Without making any direct answer, therefore, to Peter Peebles, he walked up gravely to Fairford, who had waited quietly for the termination of a scene in which he was not a little surprised to find his client, Mr. Peebles, a conspicuous actor.
'Mr. Fairford,' said Redgauntlet, 'there are many reasons which might induce me to comply with the request, or rather the injunctions, of the excellent Father Buonaventure, that I should communicate with you upon the present condition of my ward, whom you know under the name of Darsie Latimer; but no man is better aware than you that the law must be obeyed, even in contradiction to our own feelings; now this poor man has obtained a warrant for carrying you before a magistrate, and, I am afraid, there is a necessity of your yielding to it, although to the postponement of the business which you may have with me.'
'A warrant against me!' said Alan, indignantly; 'and at that poor miserable wretch's instance?--why, this is a trick, a mere and most palpable trick.'
'It may be so,' replied Redgauntlet, with great equanimity; 'doubtless you know best; only the writ appears regular, and with that respect for the law which has been,' he said, with hypocritical formality, 'a leading feature of my character through life, I cannot dispense with giving my poor aid to the support of a legal warrant. Look at it yourself, and be satisfied it is no trick of mine.'
Fairford ran over the affidavit and the warrant, and then exclaimed once more, that it was an impudent imposition, and that he would hold those who acted upon such a warrant liable in the highest damages. 'I guess at your motive, Mr. Redgauntlet,' he said, 'for acquiescing in so ridiculous a proceeding. But be assured you will find that, in this country, one act of illegal violence will not be covered or atoned for by practising another. You cannot, as a man of sense and honour, pretend to say you regard this as a legal warrant.'
'I am no lawyer, sir,' said Redgauntlet; 'and pretend not to know what is or is not law--the warrant is quite formal, and that is enough for me.'
'Did ever any one hear,' said Fairford, 'of an advocate being compelled to return to his task, like a collier or a salter [See Note 10.] who has deserted his master?'
'I see no reason why he should not,' said Redgauntlet, dryly, 'unless on the ground that the services of the lawyer are the most expensive and least useful of the two.'