A slightly befuddled Warren Meriwether sat in the dark and dingy third-storey office of Silus Splendid, absentmindedly twisting the ruby-encrusted band of gold on his forefinger. Out of his four priceless rings, which stayed on his body at almost all times, the ruby ring was the most enjoyable to play with.
Silus sat cross-legged in the largest chair Warren had ever seen, a silver monocle tucked neatly over his right eye as he scanned his documents with the utmost care. Warren had never had the slightest scrap of interest in words and numbers. If he had, maybe he'd have worked hard like Silus had and achieved the equivalent of the skinny man's status and success.
Even if he had, he thought to himself with a small smile, what difference would it have made to the man he was now? Here he sat, not having worked for a single penny in his life, yet his two-piece was just as smart as that of the attorney, his hair trimmed just as neatly, and his hat even sturdier and - he was almost certain - taller. The only difference is that Silus had had to sweat like a slave for his finery.
"Something the matt'?" Silus asked with a slanted eyebrow, swiftly removing his monocle in order to eye his friend inquisitively.
"Not at all," Warren responded. "Just wondered if that was a new hat you've got there." He gestured smoothly towards the deeply coloured top hat that sat contentedly on Silus' modest hatstand. No doubt he hoped it would pass for a black hat, Warren reckoned. But it wasn't. That particular hat was a very rich and dark brown. But it wasn't nearly as black as his.
"Technically, it is. It belonged to my grandfath'. The poor devil up and died just last night. Family's in an awful tizzy about it. Moth' is in fits, the poor wretch. But life goes on, what, what?"
"It certainly does," Warren said, licking his lips in anticipation as his eyes lit upon the papers in Silus' hands. "Speaking of deceased old chaps -"
"Yes, I'm getting to that." Silus shot him a spine-shivering glare. "The case of your father's death is indeed a more.... tedious one."
Warren shifted anxiously in his chair, feeling as though a ball made of worms had infested his guts. "Silus, you're the best in London. And we've been friends since before we could speak. And -" He leaned forward in earnest. "You know I'm good for the money, so long as you make this work for me."
"Oh, it's not about the money, Warren!" Silus exclaimed, rising from his chair and beginning to pace the shadowy room.
"She's gone, Silus!" Warren blurted, helplessly clutching the edges of his chair. "I haven't seen head nor tail of the little wench in three weeks!"
"I need more time," Silus said simply, striding to the door and opening it swiftly, indicating that Warren should leave.
"No - please, Silus, I need this! I'm - I'm in debt up to my tonsils. If I don't get that money before the end of the month, they're going to raid my house, and you understand why I can't let that happen."
Shrunken black eyes darted over Warren's body quickly, aimed down the beakiest nose known to London. "Is the reason so that you don't wind up a sniveling, pathetic man, with no future and no dignity? Because if that's all you're worried about, don't." He swept his arm dramatically towards the gaping door. "You're already said man."
And Warren scurried to the door like a puppy with its tail between its legs.
"I'll contact you later next week." Silus slammed the door so swiftly behind him, he felt its wind on his rear end.
A slightly befuddled Warren Meriwether started for home, wondering how he would avoid being forced out on the streets, just like the sickly ragdoll of flesh and metal that had ruined his life.