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as he once more held it open in his hand. The glance was but
momentary, for Ralph, being disturbed, turned to demand the
cause of the interruption.

As Newman stated it, the cause himself swaggered into the
room, and grasping Ralph’s horny hand with uncommon affection,
vowed that he had never seen him looking so well in all his life.

‘There is quite a bloom upon your demd countenance,’ said Mr
Mantalini, seating himself unbidden, and arranging his hair and
whiskers. ‘You look quite juvenile and jolly, demmit!’

‘We are alone,’ returned Ralph, tartly. ‘What do you want with

‘Good!’ cried Mr Mantalini, displaying his teeth. ‘What did I
want! Yes. Ha, ha! Very good. What did I want. Ha, ha. Oh dem!’

‘What do you want, man?’ demanded Ralph, sternly.
‘Demnition discount,’ returned Mr Mantalini, with a grin, and
shaking his head waggishly.

‘Money is scarce,’ said Ralph.
‘Demd scarce, or I shouldn’t want it,’ interrupted Mr Mantalini.
‘The times are bad, and one scarcely knows whom to trust,’
continued Ralph. ‘I don’t want to do business just now, in fact I
would rather not; but as you are a friend--how many bills have
you there?’

‘Two,’ returned Mr Mantalini.
‘What is the gross amount?’
‘Demd trifling--five-and-seventy.’
‘And the dates?’

‘Two months, and four.’
‘I’ll do them for you--mind, for you; I wouldn’t for many
people--for five-and-twenty pounds,’ said Ralph, deliberately.

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