It Is Never Too Late to Mend by Charles Reade
Four days after this, mephistopheles with a small m and brutus with a little b sat again in the filthy little cabin where men hatch burglaries--but this time the conference wore an air of expectant triumph.
"Didn't I tell you?"
"You didn't do it easy."
"No, I had almost to go on my knees to him."
"He isn't worth so much trouble."
"He is worth it ten times over. Look at this," and the speaker produced a plan of the premises they were plotting against. "Could you have done this?"
"I don't say I could."
"Could any man you know have done it? See here is every room and every door and window and passage put down, and what sort of keys and bolts and fastenings to each."
"How came he to know so much; he never was in the house but twice."
"A top-sawyer like him looks at everything with an eye to business. If he was in a church he'd twig the candlesticks and the fastenings, while the rest were mooning into the parson's face--he can't help it."
"Well, he may be a top-sawyer, but I don't like him. See how loth he was, and, when he did agree, how he turned to and drank as if he would drown his pluck before it could come to anything."
"Wait till you see him work. He will shake all that nonsense to blazes when he finds himself out under the moon with the swag on one side and the gallows on the other."
To go back a little. Mr. Miles did not return at the appointed day; and Robinson, who had no work to do, and could not amuse himself without money, pawned Mr. Eden's ring. He felt ashamed and sorrowful, but not so much so as the first time.
This evening, as he was strolling moodily through the suburbs, a voice hailed him in tones of the utmost cordiality. He looked up and there was an old pal, with whom he had been associated in many a merry bout and pleasant felony; he had not seen the man for two years; a friendly glass was offered and accepted. Two girls were of the party, to oblige whom Robinson's old acquaintance sent for Blind Bill, the fiddler, and soon Robinson was dancing and shouting with the girls like mad--"High cut," "side cut," "heel and toe," "sailor's fling," and the double shuffle.
He did not leave till three in the morning, and after a promise to meet the same little party again next evening--to dance and drink and drive away dull care.