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'What did you do with her?' asked Fledgeby, feeling his cheek.
'I placed her,' said the old man, 'at a distance;' with a grave smooth outward sweep from one another of his two open hands at arm's length; 'at a distance--among certain of our people, where her industry would serve her, and where she could hope to exercise it, unassailed from any quarter.'
Fledgeby's eyes had come from the fire to notice the action of his hands when he said 'at a distance.' Fledgeby now tried (very unsuccessfully) to imitate that action, as he shook his head and said, 'Placed her in that direction, did you? Oh you circular old dodger!'
With one hand across his breast and the other on the easy chair, Riah, without justifying himself, waited for further questioning. But, that it was hopeless to question him on that one reserved point, Fledgeby, with his small eyes too near together, saw full well.
'Lizzie,' said Fledgeby, looking at the fire again, and then looking up. 'Humph, Lizzie. You didn't tell me the other name in your garden atop of the house. I'll be more communicative with you. The other name's Hexam.'
Riah bent his head in assent.
'Look here, you sir,' said Fledgeby. 'I have a notion I know something of the inveigling chap, the powerful one. Has he anything to do with the law?'
'Nominally, I believe it his calling.'
'I thought so. Name anything like Lightwood?'
'Sir, not at all like.'
'Come, old 'un,' said Fledgeby, meeting his eyes with a wink, 'say the name.'
'By Jupiter!' cried Fledgeby. 'That one, is it? I thought it might be the other, but I never dreamt of that one! I shouldn't object to your baulking either of the pair, dodger, for they are both conceited enough; but that one is as cool a customer as ever I met with. Got a beard besides, and presumes upon it. Well done, old 'un! Go on and prosper!'
Brightened by this unexpected commendation, Riah asked were there more instructions for him?
'No,' said Fledgeby, 'you may toddle now, Judah, and grope about on the orders you have got.' Dismissed with those pleasing words, the old man took his broad hat and staff, and left the great presence: more as if he were some superior creature benignantly blessing Mr Fledgeby, than the poor dependent on whom he set his foot. Left alone, Mr Fledgeby locked his outer door, and came back to his fire.
'Well done you!' said Fascination to himself. 'Slow, you may be; sure, you are!' This he twice or thrice repeated with much complacency, as he again dispersed the legs of the Turkish trousers and bent the knees.
'A tidy shot that, I flatter myself,' he then soliloquised. 'And a Jew brought down with it! Now, when I heard the story told at Lammle's, I didn't make a jump at Riah. Not a hit of it; I got at him by degrees.' Herein he was quite accurate; it being his habit, not to jump, or leap, or make an upward spring, at anything in life, but to crawl at everything.
'I got at him,' pursued Fledgeby, feeling for his whisker, 'by degrees. If your Lammles or your Lightwoods had got at him anyhow, they would have asked him the question whether he hadn't something to do with that gal's disappearance. I knew a better way of going to work. Having got behind the hedge, and put him in the light, I took a shot at him and brought him down plump. Oh! It don't count for much, being a Jew, in a match against ME!'
Another dry twist in place of a smile, made his face crooked here.
'As to Christians,' proceeded Fledgeby, 'look out, fellow- Christians, particularly you that lodge in Queer Street! I have got the run of Queer Street now, and you shall see some games there. To work a lot of power over you and you not know it, knowing as you think yourselves, would be almost worth laying out money upon. But when it comes to squeezing a profit out of you into the bargain, it's something like!'
With this apostrophe Mr Fledgeby appropriately proceeded to divest himself of his Turkish garments, and invest himself with Christian attire. Pending which operation, and his morning ablutions, and his anointing of himself with the last infallible preparation for the production of luxuriant and glossy hair upon the human countenance (quacks being the only sages he believed in besides usurers), the murky fog closed about him and shut him up in its sooty embrace. If it had never let him out any more, the world would have had no irreparable loss, but could have easily replaced him from its stock on hand.
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