THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
THE DISRUPTION A TALE OF TIiYINO TIMES. CHAPTER XVlll.— Continued. The ‘ scooneral customer ’ was a Mr. M'Cheatrie, an extensive victualler and spirit dealer, and brother to the lawyer of the same name already mentioned. The mistress of Whinnyside and honest Stiffriggs found him busily employed in his shop, and were welcomed with as much apparent cordiality as if they had come to pay rather than demand money. He at once assumed that they would be disposed to “ taste a dram,” and after showing them into his best apartment, he asked politely what they would have to drink. ‘Just onything ye like/ said Mrs. Renshaw ; and Stiffriggs scratched his head, uncertain what choice to make ; but M'Cheatrie cut the matter short by saying, ‘ I reckon it maun be brandy; there’s naething else can be put before a leddy.' Acting on his own suggestion, he disappeared and returned immediately with a half-pint (English) measure full of what he called the real Cogniac. Without waiting for any invitation, he placed himself at the table, and pushed the liquor briskly round. This promised well for a prompt settlement of Mrs. Renshaw’s account, so she introduced the subject without loss of time. ‘ There’s the bit sum o’ thirty pound, Mr. M'Cheatrie, that stands atween us,’ she said, ‘ for the meal and cheese ye got o’ mine. I houp ye’re ready, to settle it noo, when Ive come for’t mysel’ ? ’
‘ Settle’t ! ay, to be svire. But ye manna speak o’ onything like thirty pound, mistress, or we’ll cast oot. It wad hae been settle’t Lang syne if it had been a reasonable account.’ ‘And what ails the accoont, Mr, M‘Cheatrie ? ’
‘ It’s just aboot a third owre muckle j that’s what ails’t. 'The meal ye sent me wasna according to sample—seedy, auldJasted dirt ! —it has done my run mair ill than it was a’ worth—and the cheese was short o’ weight by sax or -eight stane at least. So I maun hae a heavy deduction, forbye the regular discoont, or ye’ll get nae settlement frae me.’
‘ Did ever onybody hear the like o’ that ? It’s far frae being decent o’ ye, Mr. M'Cheatrie, to come wi’ sic backspangs on a single woman like me. Ye try to tak’ the advantage o’ me because I hae,’ nae man body to manage my affairs; but Mr. Stimperton here will no see me wranged.’ ‘ I care for Mr. This nor Mr. That. I’ll pay what’s just and right, and no a farding mair,’ said M‘Cheatfie, ? ’ ; '
‘ Hoot’s, toots!’ said Stiffriggs, ‘ it’ll be easy to see if the meal wasna according to sample, and if the cheese didna stand the weight. The lad that carted them in can easily be gotten, and he’ll mind a’ aboot it. It wad be Robin A fleck, naedoot.’ ‘ Fxactly, that’s the very man,’ exclaimed M'Cheatrie, with well-feigned eagerness. ‘ I want to see him aboot anither business as weel as this. It’s something that Dr. Snapperdugeon and my brither have been enquiring after him for, and they hear that he’s about the toun. D’ye ken whaur he’s to be fund ? ’
c Ay, yes, whiles; no just noo, though,’ said Stiffriggs, hitching uneasily in his chair, and beiraying considerable confusion. Turning to Mrs. Renshaw, he whispered in her ear ; and after an earnest consultation with her, which was conducted in tones intended not to be audible across the table, the lady consented to split the difference with Mr. M'Cheatrie, in order that the account might be settled without further trouble ; and this arrangement the ‘ scooneral customer’ agreed to with much affectation of reluctance.
His eye twinkled with self-gratulation when he thus got about five pounds written off the thirty pound account ; but he was not yet entirely satisfied. Five-sixths of the sum duehe considered much too great a proportion to pay in good sterling money, so he put his ingenuity again on the stretch to cut it down another slice. ‘ I maun hae the
regular discoont,’ he said, with matchless effrontry ; ‘ I maun hae the regular discoont at least, since ye are still charging me mair than ye hae ony right to.’
This deduction being also allowed, the account was reduced to little more than twenty pounds. Mr. M'Cheatrie was now brought fairly to the point of paying, but it was not his design to disburse in such a hurry. ‘ I suppose, mistress, ye’ll hae no objections to tak’ a bit bill for the siller, for I’m clean run oot o’ ready cash.’ ‘ Deed I’m no shure. I'm no acquaint wi’ bills, and I wad far raither hae the siller doun on the nail. What say ye, Mr. Stimperton ? ’ ‘ I’m o’ the same mind. I ha’e nae brew o’ bills, and for my ain part I want to ha’e naething to do wi’ them,’ answered Stiffriggs. ‘ Do ye mean to throw a slur on my credit ? ’ shouted M'Cheatrie. ‘ Hoot, no, man; nae slur ava; but I would just advise Mrs. Renshaw here, to prefer the ready siller to ony man’s bill, let him be wha he may.’ ‘ Ay, but in the present case the ready siller is no just ready. It’s no to be thocht a man in business like me is aye to hae his pouch fou o’ cash to meet every chance demand that may be made on him. No, no ; there’s
naebody in business wad expeck that. And the truth is, if ye dinna like to tak’ the kind o’ settlement I’m prepared to gi’e, the account maun just stand o’wre a while yet, for it’s no every day I’m in the way o’ paying cash.’ Another consultation now took place in whispers between Mrs. Renshaw and Stiffriggs, the result of which was a resolution to take Mr. M'Cheatrie’s bill on condition that it should be at a short date.
‘ Na, na,’ said this worthy, “I grant nae bills at less than four or six months’ date. It wad damage my credit if I were to gie onybody a short bill, so I make it a point ne’er to do ought o’ the kind. But if ye’re fear’t ye may no get a lang bill discoonted in the banks, I’ll put ye on a way o’ getting cash for’t easily. I ken a man that keeps some spare money by him for the vera purpose o’ favorin’ folk in a private way.’ On the strength of this statement it was ultimately agreed that the settlement should be made by a bill at six months, and a stamp being procured, Mr. M'Cheatrie drew the bilLaLonca*All this beiag-“>« clt Metnn due form,, Mrar Renshaw desired to be informed where the private banker was to be found who would cash the bill, for she was impatient to see it converted into current money.
‘ As, for that matter said Mr. M'Cheatrie, if is was to be a great convenience to ye, I dare say I could get him to come here within half an hour o’ this ; so ye may just sit still and mak’ yoursel’s comfortable. But the stoup is toom, I think.’ It was not surprising that this should be the case, or that M'Cheatrie should be the first to discover it, for he had appropriated the greater portion of the liquor to himself by way of proving his sincerity in praising it. A nod from Stiffriggs was easily interpreted into an order for another supply of the same, and the honest dealer in returning with it (for he generally acted as his own waiter) opened his heart so far as to simplify still more the business of getting his bill discounted. ‘ I’ve just been thinkin,’ said he, ‘ that it’ll no be necessary for me to trouble the gentleman I spoke o’ to ye aboot .the bill; for, though I ha’e in a sense, nae money o’ my o’ ain in the house, I ha’e a sma’ sum o’ his that’ll just be aboot eneuch for your purpose. Ye see he often leaves twa or three notes wi’ me to discoont an odd bit o’ paper when he’s no in the way himsel’. But as the sillers no my ain, I ha’e to be desperate cautious in disposing oot, and to male’ every transaction as gude for him as i can.’
‘ A’ right and fair, sir,’ said Stiffriggs, who was too simple to deal with such a sharper—‘A’right and fair, sir; so, if ye’ll just shell oot the notes, ye’ll get back your bill and we can be steppin’.’ ‘ Weel, ye see, as the bill has a lang while to rin, the least discoont I can be justified in charging is five and half per cent.
| ‘ Five and a half mischanters !’ _ exclaimed Stiffriggs in a towering passion, adding sternly—did ye no charge discount before ?’
‘ Yes, gudeman, discoont aff the account, but this is for cashing the bill. Just try if you can get it dune for less, or if ye’ll get it cashed ava by onybody else. Faith, it’s no everybody that’ll gie ye mony for a sax months’ bill.’ ‘ Did ye no say a sax months’ bill was the best?’
‘Ay, the best for me, but no for
gettin’ the bawbees fort.’ ‘ Odd, Mr. M'Cheatrie, ye’re weel named; ye’re a couple ane, or I’m mista’en,’ said Stiffriggs, boiling with indignation. ‘O Ringan !’ said Mrs. Renshaw, ‘ ye see how a puir single woman is imposed on when she has nae man body to look after her i’ (To becontinutd.\
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