A Rogue's Life
While these words were being spoken, I saw Screw's eyes wandering
discontentedly and amazedly round the room. He had left me in it with the doctor
before he went out: was he disappointed at not finding me in it on his return?
While this thought was passing through my mind, the stranger resumed his
"We are here," he said, "as agents appointed to transact private business, out of
London, for Mr. Manasseh, with whom you have dealings, I think?"
"Certainly," said the doctor, with a smile.
"And who owes you a little account, which we are appointed to settle."
"Just so!" remarked the doctor, pleasantly rubbing his hands one over the other.
"My good friend, Mr. Manasseh, does not like to trust the post, I suppose? Very
glad to make your acquaintance, gentlemen. Have you got the little
memorandum about you?"
"Yes; but we think there is a slight inaccuracy in it. Have you any objection to let
us refer to your ledger?"
"Not the least in the world. Screw, go down into my private laboratory, open the
table-drawer nearest the window, and bring up a locked book, with a parchment
cover, which you will find in it."
As Screw obeyed I saw a look pass between him and the two strangers which
made me begin to feel a little uneasy. I thought the doctor noticed it too; but he
preserved his countenance, as usual, in a state of the most unruffled composure.
"What a time that fellow is gone!" he exclaimed gayly. "Perhaps I had better go
and get the book myself."
The two strangers had been gradually lessening the distance between the doctor
and themselves, ever since Screw had left the room. The last words were barely
out of his mouth, before they both sprang upon him, and pinioned his arms with
"Steady, my fine fellow," said Mr. Manasseh's head agent. "It's no go. We are
Bow Street runners, and we've got you for coining."
"Not a doubt of it," said the doctor, with the most superb coolness. "You needn't
hold me. I'm not fool enough to resist when I'm fairly caught."
"Wait till we've searched you; and then we'll talk about that," said the runner.*