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“I say, Mr. Silent-man! Bet you five pounds I never hear of that lawyer again!”

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Silently attentive all through the interview (except when he was answering questions), Moody only replied in the fewest words. “I don’t bet,” was all he said. He showed no resentment at Sharon’s familiarity, and he appeared to find no amusement in Sharon’s extraordinary talk. The old vagabond seemed actually to produce a serious impression on him! When Mr. Troy set the example of rising to go, he still kept his seat, and looked at the lawyer as if he regretted leaving the atmosphere of tobacco smoke reeking in the dirty room.

“Have you anything to say before we go?” Mr. Troy asked.

Moody rose slowly and looked at Old Sharon. “Not just now, sir,” he replied, looking away again, after a moment’s reflection.

Old Sharon interpreted Moody’s look and Moody’s reply from his own peculiar point of view. He suddenly drew the steward away into a corner of the room.

“I say!” he began, in a whisper. “Upon your solemn word of honor, you know — are you as rich as the lawyer there?”

“Certainly not.”

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“Look here! It’s half price to a poor man. If you feel like coming back, on your own account — five pounds will do from you. There! there! Think of it! — think of it!”

“Now, then!” said Mr. Troy, waiting for his companion, with the door open in his hand. He looked back at Sharon when Moody joined him. The old vagabond was settled again in his armchair, with his dog in his lap, his pipe in his mouth, and his French novel in his hand; exhibiting exactly the picture of frowzy comfort which he had presented when his visitors first entered the room.

“Good-day,” said Mr. Troy, with haughty condescension.

“Don’t interrupt me!” rejoined Old Sharon, absorbed in his novel. “You’ve had your guinea’s worth. Lord! what a lovely book this is! Don’t interrupt me!”

“Impudent scoundrel!” said Mr. Troy, when he and Moody were in the street again. “What could my friend mean by recommending him? Fancy his expecting me to trust him with ten pounds! I consider even the guinea completely thrown away.”

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“Begging your pardon, sir,” said Moody, “I don’t quite agree with you there.”

“What! you don’t mean to tell me you understand that oracular sentence of his —‘Suspect the very last person on whom suspicion could possibly fall.’ Rubbish!”

“I don’t say I understand it, sir. I only say it has set me thinking.”

“Thinking of what? Do your suspicions point to the thief?”