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'And what the devil's a put-up thing?' demanded the doctor,
'We call it a put-up robbery, ladies,' said Blathers, turning to
them, as if he pitied their ignorance, but had a contempt for the
doctor's, 'when the servants is in it.'
'Nobody suspected them, in this case,' said Mrs. Maylie.
'Wery likely not, ma'am,' replied Blathers; 'but they might have
been in it, for all that.'
'More likely on that wery account,' said Duff.
'We find it was a town hand,' said Blathers, continuing his
report; 'for the style of work is first-rate.'
'Wery pretty indeed it is,' remarked Duff, in an undertone.
'There was two of 'em in it,' continued Blathers; 'and they had a
boy with 'em; that's plain from the size of the window. That's
all to be said at present. We'll see this lad that you've got
upstairs at once, if you please.'
'Perhaps they will take something to drink first, Mrs. Maylie?'
said the doctor: his face brightening, as if some new thought had
occurred to him.
'Oh! to be sure!' exclaimed Rose, eagerly. 'You shall have it
immediately, if you will.'
'Why, thank you, miss!' said Blathers, drawing his coat-sleeve
across his mouth; 'it's dry work, this sort of duty. Anythink
that's handy, miss; don't put yourself out of the way, on our
'What shall it be?' asked the doctor, following the young lady to
'A little drop of spirits, master, if it's all the same,' replied
Blathers. 'It's a cold ride from London, ma'am; and I always
find that spirits comes home warmer to the feelings.'
This interesting communication was addressed to Mrs. Maylie, who
received it very graciously. While it was being conveyed to her,
the doctor slipped out of the room.
'Ah!' said Mr. Blathers: not holding his wine-glass by the stem,
but grasping the bottom between the thumb and forefinger of his
left hand: and placing it in front of his chest; 'I have seen a
good many pieces of business like this, in my time, ladies.'
'That crack down in the back lane at Edmonton, Blathers,' said
Mr. Duff, assisting his colleague's memory.
'That was something in this way, warn't it?' rejoined Mr.
Blathers; 'that was done by Conkey Chickweed, that was.'
'You always gave that to him' replied Duff. 'It was the Family
Pet, I tell you. Conkey hadn't any more to do with it than I
'Get out!' retorted Mr. Blathers; 'I know better. Do you mind
that time when Conkey was robbed of his money, though? What a
start that was! Better than any novel-book _I_ ever see!'
'What was that?' inquired Rose: anxious to encourage any
symptoms of good-humour in the unwelcome visitors.
'It was a robbery, miss, that hardly anybody would have been down
upon,' said Blathers. 'This here Conkey Chickweed--'
'Conkey means Nosey, ma'am,' interposed Duff.
'Of course the lady knows that, don't she?' demanded Mr.
Blathers. 'Always interrupting, you are, partner! This here
Conkey Chickweed, miss, kept a public-house over Battlebridge
way, and he had a cellar, where a good many young lords went to
see cock-fighting, and badger-drawing, and that; and a wery
intellectural manner the sports was conducted in, for I've seen
'em off'en. He warn't one of the family, at that time; and one
night he was robbed of three hundred and twenty-seven guineas in
a canvas bag, that was stole out of his bedrrom in the dead of
night, by a tall man with a black patch over his eye, who had
concealed himself under the bed, and after committing the
robbery, jumped slap out of window: which was only a story high.
He was wery quick about it. But Conkey was quick, too; for he
fired a blunderbuss arter him, and roused the neighbourhood. They
set up a hue-and-cry, directly, and when they came to look about
'em, found that Conkey had hit the robber; for there was traces
of blood, all the way to some palings a good distance off; and
there they lost 'em. However, he had made off with the blunt;
and, consequently, the name of Mr. Chickweed, licensed witler,
appeared in the Gazette among the other bankrupts; and all manner
of benefits and subscriptions, and I don't know what all, was got
up for the poor man, who was in a wery low state of mind about
his loss, and went up and down the streets, for three or four
days, a pulling his hair off in such a desperate manner that many
people was afraid he might be going to make away with himself.
One day he came up to the office, all in a hurry, and had a
private interview with the magistrate, who, after a deal of talk,
rings the bell, and orders Jem Spyers in (Jem was a active
officer), and tells him to go and assist Mr. Chickweed in
apprehending the man as robbed his house. "I see him, Spyers,"
said Chickweed, "pass my house yesterday morning," "Why didn't
you up, and collar him!" says Spyers. "I was so struck all of a
heap, that you might have fractured my skull with a toothpick,"
says the poor man; "but we're sure to have him; for between ten
and eleven o'clock at night he passed again." Spyers no sooner
heard this, than he put some clean linen and a comb, in his
pocket, in case he should have to stop a day or two; and away he
goes, and sets himself down at one of the public-house windows
behind the little red curtain, with his hat on, all ready to bolt
out, at a moment's notice. He was smoking his pipe here, late at
night, when all of a sudden Chickweed roars out, "Here he is!
Stop thief! Murder!" Jem Spyers dashes out; and there he sees
Chickweed, a-tearing down the street full cry. Away goes Spyers;
on goes Chickweed; round turns the people; everybody roars out,
"Thieves!" and Chickweed himself keeps on shouting, all the time,
like mad. Spyers loses sight of him a minute as he turns a
corner; shoots round; sees a little crowd; dives in; "Which is
the man?" "D--me!" says Chickweed, "I've lost him again!" It
was a remarkable occurrence, but he warn't to be seen nowhere, so
they went back to the public-house. Next morning, Spyers took his
old place, and looked out, from behind the curtain, for a tall
man with a black patch over his eye, till his own two eyes ached
again. At last, he couldn't help shutting 'em, to ease 'em a
minute; and the very moment he did so, he hears Chickweed
a-roaring out, "Here he is!" Off he starts once more, with
Chickweed half-way down the street ahead of him; and after twice
as long a run as the yesterday's one, the man's lost again! This
was done, once or twice more, till one-half the neighbours gave
out that Mr. Chickweed had been robbed by the devil, who was
playing tricks with him arterwards; and the other half, that poor
Mr. Chickweed had gone mad with grief.'
'What did Jem Spyers say?' inquired the doctor; who had returned
to the room shortly after the commencement of the story.
'Jem Spyers,' resumed the officer, 'for a long time said nothing
at all, and listened to everything without seeming to, which
showed he understood his business. But, one morning, he walked
into the bar, and taking out his snuffbox, says "Chickweed, I've
found out who done this here robbery." "Have you?" said
Chickweed. "Oh, my dear Spyers, only let me have wengeance, and
I shall die contented! Oh, my dear Spyers, where is the
villain!" "Come!" said Spyers, offering him a pinch of snuff,
"none of that gammon! You did it yourself." So he had; and a
good bit of money he had made by it, too; and nobody would never
have found it out, if he hadn't been so precious anxious to keep
up appearances!' said Mr. Blathers, putting down his wine-glass,
and clinking the handcuffs together.
'Very curious, indeed,' observed the doctor. 'Now, if you
please, you can walk upstairs.'
'If YOU please, sir,' returned Mr. Blathers. Closely following
Mr. Losberne, the two officers ascended to Oliver's bedroom; Mr.
Giles preceding the party, with a lighted candle.
Oliver had been dozing; but looked worse, and was more feverish
than he had appeared yet. Being assisted by the doctor, he
managed to sit up in bed for a minute or so; and looked at the
strangers without at all understanding what was going forward--in
fact, without seeming to recollect where he was, or what had been
'This,' said Mr. Losberne, speaking softly, but with great
vehemence notwithstanding, 'this is the lad, who, being
accidently wounded by a spring-gun in some boyish trespass on Mr.
What-d' ye-call-him's grounds, at the back here, comes to the
house for assistance this morning, and is immediately laid hold
of and maltreated, by that ingenious gentleman with the candle in
his hand: who has placed his life in considerable danger, as I
can professionally certify.'
Messrs. Blathers and Duff looked at Mr. Giles, as he was thus
recommended to their notice. The bewildered butler gazed from
them towards Oliver, and from Oliver towards Mr. Losberne, with a
most ludicrous mixture of fear and perplexity.
'You don't mean to deny that, I suppose?' said the doctor, laying
Oliver gently down again.
'It was all done for the--for the best, sir,' answered Giles. 'I
am sure I thought it was the boy, or I wouldn't have meddled with
him. I am not of an inhuman disposition, sir.'
'Thought it was what boy?' inquired the senior officer.
'The housebreaker's boy, sir!' replied Giles. 'They--they
certainly had a boy.'
'Well? Do you think so now?' inquired Blathers.
'Think what, now?' replied Giles, looking vacantly at his
'Think it's the same boy, Stupid-head?' rejoined Blathers,