"Mrs. Margaret Bertram's idea that the child was alive was founded upon the report of a gipsy," said Pleydell, catching at the half-spoken hint--"I envy you the concatenation, Colonel--it is a shame to me not to have drawn the same conclusion. We'll follow this business tip instantly--Here, hark ye, waiter, go down to Luckie Wood's in the Cowgate; ye'll find my clerk Driver; he'll be set down to High-jinks by this time (for we and our retainers, Colonel, are exceedingly regular in our irregularities); tell him to come here instantly, and I will pay his forfeits."
"He won't appear in character, will he?" said Mannering.
"Ah! no more of that, Hal, an thou lovest me," said Pleydell. "But we must have some news from the land of Egypt, if possible. Oh, if I had but hold of the slightest thread of this complicated skein, you should see how I would unravel it!--I would work the truth out of your Bohemian, as the French call them, better than a Monitoire, or a Plainte de Tournelle; I know how to manage a refractory witness."
While Mr. Pleydell was thus vaunting his knowledge of his profession, the waiter re-entered with Mr. Driver, his mouth still greasy with mutton pies, and the froth of the last draught of twopenny yet unsubsided on his upper lip, with such speed had he obeyed the commands of his principal.--"Driver, you must go instantly and find out the woman who was old Mrs. Margaret Bertram's maid. Inquire for her everywhere, but if you find it necessary to have recourse to Protocol, Quid the tobacconist, or any other of these folks, you will take care not to appear yourself, but send some woman of your acquaintance--I dare say you know enough that may be so condescending as to oblige you. When you have found her out, engage her to come to my chambers to-morrow at eight o'clock precisely."
"What shall I say to make her forthcoming?" asked the aide-de-camp.
"Anything you choose," replied the lawyer. "Is it my business to make lies for you, do you think? But let her be in praesentia by eight o'clock, as I have said before." The clerk grinned, made his reverence, and exit.
"That's a useful fellow," said the counsellor "I don't believe his match ever carried a process. He'll write to my dictating three nights in the week without sleep, or, what's the same thing, he writes as well and correctly when he's asleep as when he's awake. Then he's such a steady fellow--some of them are always changing their alehouses, so that they have twenty cadies sweating after them, like the bare-headed captains traversing the taverns of East-Cheap in search of Sir John Falstaff. But this is a complete fixture-he has his winter seat by the fire, and his summer seat by the window, in Luckie Wood's, betwixt which seats are his only migrations; there he's to be found at all times when he is off duty. It is my opinion he never puts off his clothes or goes to sleep--sheer ale supports him under everything. It is meat, drink, and clothing, bed, board, and washing."
"And is he always fit for duty upon a sudden turn-out? I should distrust it, considering his quarters."