After a pause, Mr. Hardie made an effort and said contemptuously, "The receipt (if any) was flung into the dusthole and carried away. Do you think I have forgotten that?"
"Don't you believe it, sir," was the reply. "While you turned your back and sacked the money, I said to myself, 'Oho, is that the game?' and nailed the receipt. What a couple of scoundrels we were! I wouldn't have her know it for all your money. Come, sir, I see its all right; you will shell out sooner than be posted."
Here Peggy interposed; "Mr. Skinner, be more considerate; my master is really poor just now."
"That is no reason why I should be insulted and indicted and trampled under foot," snarled Skinner all in one breath.
"Show me the receipt and take my last shilling, you ungrateful, vindictive viper," groaned Mr. Hardie.
"Stuff and nonsense, said Skinner. "I'm not a viper; I'm a man of business. Find me five hundred pounds; and I'll show you the receipt and keep dark. But I can't afford to give it you for that, of course."
Skinner triumphed, and made the great man apologise, writhing all the time, and wishing he was a day labourer with Peggy to wife, and fourteen honest shillings a week for his income. Having eaten humble pie, he agreed to meet Skinner next Wednesday at midnight, alone, under a certain lamp on the North Kensington Road: the interval (four days) he required to raise money upon his scrip. Skinner bowed himself out, fawning triumphantly. Mr. Hardie stood in the middle of the room motionless, scowling darkly. Peggy looked at him, and saw some dark and sinister resolve forming in his mind: she divined it, as such women can divine. She laid her hand on his arm, and said softly, "Richard, it's not worth _that._" He started to find his soul read through his body so clearly. He trembled.
But it was only for a moment. "His blood be on his own head," he snarled. "This is not my seeking. He shall learn what it is to drive Richard Hardie to despair."