BOOK THE THIRD: A LONG LANE
Chapter 13: Give a Dog a Bad Name, and Hang Him
Fascination Fledgeby, left alone in the counting-house, strolled
about with his hat on one side, whistling, and investigating the
drawers, and prying here and there for any small evidences of his
being cheated, but could find none. 'Not his merit that he don't
cheat me,' was Mr Fledgeby's commentary delivered with a wink,
'but my precaution.' He then with a lazy grandeur asserted his
rights as lord of Pubsey and Co. by poking his cane at the stools
and boxes, and spitting in the fireplace, and so loitered royally to
the window and looked out into the narrow street, with his small
eyes just peering over the top of Pubsey and Co.'s blind. As a
blind in more senses than one, it reminded him that he was alone
in the counting-house with the front door open. He was moving
away to shut it, lest he should be injudiciously identified with the
establishment, when he was stopped by some one coming to the
This some one was the dolls' dressmaker, with a little basket on
her arm, and her crutch stick in her hand. Her keen eyes had
espied Mr Fledgeby before Mr Fledgeby had espied her, and he
was paralysed in his purpose of shutting her out, not so much by
her approaching the door, as by her favouring him with a shower of
nods, the instant he saw her. This advantage she improved by
hobbling up the steps with such despatch that before Mr Fledgeby
could take measures for her finding nobody at home, she was face
to face with him in the counting-house.
'Hope I see you well, sir,' said Miss Wren. 'Mr Riah in?'
Fledgeby had dropped into a chair, in the attitude of one waiting
wearily. 'I suppose he will be back soon,' he replied; 'he has cut
out and left me expecting him back, in an odd way. Haven't I seen
'Once before--if you had your eyesight,' replied Miss Wren; the
conditional clause in an under-tone.
'When you were carrying on some games up at the top of the
house. I remember. How's your friend?'
'I have more friends than one, sir, I hope,' replied Miss Wren.