MR. HARDIE raised the money on his scrip, and at great inconvenience, for he was holding on five hundred thousand pounds' worth of old Turkish Bonds over an unfavourable settling day, and wanted every shilling to pay his broker. If they did not rise by next settling day, he was a beggar. However, being now a desperate gamester, and throwing for his last stake, he borrowed this sum, and took it within a heavy heart to his appointment with Skinner. Skinner never came. Mr. Hardie waited till one o'clock. Two o'clock. No Skinner. Mr. Hardie went home hugging his five hundred pounds, but very uneasy. Next day he consulted Peggy. She shook her head, and said it looked very ugly. Skinner had most likely got angrier and angrier with thinking on the assault. "You will never see him again till the day of the trial: and then he will go down and bear false witness against you. Why not leave the country?"
"How can I, simpleton? My money is all locked up in the bargains. No, I'm tied, tied to the stake; I'll fight to the last: and, if I'm defeated and disgraced, I'll die, and end it."
Peggy implored him not to talk so. "I've been down to the court," said she softly, "to see what it is like. There's a great hall; and he must pass through that to get into the little places where they try 'em. Let me be in that hall with the five hundred pounds, and I promise you he shall never appear against you. We will both go; you with the money, I with my woman's tongue."
He gave her his hand like a shaky monarch, and said she had more wit than he had.
Mr. Heathfield, who had contrived to postpone Hardie _v._ Hardie six times in spite of Compton, could not hurry it on now with his co-operation. It hung fire from some cause or another a good fortnight: and in this fortnight Hardie senior endured the tortures of suspense. Skinner made no sign. At last, there stood upon the paper for next day, a short case of disputed contract, and Hardie _v._ Hardie.
Now, this day, I must premise, was to settle the whole lawsuit: for while trial of the issue was being postponed and postponed, the legal question had been argued and disposed of. The very Queen's counsel, unfavourable to the suit, was briefed with Garrow's views, and delivered them in court with more skill, clearness, and effect than Garrow ever could; then sat down, and whispered over rather contemptuously to Mr. Compton, "That is your argument, I think."
"And admirably put," whispered the attorney, in reply.
"Well; now hear Saunders knock it to pieces."