Our Mutual Friend
13. Tracking The Bird Of Prey
The two lime merchants, with their escort, entered the dominions of Miss Abbey
Potterson, to whom their escort (presenting them and their pretended business
over the half-door of the bar, in a confidential way) preferred his figurative
request that 'a mouthful of fire' might be lighted in Cosy. Always well disposed to
assist the constituted authorities, Miss Abbey bade Bob Gliddery attend the
gentlemen to that retreat, and promptly enliven it with fire and gaslight. Of this
commission the bare-armed Bob, leading the way with a flaming wisp of paper,
so speedily acquitted himself, that Cosy seemed to leap out of a dark sleep and
embrace them warmly, the moment they passed the lintels of its hospitable door.
'They burn sherry very well here,' said Mr Inspector, as a piece of local
intelligence. 'Perhaps you gentlemen might like a bottle?'
The answer being By all means, Bob Gliddery received his instructions from Mr
Inspector, and departed in a becoming state of alacrity engendered by reverence
for the majesty of the law.
'It's a certain fact,' said Mr Inspector, 'that this man we have received our
information from,' indicating Riderhood with his thumb over his shoulder, 'has for
some time past given the other man a bad name arising out of your lime barges,
and that the other man has been avoided in consequence. I don't say what it
means or proves, but it's a certain fact. I had it first from one of the opposite sex
of my acquaintance,' vaguely indicating Miss Abbey with his thumb over his
shoulder, 'down away at a distance, over yonder.'
Then probably Mr Inspector was not quite unprepared for their visit that evening?
'Well you see,' said Mr Inspector, 'it was a question of making a move. It's of no
use moving if you don't know what your move is. You had better by far keep still.
In the matter of this lime, I certainly had an idea that it might lie betwixt the two
men; I always had that idea. Still I was forced to wait for a start, and I wasn't so
lucky as to get a start. This man that we have received our information from, has
got a start, and if he don't meet with a check he may make the running and come
in first. There may turn out to be something considerable for him that comes in
second, and I don't mention who may or who may not try for that place. There's
duty to do, and I shall do it, under any circumstances; to the best of my judgment
'Speaking as a shipper of lime--' began Eugene.