas; and that if Boffer did kill himself within that time, Frank Simmery, Esquire, would pay to Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, five guineas, instead.
'I'm very sorry he has failed,' said Wilkins Flasher, Esquire. 'Capital dinners he gave.'
'Fine port he had too,' remarked Mr. Simmery. 'We are going to send our butler to the sale to-morrow, to pick up some of that sixty-four.'
'The devil you are!' said Wilkins Flasher, Esquire. 'My man's going too. Five guineas my man outbids your man.'
Another entry was made in the little books, with the gold pencil-cases; and Mr. Simmery, having by this time killed all the flies and taken all the bets, strolled away to the Stock Exchange to see what was going forward.
Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, now condescended to receive Mr. Solomon Pell's instructions, and having filled up some printed forms, requested the party to follow him to the bank, which they did: Mr. Weller and his three friends staring at all they beheld in unbounded astonishment, and Sam encountering everything with a coolness which nothing could disturb.
Crossing a courtyard which was all noise and bustle, and passing a couple of porters who seemed dressed to match the red fire engine which was wheeled away into a corner, they passed into an office where their business was to be transacted, and where Pell and Mr. Flasher left them standing for a few moments, while they went upstairs into the Will Office.
'Wot place is this here?' whispered the mottled-faced gentleman to the elder Mr. Weller.
'Counsel's Office,' replied the executor in a whisper.
'Wot are them gen'l'men a-settin' behind the counters?' asked the hoarse coachman.
'Reduced counsels, I s'pose,' replied Mr. Weller. 'Ain't they the reduced counsels, Samivel?'
'Wy, you don't suppose the reduced counsels is alive, do you?' inquired Sam, with some disdain.
'How should I know?' retorted Mr. Weller; 'I thought they looked wery like it. Wot are they, then?'
'Clerks,' replied Sam.
'Wot are they all a-eatin' ham sangwidges for?' inquired his father.
''Cos it's in their dooty, I suppose,' replied Sam, 'it's a part o' the system; they're alvays a-doin' it here, all day long!' Mr. Weller and his friends had scarcely had a moment to reflect upon this singular regulation as connected with the monetary system of the country, when they were rejoined by Pell and Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, who led them to a part of the counter above which was a round blackboard with a large 'W.' on it.
'Wot's that for, Sir?' inquired Mr. Weller, directing Pell's attention to the target in question.
'The first letter of the name of the deceased,' replied Pell.
'I say,' said Mr. Weller, turning round to the umpires, there's somethin' wrong here. We's our letter — this won't do.'
The referees at once gave it as their decided opinion that the business could not be legally proceeded with, under the letter W., and in all probability it would have stood over for one day at least, had it not been for the prompt, though, at first sight, undutiful behaviour of Sam, who, seizing his father by the skirt of the coat, dragged him to the counter, and pinned him there, until he had affixed his signature to a couple of instruments; which, from Mr. Weller's habit of printing, was a work of so much labour and time, that the officiating clerk peeled and ate three Ribstone pippins while it was performing.
As the elder Mr. Weller insisted on selling out his portion forthwith, they proceeded from the bank to the gate of the Stock Exchange, to which Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, after a short absence, returned with a cheque on Smith, Payne, & Smith, for five hundred and thirty pounds; that being the money to which Mr. Weller, at the market price of the day, was entitled, in consideration of the balance of the second Mrs. Weller's funded savings. Sam's two hundred pounds stood transferred to his name, and Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, having been paid his commission, dropped the money carelessly into his coat pocket, and lounged back to his office.
Mr. Weller was at first obstinately determined on cashing the cheque in nothing but sovereigns; but it being represented by the umpires that by so doing he must incur the expense of a small sack to carry them home in, he consented to receive the amount in five-pound notes.
'My son,' said Mr. Weller, as they came out of the banking-house — 'my son and me has a wery partickler engagement this arternoon, and I should like to have this here bis'ness settled out of hand, so let's jest go straight avay someveres, vere ve can hordit the accounts.'
A quiet room was soon found, and the accounts were produced and audited. Mr. Pell's bill was taxed by Sam, and some charges were disallowed by the umpires; but, notwithstanding Mr. Pell's declaration, accompanied with many solemn asseverations that they were really too hard upon him, it was by very many degrees the best professional job he had ever had, and one on which he boarded, lodged, and washed, for six months afterwards.
The umpires having partaken of a dram, shook hands and departed, as they had to drive out of town that night. Mr. Solomon Pell, finding that nothing more was going forward, either in the eating or drinking way, took a friendly leave, and Sam and his father were left alone.
'There!' said Mr. Weller, thrusting his pocket-book in his side pocket. 'Vith the bills for the lease, and that, there's eleven hundred and eighty pound here. Now, Samivel, my boy, turn the horses' heads to the George and Wulter!'