A Rogue's Life
ONE morning I was engaged in the principal workroom with my employer. We
were alone. Old File and his son were occupied in the garrets. Screw had been
sent to Barkingham, accompanied, on the usual precautionary plan, by Mill. They
had been gone nearly an hour when the doctor sent me into the next room to
moisten and knead up some plaster of Paris. While I was engaged in this
occupation, I suddenly heard strange voices in the large workroom. My curiosity
was instantly excited. I drew back the little shutter from the peephole in the wall,
and looked through it.
I saw first my old enemy, Screw, with his villainous face much paler than usual;
next, two respectably-dressed strangers whom he appeared to have brought into
the room; and next to them Young File, addressing himself to the doctor.
"I beg your pardon, sir," said my friend, the workman-like footman; "but before
these gentlemen say anything for themselves, I wish to explain, as they seem
strangers to you, that I only let them in after I had heard them give the password.
My instructions are to let anybody in on our side of the door if they can give the
password. No offense, sir, but I want it to be understood that I have done my
"Quite right, my man," said the doctor, in his blandest manner. "You may go back
to your work."
Young File left the room, with a scrutinizing look for the two strangers and a
suspicious frown for Screw.
"Allow us to introduce ourselves," began the elder of the two strangers.
"Pardon me for a moment," interposed the doctor. "Where is Mill?" he added,
turning to Screw.
"Doing our errands at Barkingham," answered Screw, turning paler than ever.
"We happened to meet your two men, and to ask them the way to your house,"
said the stranger who had just spoken. "This man, with a caution that does him
infinite credit, required to know our business before he told us. We managed to
introduce the password--'Happy-go-lucky'--into our answer. This of course
quieted suspicion; and he, at our request, guided us here, leaving his fellow-
workman, as he has just told you, to do all errands at Barkingham."