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   Chapter 48 No.48

Come Rack! Come Rope! By Robert Hugh Benson Characters: 2982

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05

"Yes, sir," said George an hour later, still a little flushed with the amount of drink he had been forced to consume. "I had some trouble to get it. But I think this is what your honour wanted."

He began to search in his deep breast-pocket.

"Tell me," said Mr. Biddell.

"I got the fellow to watch in the passage, sir; him that I had made drunk, while I was inside. There were great bundles of papers in the valise…. No, sir, it was strapped up only…. The most of the papers were docketed very legally, sir; so I did not have to search long. There were three or four papers in a little packet by themselves; besides a great packet that was endorsed with Mr. FitzHerbert's name, as well as Mr. Topcliffe's and my lord Shrewsbury's; and I think I should not have had time to look that through. But, by God's mercy, it was one of the three or four by themselves."

He had the paper in his hand by now. The lawyer made a movement to take it. Then he restrained himself.

"Tell me, first," he said.

"Well, sir," said George, with a pardonable satisfaction in spinning the matter out, "one was all covered with notes, and was headed 'Padley.' I read that through, sir. It had to do with the buildings and the acres, and so forth. The second paper I could make nothing out of; it was in cypher, I think. The third paper was the same; and the fourth, sir, was that which I have here."

The lawyer started.

"But I told you-"

"Yes, sir; I should have said that this is the copy-

or, at least, an abstract. I made the abstract by the window, sir, crouching down so that none should see me. Then I put all back as before, and came out again; the fellow was fast asleep against the door."

"And Topcliffe-"

"Mr. Topcliffe, sir, returned half an hour afterwards in company again with Mr. Hamilton. I waited a few minutes to see that all was well, and then I came to you, sir."

There was silence in the little room for a moment. It was the small back office of Mr. Biddell, where he did his more intimate business, looking out on to a paved court. The town was for the most part asleep, and hardly a sound came through the closed windows.

Then the lawyer turned and put out his hand for the paper without a word. He nodded to George, who went out, bidding him good-night.

* * * * *

Ten minutes later Mr. Biddell walked quietly through the passengers' gate by the side of the great doors that led to the court beside Babington House, closing it behind him. He knew that it would be left unbarred till eleven o'clock that night. He passed on through the court, past the house door, to the steward's office, where through heavy curtains a light glimmered. As he put his hand on the door it opened, and Marjorie was there. He said nothing, nor did she. Her face was pale and steady, and there was a question in her eyes. For answer he put the paper into her hands, and sat down while she read it. The stillness was as deep here as in the office he had just left.

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