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The secretary put his hand before his eyes to shade them from the glare of the lamp, and for some moments looked at Hugh with a frowning brow, as if he remembered to have seen him lately, but could not call to mind where, or on what occasion. His uncertainty was very brief, for before Hugh had spoken a word, he said, as his countenance cleared up:
'Ay, ay, I recollect. It's quite right, John, you needn't wait. Don't go, Dennis.'
'Your servant, master,' said Hugh, as Grueby disappeared.
'Yours, friend,' returned the secretary in his smoothest manner. 'What brings YOU here? We left nothing behind us, I hope?'
Hugh gave a short laugh, and thrusting his hand into his breast, produced one of the handbills, soiled and dirty from lying out of doors all night, which he laid upon the secretary's desk after flattening it upon his knee, and smoothing out the wrinkles with his heavy palm.
'Nothing but that, master. It fell into good hands, you see.'
'What is this!' said Gashford, turning it over with an air of perfectly natural surprise. 'Where did you get it from, my good fellow; what does it mean? I don't understand this at all.'
A little disconcerted by this reception, Hugh looked from the secretary to Dennis, who had risen and was standing at the table too, observing the stranger by stealth, and seeming to derive the utmost satisfaction from his manners and appearance. Considering himself silently appealed to by this action, Mr Dennis shook his head thrice, as if to say of Gashford, 'No. He don't know anything at all about it. I know he don't. I'll take my oath he don't;' and hiding his profile from Hugh with one long end of his frowzy neckerchief, nodded and chuckled behind this screen in extreme approval of the secretary's proceedings.
'It tells the man that finds it, to come here, don't it?' asked Hugh. 'I'm no scholar, myself, but I showed it to a friend, and he said it did.'
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