Charles Dickens, Bleak House: Ch. 26

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"Has he?" says Mr. George.  "I am sorry to hear it."

"Yes, sir." Grandfather Smallweed rubs his legs.  "He is a fine young soldier now, Mr. George, by the name of Carstone.  Friends came forward and paid it all up, honourable."

"Did they?" returns Mr. George.  "Do you think your friend in the city would like a piece of advice?"

"I think he would, my dear friend.  From you."

"I advise him, then, to do no more business in that quarter.  There's no more to be got by it.  The young gentleman, to my knowledge, is brought to a dead halt."

"No, no, my dear friend.  No, no, Mr. George.  No, no, no, sir," remonstrates Grandfather Smallweed, cunningly rubbing his spare legs.  "Not quite a dead halt, I think.  He has good friends, and he is good for his pay, and he is good for the selling price of his commission, and he is good for his chance in a lawsuit, and he is good for his chance in a wife, and—oh, do you know, Mr. George, I think my friend would consider the young gentleman good for something yet?" says Grandfather Smallweed, turning up his velvet cap and scratching his ear like a monkey.

Mr. George, who has put aside his pipe and sits with an arm on his chair-back, beats a tattoo on the ground with his right foot as if he were not particularly pleased with the turn the conversation has taken.

"But to pass from one subject to another," resumes Mr. Smallweed.  "'To promote the conversation,' as a joker might say.  To pass, Mr. George, from the ensign to the captain."

"What are you up to, now?" asks Mr. George, pausing with a frown in stroking the recollection of his moustache.  "What captain?"

"Our captain.  The captain we know of.  Captain Hawdon."

"Oh!  That's it, is it?" says Mr. George with a low whistle as he sees both grandfather and granddaughter looking hard at him.  "You are there!  Well?  What about it?  Come, I won't be smothered any more.  Speak!"

"My dear friend," returns the old man, "I was applied—Judy, shake me up a little!—I was applied to yesterday about the captain, and my opinion still is that the captain is not dead."

"Bosh!" observes Mr. George.

"What was your remark, my dear friend?" inquires the old man with his hand to his ear.


"Ho!" says Grandfather Smallweed.  "Mr. George, of my opinion you can judge for yourself according to the questions asked of me and the reasons given for asking 'em.  Now, what do you think the lawyer making the inquiries wants?"

"A job," says Mr. George.

"Nothing of the kind!"

"Can't be a lawyer, then," says Mr. George, folding his arms with an air of confirmed resolution.

"My dear friend, he is a lawyer, and a famous one.  He wants to see some fragment in Captain Hawdon's writing.  He don't want to keep it.  He only wants to see it and compare it with a writing in his possession."


"Well, Mr. George.  Happening to remember the advertisement concerning Captain Hawdon and any information that could be given respecting him, he looked it up and came to me—just as you did, my dear friend.  WILL you shake hands?  So glad you came that day!  I should have missed forming such a friendship if you hadn't come!"

"Well, Mr. Smallweed?" says Mr. George again after going through the ceremony with some stiffness.