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III.5. Pedgift's Remedy
After waiting to hold a preliminary consultation with his son, Mr. Pedgift the
elder set forth alone for his interview with Allan at the great house.
Allowing for the difference in their ages, the son was, in this instance, so
accurately the reflection of the father, that an acquaintance with either of the two
Pedgifts was almost equivalent to an acquaintance with both. Add some little
height and size to the figure of Pedgift Junior, give more breadth and boldness to
his humor, and some additional solidity and composure to his confidence in
himself, and the presence and character of Pedgift Senior stood, for all general
purposes, revealed before you.
The lawyer's conveyance to Thorpe Ambrose was his own smart gig, drawn by
his famous fast-trotting mare. It was his habit to drive himself; and it was one
among the trifling external peculiarities in which he and his son differed a little, to
affect something of the sporting character in his dress. The drab trousers of
Pedgift the elder fitted close to his legs; his boots, in dry weather and wet alike,
were equally thick in the sole; his coat pockets overlapped his hips, and his
favorite summer cravat was of light spotted muslin, tied in the neatest and
smallest of bows. He used tobacco like his son, but in a different form. While the
younger man smoked, the elder took snuff copiously; and it was noticed among
his intimates that he always held his "pinch" in a state of suspense between his
box and his nose when he was going to clinch a good bargain or to say a good
thing. The art of diplomacy enters largely into the practice of all successful men
in the lower branch of the law. Mr. Pedgift's form of diplomatic practice had been
the same throughout his life, on every occasion when he found his arts of
persuasion required at an interview with another man. He invariably kept his
strongest argument, or his boldest proposal, to the last, and invariably
remembered it at the door (after previously taking his leave), as if it was a purely
accidental consideration which had that instant occurred to him. Jocular friends,
acquainted by previous experience with this form of proceeding, had given it the
name of "Pedgift's postscript." There were few people in Thorpe Ambrose who
did not know what it meant when the lawyer suddenly checked his exit at the
opened door; came back softly to his chair, with his pinch of snuff suspended
between his box and his nose; said, "By-the-by, there's a point occurs to me;" and
settled the question off-hand, after having given it up in despair not a minute
This was the man whom the march of events at Thorpe Ambrose had now thrust
capriciously into a foremost place. This was the one friend at hand to whom Allan
in his social isolation could turn for counsel in the hour of need.
"Good-evening, Mr. Armadale. Many thanks for your prompt attention to my very
disagreeable letter," said Pedgift Senior, opening the conversation cheerfully the
moment he entered his client's house. "I hope you understand, sir, that I had really
no choice under the circumstances but to write as I did?"