The Little Black Porter by Anonymous

Some years ago, the turnpike road, from the city of Bristol to the little hamlet of Jacobsford, was cleft in twain, if we may use the expression, for the length of rather more than a furlong, at a little distance from the outskirts of the village, by the lofty garden walls of an old parsonage house, which terminated nearly in a point, at the northern end, in the centre of the highway. The road was thus divided into two branches: these, after skirting the walls on the east and west, united again at the south end, leaving the parsonage grounds isolated from other property. The boundary walls were of an unusual height and thickness; they were surmounted by strong oaken palisading, the top of which presented an impassable barrier of long and projecting iron spikes. The brick-work, although evidently old, was in excellent condition: not a single leaf of ivy could be found upon its surface, nor was there a fissure or projection perceptible which would afford a footing or hold to the most expert bird's-nesting boy, or youthful robber of orchards, in the neighbourhood. The entrance gate was low, narrow, immensely thick, and barred and banded with iron on the inner side. The tops of several yew and elm trees might be seen above the palisading, but none grew within several feet of the wall: among their summits, rose several brick chimneys, of octagonal shape; and, occasionally, when the branches were blown to and fro by an autumnal wind, a ruddy reflection of the rising or setting sun was just perceptible, gleaming from the highest windows of the house, through the sear and scanty foliage in which it was embosomed. According to tradition, Prince Rupert passed a night or two there, in the time of the civil war; shortly after his departure, it withstood a siege of some days, by a detachment unprovided with artillery; and surrendered only on account of its garrison being destitute of food. Within the memory of a few of the oldest villagers, it was said to have been occupied by a society of nuns: of the truth of this statement, however, it appears that the respectable sisterhood of Shepton Mallet entertain very grave, and, apparently, well-founded doubts.

For many years previously to and at the period when the events about to be recorded took place, a very excellent clergyman, of high scholastic attainments, resided in the parsonage house. Doctor Plympton was connected, by marriage, with several opulent families in Jamaica; and he usually had two or three West-Indian pupils, whose education was entirely confided to him by their friends. Occasionally, also, he directed the studies of one or two young gentlemen, whose relatives lived in the neighbourhood; but the number of his scholars seldom exceeded four, and he devoted nearly the whole of his time to their advancement in classical learning.

Doctor Plympton had long been a widower: his only child, Isabel, had scarcely attained her sixteenth year, when she became an object of most ardent attachment to a young gentleman of very violent passions, and the most daring nature, who had spent nine years of his life under the Doctor's roof, and had scarcely quitted it a year, when, coming of age, he entered into possession of a good estate, within half an hour's ride of the parsonage.

Charles Perry,—for that was the name of Isabel's lover,—had profited but little by the Doctor's instructions: wild and ungovernable from his boyhood, Charles, even from the time he entered his teens, was an object of positive terror to his father, who was a man of a remarkably mild and retiring disposition. As the youth advanced towards manhood, he grew still more boisterous; and the elder Mr. Perry, incapable of enduring the society of his son, yet unwilling to trust him far from home, contrived, by threatening to disinherit him in case of disobedience, to keep him under Doctor Plympton's care until he was nearly twenty years of age. At that time his father died, and Charles insisted upon burning his books and quitting his tutor's residence. On the strength of his expectations, and the known honesty of his heart, he immediately procured a supply of cash, and indulged his natural inclination for horses and dogs, to such an extent, that some of his fox-hunting neighbours lamented that a lad of his spirit had not ten or twenty thousand, instead of fifteen hundred a year.

Young Perry had never been a favorite with Doctor Plympton; but his conduct, after the decease of his father, was so directly opposed to the worthy Doctor's ideas of propriety, that he was heard to say, on one occasion, when Isabel was relating some bold equestrian achievement which had been recently performed by her lover, that he hoped to be forgiven, and shortly to eradicate the evil weed from his heart, but if at that moment, or ever in the course of his long life, he entertained an antipathy towards any human being, Charles Perry was the man. It would be impossible to describe the worthy Doctor's indignation and alarm, on hearing, a few days afterwards, that Charles had declared, in the presence of his own grooms—in whose society he spent a great portion of his time—that he meant to have Isabel Plympton, by hook or by crook, before Candlemas-day, let who would say nay.

That his child, his little girl,—as he still called the handsome and womanly-looking Isabel—should be an object of love, Doctor Plympton could scarcely believe. The idea of her marrying, even at a mature age, and quitting his arms for those of a husband, had never entered his brain; but the thought of such person as Charles Perry despoiling him of his darling, quite destroyed his usual equanimity of temper. He wept over Isabel, and very innocently poured the whole tide of his troubles on the subject into her ear; but he felt rather surprised to perceive no symptoms of alarm on his daughter's countenance, while he indignantly repeated young Perry's threats to carry her off. In the course of a week, the Doctor heard, to his utter amazement, from a good-natured friend, that Isabel had long been aware of Charles Ferry's attachment, and was just as willing to be run away with, as Charles could possibly be to run away with her. Several expressions which fell from Isabel, during a conversation which he subsequently had with her on the subject, induced Doctor Plympton to believe, that his good-natured friend's information was perfectly correct; and he, forthwith, concerted measures to frustrate young Perry's designs.

Isabel's walks were confined within the high and almost impassable boundary-walls of the parsonage grounds; her father constantly carried the huge key of the entrance door in his pocket, and willingly submitted to the drudgery of personally answering every one who rang the bell. He altogether declined receiving his usual visitors, and became, at once, so attentive a gaoler over his lovely young prisoner, that nothing could induce him even to cross the road. He bribed Patty Wallis with a new Bible, Hervey's Meditations among the Tombs, and Young's Night Thoughts, to be a spy upon the actions of her young mistress; and paid a lame thatcher two shillings a week to inspect the outside of the wall every night, while he did the like within, In order to detect any attempt that might be made at a breach.

But Doctor Plympton derived much more efficient assistance in his difficult task, from a quarter to which he had never dreamed of looking for aid, than either his outward ally, the thatcher, or his domestic spy, the waiting-maid, could possibly afford him. Doctor Plympton had two West-Indian pupils in his house; both of whom were deeply smitten with the charms of Isabel, and equally resolved on exercising the most persevering vigilance to prevent the blooming young coquette,—who contrived to make each of them suspect that he held a place in her affections,—from escaping to, or being carried off by, their enterprising rival, Charles Perry. These young gentlemen, one of whom was now nineteen years of age, and the other about six months younger, had been Isabel's play-fellows in her childhood; and Doctor Plympton, who seemed to be totally unconscious of their gradual approach towards man's estate, had as little apprehension of their falling in love with Isabel, at this period, as when they played blindman's buff and hunt the slipper together, eight or nine years before.

Godfrey Fairfax, the elder of the two pupils,—a vain, forward, impetuous young man,—flattered himself that Isabel was pleased with his attentions: he felt satisfied, nevertheless, that the young coquette was of an unusually capricious disposition. He was by no means sure that Perry had not a decided preference over him in her heart; and if his rival did not already enjoy so enviable a superiority, he feared that the consequence of her present state of restraint would be a paroxysm of attachment to the individual of whom she was even forbidden to think. Isabel doated on a frolic; she thought nothing could be so delightful as a romantic elopement; and far from being unhappy at the vigilance with which she was guarded, she lived in a state of positive bliss. Her situation was that of a heroine; and all her father's precautions, to prevent her from passing the garden-walls, were, to her, sources of unspeakable satisfaction. Godfrey was perfectly acquainted with her feelings, and strongly tainted with the same leaven himself. He knew how much he would dare, were he in Charles Perry's place; and he had good reasons for believing, that any successful exploit to obtain possession of her person, would be rewarded with the willing gift of young Isabel's hand. Charles Perry's reckless character rendered him exceedingly formidable as a rival, in the affections of such a girl as Isabel Plympton: but what created more doubts and fears in Godfrey's breast than any other circumstance, was the fact of a large Newfoundland dog, the property of Charles Perry, obtaining frequent ingress—nobody could conceive by what means—to Doctor Plympton's pleasure-grounds. Godfrey suspected that a correspondence was carried on between Perry and Isabel by means of the dog; and he shot at him several times, but without success.

Of his quiet, demure, and unassuming school-fellow, George Wharton, Godfrey did not entertain the least degree of fear: he attributed Isabel's familiarity with him to their having been brought up together; for that Wharton could really love so giddy a girl as Isabel, he would not permit himself to believe. But the truth is, that George passionately doated on Isabel; and she, much to her satisfaction, had made herself acquainted with the state of his feelings towards her. She had even encouraged him, by a blushing avowal that she esteemed him more than any other human being, except her father; and, in all probability, at that moment, she uttered the genuine language of her heart: but, it is very certain, in less than five minutes afterwards, Godfrey Fairfax was on his knees before her, and kissing her exquisite hand, with an enthusiasm of manner, which she did not appear at all disposed to check. Perhaps she scarcely knew whom she loved best; and trusted to accident for determining on which of the three young men her choice should fall.

While matters remained in this state at the parsonage, the day of Godfrey's departure from the house of his venerable tutor was fast approaching:—the vessel, by which he was to return to his native island, Demerara, had already completed her cargo, and nearly concluded the final preparations for her voyage.—Godfrey saw that no time was to be lost, if he wished to make Isabel Plympton his own: he was almost constantly with her, and pleaded his cause with such fervour, that, by degrees, Isabel began to forget Charles Perry, to avoid George Wharton, and to feel unhappy if Godfrey Fairfax were absent but for a few moments from her side. Godfrey knew that it would be useless to implore Doctor Plympton for his consent to their union: it would have struck the old gentleman with horror, had a pupil of his,—a youth of Godfrey's immense expectations,—offered to marry Isabel. He would have spumed the proposal as a direct attack upon his honour; and have lost his life rather than suffered such a marriage to take place. It would have amounted, in his opinion, to a breach of his duty towards his employers, to have suffered one of his pupils to fall in love with Isabel. But, even if there were any hopes that Doctor Plympton would give his consent to the match, provided Godfrey obtained that of his father, the young man could not delay his felicity; nor would he run the hazard of Isabel's changing her mind, or being won by Perry, or even young Wharton, while he was sailing to Demerara and back again. Isabel, too, he was sure, would never agree to a mere common-place match with him, when another lover was striving; night and day, to run away with her; and Godfrey, under all the circumstances, deemed it most prudent to carry her off, if possible, without asking any body's permission but her own.

He had made no arrangements for a legal union with Isabel; his sole object was to get her out of her father's custody, and under his own protection. He felt assured that his love was too sincere to permit him to act dishonourably towards her; and a vague idea floated across his mind of carrying her on board the vessel by which he was to leave England, and marrying her at the capstan, according to the forms and usages observed at sea. The principal difficulty consisted in removing her beyond the walls of her father's pleasure-grounds. Doctor Plympton's vigilance was still unabated; George Wharton, although he had scarcely spoken to Isabel for several days past, rarely lost sight of her for a longer period than half an hour; Patty Wallis slept in her room, the windows of which were immensely high; and the key of the door was regularly deposited under the Doctor's pillow. With a heavy heart Godfrey began to pack up his clothes and books, for the day of his departure was at hand,—when the idea of conveying Isabel out of the house in his large trunk, suddenly flashed upon him. He flew to the young lady and communicated to her what he called the happy discovery; and she, without a moment's hesitation, gaily agreed to his proposition,—appearing quite delighted with the idea of escaping in so mysterious and legitimately romantic a manner.

Godfrey passed the remainder of the day in concealing his clothes and books, boring air-holes in the chest, and lining it with the softest materials he could procure. On the morning appointed for his departure, Isabel stole unperceived up to the store-room, where Godfrey was anxiously waiting to receive her, and stepped blithely into the trunk. Within an hour after, it was half a mile on the road towards Bristol, in the fly-wagon, which Godfrey had previously ordered to call at the parsonage for his heavy baggage, a short time before his own intended departure. At length the chaise, in which he was to leave the village for ever, drew up to the garden gate. Godfrey took a hurried leave of his old master and fellow student, leaped into the vehicle, and told the post-boy not to spare his spurs if he expected to be well paid.

In less than an hour, the young gentleman alighted at the wagon-office. Assuming as cool and unconcerned an air as he possibly could, he observed, in a careless tone, to a clerk in the office,—"I am looking for a trunk of mine, but I do not see it: I suppose we must have passed your wagon on the road."

"All our wagons are in, sir," replied the clerk: "we don't expect another arrival till to-morrow morning."

"Oh! very good: then my chest must be here. I hope you have taken particular precautions in unloading it: I wrote 'with care—this side upwards,' on it, in very large letters."

"Who was it addressed to, sir?"

"Why, to me, certainly;—Godfrey Fairfax, Esquire, Demrara—"

"To be left at the office till called for?"

"Exactly;—where is it? I've not much time to lose."

"Why, sir, it has been gone away from here—"

"Gone away!"

"Yes, sir; about,—let me see," continued the clerk, lazily turning to look at the office clock; "why, about, as near as may be, nine or ten,—ay, say ten,—about ten minutes ago, sir."

"Ten minutes ago, sir! What do you mean?—Are you mad? I'll play the devil with you! Where's my chest?"

"I told you before, it was gone, sir."

"Gone, sir! How could it go, sir? Didn't I direct it to be left here till called for?"

"Very well, sir; and so it was left here till called for: it stood in the office for five minutes or more, and then—"

"And then—what then?"

"Why, then, a little black porter called for it, and took it away with him on a truck."

"Who was he?—Where has he taken it?—I'll be the ruin of you. The contents of that trunk are invaluable."

"I suppose you didn't insure it: we don't answer for any thing above the value of five pounds unless it's insured;—vide the notice on our tickets."

"Don't talk to me of your tickets, but answer me, scoundrel!"

"Scoundrel!"

"Where has the villain conveyed it?"

"Can't say."

"Who was he?"

"Don't know."

"Distraction! How could you be such a fool as to let him have it?"

"Why not?—How was I to know?—You'd think it odd if you was to send a porter for your chest—"

"Certainly; but—"

"Very well, then: how could I tell but what the little black fellow was sent by you?—He asked for it quite correctly, according to the address; and that's what we go by, of course, in these cases. And even now, how can I tell but what he was sent by the right owner, and that you're come under false pretences."

"What, rascal!"

"You'll excuse me:—but you don't authenticate yourself, you know; and I've a right to think as I please. If we were to hold a tight hand on every gentleman's luggage, until he proved his birth, parentage, and education, why, fifty clerks couldn't get through the work. I'll put a case:—suppose, now, you are the gentleman you represent yourself to be,—and, mind me, I don't say you are not,—how should you like, when you came here for your chest, for me to ask you for your certificate of baptism?"

"You drive me mad! Can you give me no clue?"

"None in the world;—you ought to have written to us."

"Write to you?—why should I write?"

"Why, to warn us against giving up the goods to anybody except under an order, with the same signature as that in your letter: then even if a forgery were committed, by a comparison of hands—don't you see?—"

"My good fellow!" interrupted the disconsolate and bewildered Godfrey, "you know not what you've done. This is a horrid act: it will be the death of me; and perhaps you may live to repent ever having seen this unlucky day. There was a lady in the chest."

The clerk turned his large dull eyes upon Godfrey, and after a long and deliberate stare of wonder, exclaimed, "Dead or alive?"

"Alive; alive, I hope that is,—alive, I mean, of course.—Do you take me for a body-snatcher? If you have a spark of pity in your bosom, you will put me in the way of tracing the villain who has inflicted these agonies upon me. What can I do?"

"Why, if there's a lady in the case—"

"There is, I declare;—I solemnly protest there is."

"Young or old?" "Young—young, to be sure."

"Why, then,—I think you ought to lose no time."

"Pshaw! I know that well enough."

"If I were you, I should be off directly."

"Off!—S'death, man! you enrage me. What do you mean by be off?'"

"Why, off after him, to be sure."

"Which way did he go?"

"Ah! there I'm at fault."

Godfrey could bear no more:—he rushed out of the office, hallooed "Porter!" five or six times, and, in a few seconds, half-a-dozen knights of the knot were advancing, from different corners of the inn yard, towards him. "My good fellows," said he, "did any of you see a little black fellow taking a large trunk or chest from the office, on a truck, this morning?"

Two of them had seen the little black man, but they did not recollect in what direction he went after quitting the yard.

"How dreadfully provoking!" exclaimed Godfrey: "My only course is to ransack every street—every corner, in quest of him. I'll give ten guineas to any one who will discover the wretch. Away with you at once;—bring all the black porters you know or meet with, to the office; and, perhaps, the clerk may identify the rascal among them. I've been robbed!—do you hear?—robbed—"

"And there's a lady in the case," said the clerk, from the threshold of the office-door, where he stood, carefully nibbing a pen; "a mistake has occurred, it seems; and though it's no fault of ours, we should be glad to see the matter set to rights: therefore, my lads, look sharp, and the gentleman, I've no doubt, will come down handsomely. I think I've seen the little black rascal before, and I'm pretty certain I should know him again: if I shouldn't, Ikey Pope would, I reckon; for he helped him to put the chest on the truck."

"And where is Ikey, as you call him?" eagerly inquired Godfrey.

"He's asleep again, I suppose, among the luggage.—Ikey!—You see, he's got to sit up for the wagons at night, and never has his regular rest. He's like a dog—Ikey!—like a dog that turns round three times, and so makes his bed anywhere.—Ikey!" A short, muscular, dirty-looking fellow now raised his head from among the packages which lay in the yard, and without opening his eyes, signified that he was awake, by growling forth "Well, what now?"

"Ikey," said the clerk, "didn't you help a porter to load a truck with a large chest, some little time ago?"

"Yes."

"Should you know him again?"

"No!" replied Ikey, and his head disappeared behind a large package as he spoke.

"Well, there's no time to lose, comrades," said one of the porters: "will the gentleman pay us for our time if we don't succeed?"

"Oh! of course," replied the clerk; "away with you!"

The porters immediately departed in different directions; and Godfrey, after pacing the yard for a few minutes, in great anguish of mind, sallied forth himself in quest of the little black porter. After running through some of the adjacent streets, and despatching another half-dozen porters, whom he found standing round the door of an inn, to seek for the fellow who had so mysteriously borne away "his casket with its precious pearl," he hastened back to the wagon-office, hoping that some of his emissaries might have brought in the little black porter during his absence. None of them, however, had yet returned. Godfrey, half frantic, ran off again: and after half an hour's absence, he retraced his steps towards the wagon-office.

"Well, sir," said the clerk, in his usual slow and solemn tone, as Godfrey entered, "I have had three or four of them back; and they've brought and sent in half-a-score of black porters, occasional waiters, valets out of place, journeymen chairmen, et cetera, and so forth; but, unfortunately—"

"The little delinquent was not among them, I suppose."

"No, nor any one like him: but I'll tell you what I did—"

"Speak quicker:—consider my impatience. Did you employ them all to hunt out the villain?"

"Why, it was a bold step, perhaps; but—"

"Did you, or did you not?"

"I did."

"A thousand thanks!—I'll be off again."

"But, I say, sir;—you'll excuse me;—now, if I were you, I'll just tell you what I'd do."

"Well, my dear friend, what?—quick—what?"

"Why, I'd roust out Ikey Pope. He's the man to beat up your game."

"What! the fellow who answers without unclosing his eyelids?"

"Why, to say the truth, he don't much like daylight. Nobody sees the colour of his eye, I reckon, above once a week; but, for all that, there's few can match him. He's more like a dog than a Christian. He'll find what every body else has lost; but upon what principle he works, I can't say: I think he does it all by instinct."

"Let us send him out at once, then."

"Not so fast, sir:—Ikey's next kin to a brute, and must be treated accordingly. We must manage him."

"Well, you know him, and—"

"Yes, and he knows me: I have condescended to play so many tricks with him, that he won't trust me: but he'll believe you."

"And how shall I enlist him in my service? I stand on thorns:—for Heaven's sake be speedy."

"Why, if you only tell him he has a good leg for a boot, and promise him an old pair of Hessians, he's your humble servant to command; for, ugly as he is, he's so proud of his leg, that—"

"Call him;—call him, at once."

The clerk now roused Ikey, and, with considerable difficulty, induced him to leave his hard and comfortless dormitory.

"The gentleman has a job for you," said the clerk, as Ikey staggered towards young Fairfax.

"I don't want no jobs," muttered Ikey. "Saturday night comes often enough for me. Seven-and-twenty wagons a-week, out and in, in the way of work, and half-a-guinea a-week, in the way of wages, is as much as I can manage."

"Ikey is very temperate, sir," said the clerk; "very temperate, I must allow;—he eats little and drinks less: he keeps up his flesh by sleeping, and sucking his thumbs."

"Ah! you will have your joke," said Ikey, turning towards the heap of luggage again.

"And won't you earn a shilling or two, Ikey?" said the clerk.

"No; I'm an independent man: I have as much work as I can do, and as much wages as I want. I wish you wouldn't wake me, when there's no wagon:—how should you like it?"

"Well, but, friend Pope," said Godfrey, "as you will not take money, perhaps you'll be generous enough to do a gentleman a favour. I shall be happy to make you some acceptable little present—keepsake, I mean—in return. I've an old pair of Hessians,—and, as I think our legs are about of a size—"

"Of a size!" said Ikey, facing about towards young Fairfax, and, for the first time, unclosing his heavy lids; "of a size!" repeated he, a second time, casting a critical glance on Godfrey's leg; "I can hardly think that."

Ikey dropped on one knee, and, without uttering a word, proceeded to measure Godfrey's calves with his huge, hard hands. He then rose, and rather dogmatically observed, "The gentleman has got a goodish sort of a leg; but," continued he, "his calves don't travel in flush enough with one another exactly: he couldn't hold a sixpence between his ancles, the middle of his legs, and his knees, as a person I'm acquainted with can, when he likes to turn his toes out:—but I think your boots might fit me, sir."

"I'm sure they will," cried the impatient Godfrey; "and you shall have them."

"Your hand, then;—it's a bargain," quoth Ikey, thrusting out his fist, and striking a heavy blow in the centre of Godfrey's palm. "Now, what's the job?"

Godfrey rapidly stated his case, and, with all the eloquence he possessed, endeavoured to stimulate the drowsy fellow, on whom his chief hopes now depended, to a state of activity. Ikey listened to him, with closed eyes, and did not seem to comprehend a tythe of what he heard. When Godfrey had concluded, he merely observed, "I'll have a shy!" and staggered out of the yard, more like a drunkard reeling home from a debauch, than a man despatched to find out an unknown individual in the heart of a busy and populous city.

"The William and Mary, by which I was to sail, lies at King-road," said Godfrey to the clerk, as Ikey Pope departed; "the wind, I perceive, is fair, and sail she will, this evening, without a doubt. Unfortunate fellow that I am!—every moment is an age to me."

"Perhaps you'd like to sit down in the office," said the clerk; "I can offer you a seat and yesterday's paper."

"Thank you, thank you!" replied Godfrey; "but I fear pursuit, too:—I cannot rest here."

The young man again walked into the streets: he inquired of almost every person he met, for the little black porter; but no one could give him any information. At last, a crowd began to gather around him, and he was, with very little ceremony, unanimously voted a lunatic. Two or three fellows had even approached to lay hands on him, when his eye suddenly encountered that of Ikey Pope: breaking through the crowd at once, he hurried back, with Ikey, to the wagon-office.

"I've won the boots," said Ikey, as they entered the yard.

"Which way?—how?—Have you seen him?—Where is he?" eagerly inquired Godfrey.

"I can't make out where he is," replied Ikey; "but I happened to drop into the house where he smokes his pipe, and there I heard the whole yam. He brought the chest there."

"Where?—where?"

"Why, to the Dog and Dolphin."

"Til fly—"

"Oh! it's of no use: the landlord says it was carried away again, by a pair of Pill-sharks; who, from what I can get out of him and his people, had orders to take it down the river, and put it aboard the William and Mary, what's now lying in Ringroad, bound for Demerary."

"Oh! then, I dare say it's all a mistake, and no roguery's intended," said the clerk, who had heard Ikey's statement: "the person found he was wrong, and, to make amends, has duly forwarded the trunk, pursuant to the direction on its cover."

"A chaise and four to Lamplighter's Hall, instantly!" shouted Godfrey.

"First and second turn, pull out your tits," cried the ostler: "put to, while I fill up a ticket."

"Are you going, sir?" said Ikey, to young Fairfax.

"On the wings of love," replied Godfrey.

"But the boots!"

"Ah! true. There,—there's a five pound note,—buy the best pair of Hessians you can get."

"What about the change?"

"Keep it or, oddso! yes,—distribute it among the porters; and be sure, Ikey, if ever I return to England, I'll make your fortune: I'd do it now, but I really haven't time."

In a few minutes, Godfrey was seated in a chaise, behind four excellent horses, and dashing along, at full speed, toward's Lamplighter's Hall. On his arrival at that place, he found, to his utter dismay, that the William and Mary had already set sail. After some little delay—during which he ascertained that his trunk had positively been carried on board—Godfrey procured a pilot-boat; the master of which undertook to do all that lay in the power of man to overtake the vessel. After two hours of intense anxiety, the pilot informed Godfrey, that, if the wind did not get up before sunset, he felt pretty sure of success. Far beyond the Holms, and just as the breeze was growing brisk, Godfrey, to his unspeakable joy, reached the deck of the William and Mary. The pilot immediately dropped astern; and, as soon as Godfrey could find utterance, he inquired for his trunk. It had already been so securely stowed away in the hold, that, as Godfrey was informed, it could not be hoisted on deck in less than half an hour. The impatient youth entreated that not a moment might be lost; and, in a short time, five or six of the crew, with apparent alacrity, but real reluctance, set about what they considered the useless task of getting the trunk out of the snug berth in which they had placed it.

It is now necessary for us to take up another thread of our story; for which purpose, we must return to that point of time when the wagon, which contained Godfrey's precious chest, slowly disappeared behind the brow of a hill, at the foot of which stood the worthy Doctor's residence. Patty Wallis, Isabel's maid and bosom friend, had, for some time past, been bought over to the interest of Charles Perry, to whom she communicated every transaction of importance that occurred in the house. On that eventful morning, she had acquainted Perry with Godfrey's plan,—the particulars of which her young mistress had confided to her, under a solemn pledge of secresy,—and Perry, from behind the hedge of an orchard, nearly opposite the Doctor's house, beheld young Fairfax consign his trunk to the care of the wagoners. Godfrey entered the house, as the heavy vehicle turned the summit of the hill; and Charles Perry immediately retreated from his place of concealment, to join his trusty groom, Doncaster Dick, who was waiting for him, with a pair of saddle horses, in a neighbouring lane.

"You've marked the game, I'll lay guineas to pounds!" exclaimed Dick, as Charles approached. "I'm sure I'm right;—I can see it by your eyes. Guineas to pounds, did I say?—I'd go six to four, up to any figure, on it."

"I wish you'd a thousand or two on the event, Dick," replied Charles Perry, exultingly; "you'd have a safe book at any odds."

"Well! I always thought how it would be: if there was fifty entered for the young lady, you'd be my first favourite; because for why?—as I've said scores of times,—if you couldn't beat'em out and out, you'd jockey them to the wrong side of the post."

"I hope you've not been fool enough to let any one know of Godfrey's scheme, or of my being acquainted with it:—'brush' is the word, if you have."

"I'd lay a new hat, sir, if the truth was known, you don't suspect me. You're pretty sure I'm not noodle enough to open upon the scent in a poaching party: I was born in Bristol and brought up at Doncaster to very little purpose, if ever I should be sent to heel for that fault. But won't you mount, sir?"

"I'm thinking, Dick," said Perry, who stood with one foot on the ground and the other in the stirrup;—"I'm thinking you had better push on by yourself, in order to avoid suspicion. Yes, that's the plan:—take the high road, and I'll have a steeple-chase run of it across the country. Make the best of your way to old Harry Tuffin's; put up the horse, watch for the wagon, and, as soon as it arrives, send a porter, who doesn't know you, to fetch the trunk:—you know how it's directed."

"But where am I to—"

"Have it brought to Tuffin's:—bespeak a private room, at the back part of the house; and order a chaise and four to be ready, at a moment's notice."

"But suppose, sir, Miss should be rusty?"

"I'm sure she loves me, Dick, let them say what they will: she wouldn't have attempted to ran away with this young Creole fellow, if she thought there was any chance of having me. Besides, what can she do?—her reputation, Dick,—consider that but I'm talking Greek to you. Be off—get the trunk to Tuffin's."

"And a thousand to three she's yours;—that's what you mean, sir," said Dick, touching his hat to Perry, as he turned his horse's head towards the high road. In a few moments he was out of sight, and Charles set off, at a brisk pace, down the lane.

On his arrival at Tuffin's, Perry found his trusty servant engaged in deep conversation, a few paces from the door, with a short, muscular, black man, whose attire was scrupulously neat, although patched in several places; his shoes were very well polished; his neckerchief was coarse, but white as snow; he wore a large silver ring on the little finger of his left hand; his hair was tied behind with great neatness; he had a porter's knot hanging on his arm: and, as Perry approached, he drew a small tin box from his waistcoat pocket, and took snuff with the air of a finished coxcomb.

"Is this the porter you've engaged, Dick?" inquired Perry.

"I couldn't meet with another," replied Dick, "besides, sir, he's not objectionable, I think;—he talks like a parson."

"But he's too old for the weight, Dick, I'm afraid. What's your age, friend?"

"A rude question, as some would say," replied the porter, with a smile and a bow; "but Cćsar Devallé is not a coy young beauty."

"So I perceive, Caesar,—if that's your name."

"You do me great honour," said the porter, "and I'm bound to venerate you, Mister—what shall I say? No offence;—but mutual confidence is the link of society. I am so far of that opinion, that I can boast of seven lovely children; and Mrs. Devallé, although full two-and-thirty when I took her in hand, already dances divinely: indeed, I can now safely confide to her the instruction of our infant progeny in the first rudiments of Terpsichore,—graceful maid!—while I teach my eldest boys the violin and shaving. We must get our bread as well as worship the muses, you know; for teeth were not given for nothing."

"No, certainly," observed Dick; "we know an animal's age by'em:—what's yours?"

"In round numbers—fifty."

"I fear, my learned friend," said Perry, "you are scarcely strong enough for my purpose."

"I am not equal to Hercules," replied the porter; "but I possess what that great man never did,—namely, a truck. I have often thought what wonders Hercules would have done, if somebody had made him a present of two or three trifles which we moderns almost despise. Life, you know, is short, and therefore machinery is esteemed: consequently, 'to bear and forbear' is my motto; for nobody can see the bottom of the briny waves."

"You are rather out at elbows in your logic, Cćsar," said Perry; "and your motto seems to me to be a non sequitur:—but you read, I perceive."

"Yes, when my numerous occupations permit me,—for spectacles are cheap: but I find numerous faults with the doctrine of chances; and those who pretend to see through a millstone, in my opinion—"

"Keep your eye up the street," Dick, interrupted Charles, turning from the Little Black Porter to his servant; "the wagon must be near at hand, by this time. Allow me to ask you, friend," continued he, again addressing Cćsar Devallé, "are you a regular porter?"

"Why, truly," replied Devallé, "the winds and the weather preach such doctrine to us, that I occasionally shave and give lessons on the violin. All nature is continually shifting;—why, then, should man be constant, except to his wife? Night succeeds the day, and darkness, light; and I certainly prefer practising a cotillon with a pupil, even if she's barefooted, to shouldering the knot. My terms are very moderate: but some people think ability lies only skin deep; to which class you, sir, certainly do not belong;—that is, if I know anything of a well-cut coat."

The Little Black Porter now retired, bowing and grinning, to a little distance, leaving Charles with his servant.

"I'll lay a pony, sir," said Dick, "the wagon isn't here this half-hour."

"Ridiculous!" exclaimed Perry. Dick, however, was right; forty minutes elapsed before the bells on the horses' heads were heard. In another half-hour, Godfrey's trunk, by the exertions of Perry, Dick, and the Little Black Porter, was removed from the truck on which Cćsar had brought it from the wagon-office, and triumphantly deposited on the floor of a back room in old Tuffin's house.

Trembling with joy, Charles Perry immediately proceeded to sever the cords. Leaving him occupied with that "delightful task," we shall take leave to carry the reader back again to the residence of Doctor Plympton.

It has already been stated that young Isabel stepped gaily into the chest. She continued to laugh, and actually enjoyed the novelty of her situation, for a few seconds after Godfrey Fairfax had closed the lid. But her courage began to sink, from the moment she heard the holt of the lock shot, with a noise, that seemed to her at once portentous and prodigious: she even uttered a faint scream; but her pride mastered her weakness in an instant, and her exclamation of alarm terminated in her usual apparently joyous, but, perhaps, heartless laugh. Godfrey, much to his delight, heard her tittering, during the short period he was occupied in securely cording up the trunk. "Now, my dear little heroine," whispered he, through the key-hole, as he fastened the last knot, "keep up your spirits; let the delightful thought of our early meeting, and years of subsequent bliss, support you through this trifling ordeal. Remember, I—mark me, Isabel!—I, who love you better than any other living creature does—I, who deem you the greatest treasure on earth,—I say you are quite safe. Do not forget that my happiness or misery are at the mercy of your courage and patience. I hear some one coming.—Adieu!—Au revoir, my love!"

Godfrey now left the room, and contrived to decoy Doctor Plympton, whom he met in the passage, down stairs to the study, where he amused the old gentleman, by some plausible detail of his future intentions with regard to mathematics and the dead languages, until the arrival of the wagon by which the trunk was to be conveyed to town.

Meantime, an event of considerable importance took place in the store-room. Isabel had made no reply to Godfrey's adieu; for the idea that she was so soon to be left alone, entirely deprived her of utterance; and, as the sound of his footsteps died away on her ear, she began to grow not only weary but terrified. Though incapable of judging of the real dangers of her situation, and blind to the impropriety of her conduct, her spirits were wofully depressed by imaginary terrors, which, however, were not, for a short period, sufficiently powerful to render her insensible to the personal inconvenience which she suffered. She thought of Juliet in the tomb, and felt sure, that were she to fall asleep, she should go mad in the first few moments after waking, under the idea that she was in her coffin, and had been buried alive. Her courage and pride completely deserted her: she moaned piteously, and her senses began to be affected. Luckily for her, perhaps, George Wharton, having nothing else to do, sauntered into the store-room, to see if Godfrey had finished packing up. He was not a little surprised to hear the voice of one in deep affliction proceed from the chest. After a moment's hesitation, during which he almost doubted the evidence of his ears, he knocked on the lid, and inquired if any one were within. It is almost needless to say, that the reply was in the affirmative.

"What trick is this?" exclaimed George. "Who is it?"

"Oh! dear Mr. Wharton! pray let me out," cried Isabel.

"Good Heavens! Isabel!—I'll fly for assistance."

"No; not for worlds! I could not wait for it. Cut the cords and break open the chest this moment, or I shall die."

With the aid of a pocket-knife and the poker, George soon emancipated Isabel from her place of confinement. Pale and sobbing, she sank into his arms, and vowed eternal gratitude to her kind deliverer, whom, she said, notwithstanding appearances, she loved better than any other being in existence.

"If so," said George, very naturally, "why do I find you in Godfrey's chest?"

"Don't I confess that appearances are against me?" exclaimed Isabel, pettishly; "what more would you have?"

"I am not unreasonable, Isabel: but I shall certainly talk to Mr. Fairfax, on this subject, before he leaves the house;—on that, I am resolved."

"No doubt you are; or to do anything else that you think will vex me."

"Nay, Isabel, you are too severe."

"Indeed," said Isabel, "I am quite the contrary: it is nothing but the excess of my foolish good-nature that has led me into this disagreeable situation. My frolic has cost me dear enough. That horrid Godfrey!"

"His conduct is atrocious; and I shall immediately mention it to the Doctor."

"My father would rate him soundly for it, I know; and he richly deserves a very long lecture: but 'forget and forgive,' George, has always been your motto, and I think I shall make it mine. Godfrey has been our companion for years; and it would be useless to make mischief, for a trifle, at the moment of his leaving us;'twere better, by far, to part friends. Besides, after all, poor fellow, one can scarcely blame him," added Isabel, with a smile, as her eye caught the reflection of her beautiful features in an old looking-glass; "even you, George, who are such an icy-hearted creature, say you would go through fire and water to possess me; and no wonder that such a high-spirited fellow as Godfrey—"

"I feel rather inclined, Miss Plympton," interrupted George, "to shew that my spirit is quite as high as his."

"Then be noble, George, and don't notice what has happened. It's entirely your own fault: you know his ardour,—his magical mode of persuading one almost out of one's sober senses, and yet you never can contrive to be in the way."

"My feelings, Isabel, are too delicate to—"

"Well, then, you must put up with the consequences. I am sure that some people, even if one don't like them much, influence one to be more complaisant to them, than to others whom one really loves; because others will not condescend to be attentive. But, come,—pray don't look so grave: I am sure I was nearly frightened out of my wits just now, and I don't look half so sorrowful as you; although, I protest, I haven't recovered yet. What are you thinking of?"

"I am thinking, Isabel," replied George, "that, after all, I had better speak to Godfrey; for, if I do not, when he discovers what has happened, he will certainly accuse me of the singular crime of stealing his sweetheart out of his box."

"Well, that's true enough: but we must contrive to avoid an éclaircissement. As the trunk is not perceptibly damaged, suppose you fasten it up again with the cords; and, by way of a joke, to make it of a proper weight, put in young Squire Perry's dog as my substitute. Godfrey vowed to kill him, you know, before he left us; and he did so, not above an hour ago, while the horrid creature was in the act of worrying my poor little Beaufidel. Godfrey said he should leave him, as a legacy, in the back-yard, for you to bury and bear the blame."

"I must confess," said Wharton, "it would be a pleasant retaliation: I certainly should enjoy it!"

"Then fly at once down the back stairs for the creature: nobody will see you:—go."

"Will you remain here?"

"Fie, George! Do you think I could endure the sight of the shocking animal?"

"Well, well;—but will you see Godfrey again?"

"Certainly not: I shall keep out of the way. It is arranged that he shall say I have the head-ache, and am gone to my room; so he'll insist upon waiving my appearance at his departure. Do as I tell you, my dear George, and we shall get rid of him delightfully."

Isabel now tripped lightly away to her little boudoir, where she was secure from intrusion; and Wharton proceeded to carry her ideas into execution with such unusual alacrity, that he had achieved his object long before the arrival of the wagon. He assisted in bringing the trunk down stairs; but his gravity was so much disturbed, by the very strict injunctions which Godfrey gave the wagoners to be more than usually careful with his property, that, for fear of betraying himself, he was compelled to make a precipitate retreat into the house. As soon as he was out of the hearing of his young rival, he indulged in an immoderate fit of laughter, which was echoed by Isabel, who, peeping through the window of her apartment, heartily enjoyed the anxiety which Godfrey, by his looks, appeared to feel for the safety of his chest and its precious contents. She kept out of sight until young Fairfax had departed; when Fatty Wallis was struck speechless, for nearly a minute, at being summoned by Isabel in person, to dress her for dinner.

The indignation and amazement of Charles Perry, on seeing his own dead dog in the trunk, where he had expected to find the fair form of the blooming and lively Isabel Plympton, may easily be imagined. His first emotions of wonder at the sight were quickly succeeded by the deepest regret for the death of his favourite dog: but his sorrow for the animal was suddenly extinguished by a most painful feeling of mortification, at having been so egregiously duped: at last, rage,—violent and ungovernable rage, seemed to master all other passions in his bosom. He raved like a Bedlamite, beat his forehead, tore his hair, stamped up and down the room, vowed to sacrifice, not only young Fairfax, Patty Wallis, Doctor Plympton, but even Doncaster Dick himself; and when his excitement had reached its highest pitch, he lifted the dead dog out of the chest, and hurled it, with all his might, at the head of Cćsar Devallé. The force of the blow threw the Little Black Porter on the floor, where he lay with the dog sprawling upon him; and his grimaces, and exclamations for rescue from the animal, appeared so exceedingly ludicrous to Charles Perry, that the young gentleman burst out into a violent and uncontrollable fit of laughter, in which he was most readily joined by Doncaster Dick.

Long before the merriment of either master or man had subsided, Cćsar contrived to extricate himself from the dog; and after adjusting his disordered cravat, began to express his deep indignation at the insult he had suffered. He intimated, in a tone tremulous with agitation, but in rather choice terms, that he should be quite delighted to know by what law or custom any person was authorized to hurl the corpse of a huge mastiff at the head of a citizen of the world; and why the alarming position of an inoffensive father of seven children, struggling to escape from an animal, which might, for aught he knew, be alive and rabid, should exhilarate any gentleman, whose parents or guardians were not cannibals; or any groom, except a Centaur. "If we are to be treated in this way," pursued he, "where is the use of tying our hair?—We may as well go about like logs in a stream, if gentlemen know nothing of hydrophobia, or the philosophy of the human heart. Even the brute creation teaches us many of our social duties: the cat washes her face, and even the duck smooths her feathers, in order that she may be known on the pond for what she is: but if a man is to embellish his exterior,—if we are to display the character of our minds by outward appearances, and yet be thrown at, for sport, like cocks on a Shrove Tuesday,—why, to speak plainly, the Ganges may as well be turned into a tea-pot, and the Arabian deserts be covered with Witney blankets."

"The short and the long of it is," said Dick, "he means, sir, that we ought to know, lookye, as how a man who ties his cravat in a small rosette, and shews a bit of frill, don't give or take horse-play. That's my translation of his rigmarole, and I'll lay a crown it's a true one."

"I suspect it is," said Perry, "and I'm sorry, porter, that—"

"Not a word more," interrupted Caesar, again suffering his features to relax from their state of grave restraint into his habitual smile;—"not a word more, I insist: to evince a disposition to make an ample apology, is quite satisfactory from one gentleman to a—to a—"

"To another, you would say," said Charles.

"You honour me vastly by this condescension, sir; and if ever I compose another cotillon, or Mrs. Devallé presents me with an eighth pledge of our affection, your name shall certainly be made use of. Gratitude is implanted even in stocks and stones; and the acorn that is only half munched by swine, grows into an oak, and, centuries after, becomes a ship, in which our celebrated breed of pigs is carried to the four quarters of the world. Even my namesake Cćsar, the Roman, and Hannibal, the Carthaginian—"

"Exactly,—exactly so," said Perry, turning on his heel and biting his lip, as the recollection of the trick which had been played upon him again flashed across his mind.

"I beg pardon," said Cesar, following him; "I don't think you foresaw, precisely—"

"Well, what were you going to say?" inquired Charles, in a tone of impatience.

"I was about to propose, that we should drown all future animosity in a bumper;—that is, if you would honour so humble a member of society as Cosar Devallé, by ordering the liquor. Shall I execute your commands?"

"Dick, get some brandy:—I could drink a glass myself."

"I'll step for a pint or so," quoth Cćsar; "I am fond of motion: it exemplifies the living principle, and—"

"No more of your observations, but begone," interrupted Charles. Devallé made a low bow, and immediately left the room. "The fellow's a fool," continued Charles, as the Little Black Porter closed the door. "What say you, Dick, to all this?"

"Why, sir," replied Dick, "I don't like to be over positive; but, to me, it looks rather like a pretty kettle of fish. Moreover, I'll lay a year's perquisites to half a pound, that Mr. Cćsar, the porter, is more rogue than ninny."

"What do you mean? Why do you wink in that manner?"

"Ah! I never winks without there's a notion or two in my head. A sensible horse don't throw his ears forward, unless there's something in the wind he thinks may be worth looking at. I can't make out which way we've been jockied in this form. Where lies the fault, sir?—that's what I want to know. Who put the dog in the box? I wish any one would answer that simple question."

"So do I, Dick, with all my heart."

"Well, then, it's clear there's a screw loose somewhere. I'll lay my leg it don't lie with little Patty.—Then where can it?"

"Ay, that's the point, Dick."

"Why, then, if I'm any judge, this little porter isn't twopence halfpenny better than he should be. He was a long while going for the trunk, you'll recollect: and when I told him that it was directed to Godfrey Fairfax, Esquire, 'Ay, ay!' says he, taking the words out of my mouth, 'Godfrey Fairfax, Esquire, of Demerary.' It did'nt strike me, then; but it seems rather oddish to me, now; and, in my mind, all the roguery was done 'twixt here and the wagon-office: I'll bet a guinea it was."

"Egad, Dick! you're generally right; and there seems some probability. But how shall we act?"

"Why, sir, I recommend that we should make him drunk, and pump him."

"But, suppose his head should prove too hard for ours, Dick."

"Never fear that, sir; I'll ring the changes, so that he shall do double duty."

"You forget, Dick, that all this time he may be making his escape. Run down stairs and look after him."

Dick walked to the door, but returned without opening it. "I hear his hoof on the stairs, sir," said he: "sharp's the word."

The Little Black Porter now entered the room, followed by a waiter with a decanter of brandy and three glasses. Bumpers were immediately filled, and the Little Black Porter and Dick drank young Perry's health: Charles then emptied his glass; more liquor was poured out, the Little Black Porter began to talk, and, in a very short time, the contents of the decanter were considerably diminished. Devallé drank, alternately, and it must be confessed, "nothing loath," to Dick and his master; and the groom, with much ingenuity, contrived to make him swallow at least thrice the quantity that either he or young Perry took. Caesar's eyes gradually grew bright; a slight stutter was perceptible in his speech; he unnecessarily used words of considerable length; and spoke familiarly of persons far above his own station in life.

"You seem to be acquainted with nearly all the residents of this neighbourhood," said Charles, drawing the Little Black Porter to a window; "can you inform me who lives in yonder old brick house, the window-shutters of which always appear closed?"

"The owner, sir," replied Cćsar, "is an opulent merchant, old and whimsical,—but age will have its errors; if not, why do we prop a tottering castle, and patch shoes? Nothing is incomprehensible if we adopt the doctrine of analogy; which, as more than one great writer observes, is an irrefragable proof that man is endowed with reasoning powers. The gentleman, whose house you now see, sir, sleeps by day, and dines at midnight. Far be it from me to say that he is wrong: there are quite enough of us, to dance attendance on the sun; why should not Luna have her votaries? There's no act of parliament to make man fall asleep at eleven precisely; Spitzbergen does not lie under the tropics, you know; and, perhaps, if I had my choice,—for flesh is grass,—I should prefer that latitude where it is three months day and three months night."

"And why so, Caesar?"

"Why, I need not tell you there's some difference between a rhinoceros and a sugar-cane; and, accordingly, I, for one, seldom or ever want to go to sleep, except when under the influence of a more cheerful cup than I usually take; in fact, when I'm in a state of inebriation, which rarely occurs,—for many mole-hills go to a mountain. But, on the other hand, when I do sleep,—so lovely is nature!—that I never should wake, for three months at least, I suspect,—though, of course, I never tried the experiment,—if Mrs. Devallé did not deluge me with soap-suds. I am told that soap contains alkali; and alkali, to some constitutions, is wholesome;—for fire, you know, will roast an ox;—and the custom of bears retiring into winter quarters, meets with my warmest approbation."

Before Perry and Caesar returned to the table, Doncaster Dick had secretly procured a fresh supply of brandy; with which Charles plied the Little Black Porter so vigorously, that Caesar was soon pronounced by Dick to be sufficiently intoxicated for their purpose. Young Perry and the groom then began to draw Caesar's attention to the dog; and endeavoured, by dint of wheedling, threats, and promises, to elicit from him what had taken place, with regard to the trunk while it was in his possession: but, as the porter had nothing to confess, all their attempts, of course, proved ineffectual; and Caesar, at last, dropped his head on his shoulder, and sank into a profound sleep.

"We have overdone it, Dick," said Perry; "we gave him too much, you see."

"Yes, sir," replied Dick, "you opened too hotly upon him;—that's clear. If you had left him to me, I'd have drawn him as gently as a glove."

Dick and his master, notwithstanding their precaution, had drunk sufficient to intoxicate them: they were ripe for mischief, and heedless of consequences. When Charles Perry, therefore, asked Dick what was to be done with the trunk, it is scarcely a matter of surprise, that Dick proposed packing the porter in it, and forwarding it according to the address on its cover; or that Charles, irritated as he felt, and still suspicious that Cćsar had been a party to the trick which had been played off upon him, gaily assented to the proposal. Cćsar was lifted into the box, and the cords securely fastened, in a very few minutes. Dick then sallied forth to ascertain where the ship lay. He soon returned with a couple of Pill boatmen, who informed Charles that the William and Mary was lying at Kingroad, and waiting only for the tide to put to sea: they were just about to return to Pill, and they undertook, for a small sum, to carry the chest down the river in their boat, and place it safely on board the vessel before she sailed.

It will, doubtless, be recollected that we left Godfrey Fairfax in a state of delightful agitation, on the deck of the William and Mary, while several of the crew were preparing to hoist his trunk out of the hold. As soon as it was brought on deck, Godfrey, with tears of joy glistening in his eyes, fell on his knees in front of it, and eagerly unfastened the cords. He trembled to find the bolt of the lock already shot back, and with the most anxious solicitude, threw up the cover: instead of the lovely face of Isabel, his eyes fell on that of the Little Black Porter! Uttering a shriek of horror, he leaped upon his feet, and stood aghast and speechless for several moments, gazing on Devallé.

The crew crowded round the chest, and Cćsar, who had been roused by Godfrey's exclamation, raised himself, and stared on the various objects by which he was surrounded,—expressing the utter astonishment he felt at his novel situation by such strange contortions of countenance and incoherent expressions, that the sailors, who at the first glimpse they had of Cćsar, in the box, were almost as much amazed as the Little Black Porter himself, began to laugh most heartily. Godfrey, at length, recovered sufficient possession of his faculties to grasp Devallé by the throat, and violently exclaim,—"Villain, explain! What have you done?"

"That is precisely what I wish to know," replied Cćsar, as soon as he could disengage himself from young Fairfax. "What have I done?—Why do I find myself here?—And where in the world am I?"

"In de Bristol Channel," chuckled the black cook, who stood tuning a fiddle by the side of the chest. "Him shipped in good order and condition, aboard de good ship William and Mary."

"Consigned, I see," added a sailor, "to Godfrey Fairfax, Esquire, of Demerara,—whither we're bound, direct,—'with care this side upwards.'"

"Godfrey Fairfax, of Demerara!—consigned to Demerara!" exclaimed Caesar, leaping out of the trunk: "Don't play with my feelings,—don't,—don't! If you are men, don't trifle with me. Your words are poisoned arrows to my poor heart."

"Massa Blackee no runaway slave, eh?" inquired the cook. "Unfortunate wretch that I am!" replied Cćsar; "flesh is frail, and liberty's wand is a sugar-cane. I feel driven by present circumstances to confess, that I certainly did escape in the hold of the Saucy Jane, from Demerara, thirty years ago. Fellow-creatures, do not refund me to my old master:—I was the property of Mr. Fairfax."

"Of my father!" exclaimed Godfrey.

"Miserable me! His son here, too!" said Caesar. "I have been kidnapped,—cheated! I'm a free man, though;—a citizen of the world; a housekeeper, and the father of seven lovely children: do not deprive them of their paternal support. Remember, I stand upon my rights: there are laws even for rabbits; English oak is the offspring of the land of liberty, and consequently I command somebody to put me ashore."

"How can we put you ashore, my good man?" asked a fellow in the garb of an hostler; "we're cantering along at the rate of twelve miles an hour before the wind; and I've lost sight of land this long time."

"I don't care for that:—a kangaroo isn't a cockroach, and I demand my privileges. Put back the ship, I say; I'm here by mistake."

"Put back the ship!" repeated the man in the stableman's dress; "don't make yourself so disagreeable in company. Do you think every body is to be turned to the right-about for you? I've got fifteen mules aboard under my care, and every hour is an object."

"My good sir," said Devallé, with a smile which he deemed irresistible, "think of my wife and family."

"Oh, nonsense! think of my mules."

"If there were but a being endowed with the sublime light of reason, among you," exclaimed Caesar, "I would shew by analogy,—yea, I would convince even any muleteer but this gentleman—"

"Now don't fatigue yourself, nor put yourself out of the way," interrupted the man whom Caesar designated as the muleteer; "we all know, that once free, always free; at least, so I've been told by them that ought to be dead as a nail upon such things: therefore it's only a pleasant trip for you to Demerary and back. Your old master can't take you again."

"But he will," said Cosar.

"But he can't," retorted the muleteer.

"But he will, I tell you: what is the use of your saying a bull can't legally gore me through the stomach, when I know that he will, whether he can or no? I must lift up my voice,—curse that fiddle! it's all out of tune," continued Devallé, snatching the instrument from the cook, who was scraping an old march upon it: "I shall lift up my voice, and protest loudly against this outrage. The downfal of Rome may be dated from the Sabine occurrence; therefore, I warn every body to restore me at once to my adopted land. Retract, I say," pursued the Little Black Porter, almost unconsciously tuning the fiddle, and then handing it back to the cook as he spoke; "retract, and land me, or you'll find, to your cost, that Demosthenes didn't put pebbles into his mouth for nothing."

Cćsar, however, was not endowed with sufficient eloquence to get restored to "home, love, and liberty." He appealed in vain to the officers of the ship: they said it was impossible for them to lie to, and land him; for night was coming on—the wind blew a capful—time was of the utmost importance—they touched nowhere on the voyage—and, unwilling as they were to be encumbered with him,—Jack in the box, (as Cćsar was already familiarly termed,) must positively go with them to Demerara.

Leaving the Little Black Porter and Godfrey Fairfax (who scarcely spoke a dozen words during the first week of the voyage) on board the William and Mary, we shall now return to some of the other characters in our tale.

Firmly believing that he had been the dupe of Patty, Isabel, and one or both of his rivals, Squire Perry concealed the circumstances which had occurred at the Dog and Dolphin; and, in a few months, to the great joy of Doctor Plympton, he left the neighbourhood entirely. George Wharton's affection for Isabel, in the mean time, had become so apparent, that several good-natured friends alluded to it, at the Doctor's table, in such plain terms, that the old gentleman was, at length, compelled to notice it. He said nothing, however, either to Isabel or George; but wrote to the young gentleman's father, in Jamaica, stating, that, singular to say, the young people had clearly fallen in love with each other, in the opinion of many who were very well qualified to judge in such matters, although, for his own part, he protested that he could scarcely believe it. "I entreat you," he continued, "not to attach any blame to me, on this occasion: I have done my duty to your son, who is as fine a scholar as ever I turned out of hand; although, I must confess, that, latterly, his diligence has visibly decreased. I beseech you, therefore, as he is sufficiently advanced in the classics to enter upon the grand stage of life, instead of suffering him to remain with me another year, which I believe was your intention, to send for him at once, and so blight this unhappy passion for my child in its very bud."

To the Doctor's astonishment, Mr. Wharton wrote, in reply, that nothing could give him greater pleasure than an alliance with so respectable a family as that of his old friend Plympton; that he highly approved of his son's choice; that he was by no means opposed to early marriages; that he had, by the same packet, communicated his ideas as to a settlement, to an able professional gentleman, who would, doubtless, speedily wait upon the Doctor for his approval to a draft deed; and that the sooner the match was made the better.

Adam Burdock, the old attorney of Furnival's Inn, was the professional gentleman alluded to in Mr. Wharton's epistle; and, in a few days after its arrival, Doctor Plympton, who found himself unable to communicate what had transpired to George and Isabel in person, made an excuse to come to London, and thence, by letter, afforded them the welcome intelligence.

The deeds were prepared with extraordinary despatch; and, after an absence of eleven days only, Doctor Plympton, accompanied by the attorney, returned home. On entering the parlour, he was rather surprised to find his own capacious elbow-chair occupied by a stranger of very singular appearance. After gazing for a moment at his unknown visitor, who was fast asleep, he turned to his companion, and muttered a few incoherent phrases, by which the attorney discovered that his host was extremely anxious to disclaim all previous acquaintance with the gentleman in the chair. The stranger still slept. He was attired in a short nankeen coat and waistcoat,—the latter lying open from the second button upward, evidently to display a frilled and very full-bosomed shirt; black small clothes, much the worse for wear; white silk stockings, hanging in bags about the calves, and exhibiting an elaborate specimen, from the knee-band to the instep, of the art of darning: his hands rested on a fine bamboo, and his head was embellished with a well-powdered wig:—it was the Little Black Porter.

Doctor Plympton coughed thrice with considerable emphasis, moved a chair with unnecessary violence, and very energetically poked the fire; but his guest still snored. He inquired of the attorney, by a look, what he should do. Burdock shrugged up his shoulders, smiled, and took a seat. Patty Wallis, who had been busy hitherto in receiving the luggage from the driver, now entered the room; George and Isabel immediately followed; and the joyous laugh of the latter at once produced the desired effect on the Little Black Porter. He was awake and on his legs in an instant; and, while he stood bowing and grinning at Isabel and the Doctor, Patty informed George, who had just returned with Isabel from a walk, that the stranger knocked at the door about ten minutes before, inquired for Miss Plympton, and, on being informed that she was out, but would probably return within half an hour, requested permission to wait, as he had something of importance to communicate.

Although the presence of his unknown guest was particularly annoying to him, Doctor Plympton addressed the Little Black Porter with his usual suavity, and begged he would resume his seat. A very awkward silence of several moments ensued; during which Cćsar took snuff with great self-complacency, brushed away the particles which had fallen on his frill, threw himself back in the chair, and seemed to be proud of the curiosity which he excited.

"My friend Doctor Plympton," at length observed the attorney, fixing his eye on Cćsar so firmly—to use his own expression—that he could not flinch from it, "my friend here, sir, would, doubtless, be happy to know what fortunate circumstance he is indebted to for the honour of your company?"

"I dare say he would," replied Cćsar; "but my business is with the young lady."

"With Isabel Plympton!" exclaimed George.

"Ay, sir!" replied the porter; "Cupid, the little blind god of hearts, you know—eh! Doctor? Ha, ha!—Well! who has not been young?—Cupid and his bow, and then his son Hymen! My toast, when I'm in spirits, always is—May Cupid's arrows be cut into matches to light Hymen's torch, but his bow never be destroyed in the conflagration."

"Come, come, sir!—this is foolery," said Wharton, who seemed to be much agitated;—"your business, at once."

"Foolery!" exclaimed Cćsar; "I will not suffer the dignity of man to be outraged in my person, remember; so take warning. Foolery, indeed!—but never mind; time is precious; wisdom has been rather improperly painted as an old woman with a flowing beard, and some of us have not long to live: so, as we are all friends, I will speak out my business without delay, provided I am honoured with Miss Isabel's permission."

"I would rather hear it in private," said the young lady. "Then I am dumb," quoth Cćsar: "Venus has sealed my lips with adamant."

"You are joking, Bell;—surely you are joking!" exclaimed young Wharton.

"Decidedly you are, child,—I say, decidedly," cried the Doctor.

"Indeed I am not, father," replied Isabel, with a gravity of manner which, with her, was almost unprecedented. "If he have aught to say to me, and to me alone, I will hear it alone, or not at all."

"You see, gentlemen," said Cćsar, "I should be very happy—but Venus has stopped my breath. I have been always a slave to the sex. Mahomet went to the mountain; and it is insolence in a rushlight to rival the moon. Do not entreat me, for I'm inflexible."

"No one entreats you, man," said George: "if Isabel Plympton, and such as you, have any private business with each other, I, for one, will not trouble you with my presence."

Young Wharton had no sooner uttered these words, than he walked out of the room.

"Good Heavens!" exclaimed the Doctor, "I never saw George so roused. Sir," added he, addressing the attorney, "he's the quietest creature in existence,—gentle as a lamb,—meek as a dove; his enemies, if it were possible for one of his kind disposition to have any, would say he was even too passive. I'm quite alarmed;—pray come with me,—pray do: assist me, sir, to soothe him. I'm quite unused to such events, and scarcely know how to act.—Excuse me, sir, a moment."

The last words of the Doctor were addressed, as he drew the attorney out of the room, to the Little Black Porter. "Don't mention it, sir," said Cćsar; "if we can't make free, why should crickets be respected? And now, young lady, as we are quite alone—"

"You come from Godfrey Fairfax," interrupted Isabel.

"Bless my soul!" exclaimed Cćsar;—"a witch!—the world's at an end! But I ascribe it to Cupid. How do you know—"

"I guessed—I was sure of it:—I dreamt of him last night. Give me his letter."

"His letter?"

"Yes;—have you not one from him?"

"I will not deny that I have; but I was only to deliver it on condition—"

"Don't talk of conditions give it to me, at once."

"There it is, then: your commands are my law. I have been a martyr to my submission to the fair, but I don't repent; and, as philosophy and analogy both concur—"

"Not another word," interrupted Isabel, "but leave the house:—go. What! Cupid's messenger, and demur?"

"Never:—I will fly. Wish for me, and Cćsar Devallé shall appear. I kiss your fair fingers."

The Little Black Porter perpetrated a bow in his best style, and closed the front door behind him, as Doctor Plympton returned to the parlour.

"He's very obstinate—George is," said the Doctor; "I can't account for it;—he won't come in. But where's the gentleman of colour?"

"Gone, father."

"Gone!"

"Yes; his business with me was brief, you see."

"That may be; but I assure you, Bell, I do not feel exactly satisfied with you. I should like to know—"

"Ask me no questions to-night, papa: I am not well, and I wish to retire. If you will permit me to go to my room at once. I will dutifully answer any thing you please in the morning."

"Well, go, my love;—go, and God bless you! but it's very mysterious for all that."

Isabel retired, and, in a short time, the attorney, followed by George Wharton, entered the parlour. They found the Doctor walking to and fro, with his arms folded across his breast, and evidently absorbed in thought. Their appearance roused him from his reverie: he advanced, very earnestly shook hands with both of them, and asked pardon for his want of urbanity; as an excuse for which, he protested, with ludicrous solemnity, that he scarcely knew whether he was walking on his head or his heels. "My pupil, too," he continued, looking at young Wharton, but addressing the attorney, "I regret to perceive, still clothes his countenance in the frowns of displeasure."

"Isabel is occupied in privately conferring somewhere with our new friend, I presume," said George.

"No, child—not at all," replied the Doctor, with affected calmness; "she is gone to her room: one of her old attacks of head-ache has occurred, and we may not expect to sec her again for the remainder of the evening. The gentleman of colour had departed before my return to the parlour."

"It would have been as well, I think, if you had not quitted it," said young Wharton, angrily: "I remember the time when you made Miss Plympton a close prisoner, and would suffer none but the inmates of your own house to speak to her, in order that she should not hold any communication with a young gentleman of respectable family who was well known in the neighbourhood: now, you leave her with a stranger of the most suspicious appearance, who boldly tells you that he has private business with her, which she refuses to hear even in your presence! But of course, Miss Plympton acquainted you with the purport of his visit."

"No, George, I declare she did not," said the Doctor, with great humility.

"What, sir! did she refuse when you insisted?"

"I did not insist," replied Doctor Plympton; "I did not insist, for she told me beforehand that she would answer no questions till the morning,—or something to that effect."

"You astonish me!"

"I confess that I was staggered myself:—but what could I do? She has grown out of her girlhood like a dream; and for the first time in her life, to my apprehension, my child stood as a woman before me. Her look, her tone, her posture, and, above all, the expression of her eye-brow, reminded me so strongly, on a sudden, of her majestic mother, that all my energies were suspended: the dead seemed to be raised from the grave, and I was awed before her. But a truce to this; it will not occur again. I was taken by surprise; and, by-the-by, George, on reflection, I feel compelled to observe, that it is impossible that I should submit to the dictatorial air which you thought fit to assume a few moments since. Remember, sir, who you are, and what I am; or rather, perhaps, what I was; for truly, I feel that I am not the man I recollect myself to have been:—that, however, is no excuse for you."

"On the contrary, sir," said George, affectionately taking the old man's hand, "it adds to my offence."

"You do not mean to convey, that you are conscious of any visible symptoms of my being unequal to my former self—do you?"

"By no means, sir; but—"

"Well, well! once more, enough of this. Let us think of our respectable guest, to whom I owe a thousand apologies, and order supper. Let us postpone all that's unpleasant until the morning; when, I have no doubt, this affair will prove to be a little farce, at which we shall all heartily laugh. The gentleman of colour is, doubtless, an itinerant vender of some of those numberless absurdities for the toilet or the work-box, which run away with a great portion of every girl's pocket-money. The idea did not strike me before, but I am almost persuaded that I am correct in my supposition; and doubtless, Isabel, piqued at your warmth,—which really almost electrified me,—determined to punish you, by affecting to be serious and making a mystery of the affair. Retaliate, George, by sleeping soundly to-night, and looking blithe and debonair, as the young Apollo newly sprung from his celestial couch, to-morrow morning."

In spite of the Doctor's occasional attempts to infuse some portion of gaiety into the conversation that ensued, a deep gloom reigned in his little parlour during the remainder of the evening. Very shortly after the removal of the cloth from the supper-table, the old attorney, much to the satisfaction of the Doctor and George, retired to his bed-room, and they immediately followed his example.

Isabel appeared at the breakfast-table the next morning; but her usual gaiety had vanished: she looked pale and thoughtful, and when addressed, she replied only in monosyllables. George Wharton was sullen, and the Doctor could not avoid betraying his uneasiness: he several times made such observations as he thought would infallibly force Isabel into an elucidation of the mysteries of the preceding evening; but she was proof against them all, and maintained an obstinate silence on the subject. Under the pretence of shewing the beauties of his pleasure-ground, Doctor Plympton drew the attorney, who was breakfasting with the most perfect professional non-chalance, from his chocolate and egg, to one of the windows; and there briefly, but pathetically, laid open the state of his mind. "I declare," said he, "I am nearly deprived of my reasoning faculties with amazement, at the conduct of Bell and the son of your respected client. So complete a metamorphosis has never occurred since the cessation of miracles. Each of them is an altered being, sir; they are the antipodes of what they were; and I assure you, it alarms,—it unnerves me. George, who used to be as bland as Zephyr, and obedient as a gentle child, either sits morose, or blusters, as you saw him last night, like a bully. And Bell, who indulged almost to an excess in the innocent gaieties of girlhood, is turned into marble: no one would believe, to look at her now, that she had ever smiled. She has lost her laugh, which used to pour gladness into my old heart, and is quite as dignified and almost as silent as some old Greek statue. How do you account for this?"

"Sir," replied Burdock, whose chocolate was cooling; "make yourself quite easy: such changes are no novelties to me; they must be attributed to the business of the day:—the execution of a deed of settlement, in contemplation of a speedy marriage, is an awful event to those who have never gone through the ceremony before. I have witnessed hysterics at a pure love-match, even when it was seasoned with money in profusion on both sides."

The attorney now strode back to his seat, and began his capital story relative to the great cause of Dukes and Driver. The Doctor reluctantly returned to the table, and seemed to listen to his guest; but his mind was occupied on a different subject; and when the cloth was removed, and the attorney's tale concluded, he was scarcely conscious that he had breakfasted, and knew no more of the merits of the case, than Beaufidel, who sat on a footstool, looking ruefully at his mistress, and evidently disappointed at not having been favoured with his usual portion of smiles and toast.

Immediately after breakfast, Burdock produced, from the recesses of his bag, the marriage settlement, and in a clear and distinct manner, proceeded to read over its contents,—occasionally pausing to translate its technical provisoes into common sense, and enjoining the young people boldly to mention any objections that might strike them to the language of the deed, so as to afford him an opportunity of explaining them away as they occurred. In the course of a couple of hours, he had gone through the drudgery of perusing half-a-dozen skins of parchment; and the gardener and Patty were called in to witness the execution of the deed by the young couple, and Doctor Plympton and Adam Burdock as trustees to the settlement.

It was a moment of interest:—George and the Doctor advanced to lead Isabel to the table; she started from her chair as they approached, hurried towards the deed, and snatched the pen which the attorney gallantly offered for her use. He guided her hand to the seal, against which she was to set her name; but the pen rested motionless on the parchment. After a moment's pause, the attorney looked up: Isabel's face, which had previously been exceedingly pale, was now of a deep crimson; her lips quivered; her eyes were fixed, apparently, upon some object that had appeared at the door of the room; and relinquishing her hold of the pen, she faintly articulated, "Forgive me, George,—Father, forgive me,—but I cannot do it!"

Following the direction of her eyes, Burdock turned round while Isabel was speaking, and, to his surprise, beheld the Little Black Porter, who stood bowing and grinning at the door.

George Wharton said a few words to encourage Isabel, and supported her with his arm; and her father, with clasped hands, repeated, in a sorrowful tone, "Cannot do it!"

"No,—no," said Isabel; "never, father,—never;—while he lives and loves me."

"He, child! Whom mean you?" exclaimed the old man.

"Godfrey Fairfax," replied Isabel, tremulously.

Her head dropped on her shoulder as she spoke; but though she was evidently fainting, George withdrew his hand from her waist, with an exclamation of deep disgust; and she would have sunk on the floor, had not the Little Black Porter, who had been gradually advancing, now sprung suddenly forward, and, pushing young Wharton aside, received her in his arms. The attention of George and the Doctor had been so rivetted on Isabel, that they were not aware of Devallé's presence until this moment. George no sooner beheld him, than he rushed out of the room; the astonished Doctor staggered to a chair; and the two servants, instead of assisting their mistress, stood motionless spectators of the scene. Burdock alone seemed to retain perfect possession of his senses: he requested the gardener to fetch the usual restoratives, and gently reproached Patty for her neglect.

While Patty, who now became very alert and clamorous, relieved the Little Black Porter from the burthen which he willingly supported, the attorney suggested to Doctor Plympton, the propriety of obtaining possession of a letter, the end of which was peeping out of Isabel's bosom, before she recovered; but the Doctor sat, heedless of his remark, gazing at his pale and inanimate child. Burdock, therefore, without loss of time, moved cautiously towards Isabel, and without being detected even by the waiting-maid, drew the letter forth. At that instant Isabel opened her eyes, and gradually recovered her senses. She intimated that she was perfectly aware of what Burdock had done; and, after requesting that the letter might be handed to her father, with the assistance of Patty she retired from the room.

The Little Black Porter was following Isabel and Patty as closely as possible, and had already placed one foot outside the door, when Doctor Plympton peremptorily ordered him to come back. Devallé returned, bowing very obsequiously; and when he had arrived within a pace or two of the Doctor's chair, with a strange mixture of humility and impudence, he inquired what were the honoured gentleman's commands.

The Doctor had entirely laid aside his usual suavity of deportment, and, in a loud voice, accompanied with violent gesticulation, he thus addressed the ever-smiling object of his wrath:—"Thou fell destroyer of my peace!—what art thou? Art thou Incubus, Succubus, or my evil spirit? Who sent thee? In what does thy influence over my child consist? Why am I tortured by thy visitation?—Speak—explain to me—unfold thy secret—or I shall forget my character, and do I know not what."

"Pray be moderate, my dear friend," said Burdock, interposing his person between the Doctor and Devallé.

"Ay, ay,—that is wisely said,—pray be moderate, my dear friend," repeated Devallé; "we are all like the chaff which we blow away with the breath of our own nostrils. Be calm—be calm: let us be rational, and shew our greatest attribute. A man that is a slave to passion, is worse than a negro in a plantation:—he's a wild beast. I don't wish to be rude, for life is short; and more than one great man has been cut off by a cucumber: but I must observe, that a passionate gentleman is very likely to make holes in his manners.—What says our legal friend? Caesar Devallé will feel honoured in being permitted utterly to abandon himself to the good gentleman's opinion. Arbitration against argument always has my humble voice: and if a man wishes to get well through the world, civility is the best horse he can ride."

"If your observations are addressed to me," said the attorney, "they are unwelcome. Restrict your discourse to plain answers to such questions as I shall put to you. Now attend did you deliver this letter last night to Miss Plympton?"

"Why does the gentleman ask?"

"I suspect you did."

"Avow or deny it, sirrah! at once," exclaimed the Doctor.

"Oh, pardon me, there," replied Devallé; "we are all men: the cat expects to be used after its kind; and if a man is to be treated like a dog, he may as well bark, and wear a tail at once. I can bear a blow as well as most people, from a blackguard; but, with gentlemen, I expect a certain behaviour. Resentment is found in the breast of a camel; and there is no doubt but that man is endowed with feelings:—if not, why do we marry?"

"Well, my good friend," said the attorney, changing his manner entirely from that which he had adopted in his first category, "perhaps you may be right: we will not dispute the points you have raised; but you must allow that Doctor Plympton has some excuse for being warm. Appearances are strong; but I doubt not you will, as an honest man, unequivocally answer us, and clear them up."

"Oh, sir," replied Devallé, "I am yours devotedly: ask me no questions; for I do not like to have what I know tugged out of my conscience by an attorney, like jaw-teeth with nippers, or corks from a bottle by a twisting screw; for I have a large family, and am more than fifty years old. I will tell you frankly, that I did give Miss that letter: I was sent on a special mission with it to her from Demerara. I went out in the same ship with Mr. Godfrey Fairfax: on landing, we found that his father had just died, and left him heir to all; then, as flesh is grass, he sent me back at once with orders—if Miss was not married—to give her his billet-doux. That's the truth: I confess it freely, for it's useless to deny it; and our heads will lie low enough a hundred years hence. Perhaps you will not take it uncivil in me to say, that you would have found all that I have said, and more, in fewer words, if, instead of calling me sirrah, and so forth, you had perused Mr. Godfrey's letter. Excuse me, but the philosopher could not read the stars until somebody told him to buy a telescope. I am for civility, mutual improvement, and freedom all over the world. And now, gentlemen, I hope you will permit me to retire. I must find my wife and family: I have not made a single inquiry for them yet; though they occupy all my waking thoughts, and are the dramatis personae of my little dreams. I humbly withdraw, but shall soon be in the neighbourhood again,—for locomotion is salubrious; and, if this present match with Miss be not strangled, I hope to have the honour of seeing you in church, in order, humble as I am, to forbid the banns. You would not smile, perhaps, if it occurred to your recollection, as it does to mine, that lions have been emancipated by mice, and more than one hero has been choked by a horsebean. It is for these reasons, I apprehend, judging from analogy,—a doctrine I reverence,—that cattle pasturing on a common or warren, abhor rabbit-burrows, and we, ourselves, detest and exterminate scorpions and wasps.—Gentlemen, your most humble and very devoted servant, Cćsar Devallé."

With his usual multitude of obeisances, the Little Black Porter now left Doctor Plympton and the attorney to peruse the love-letter of Godfrey Fairfax to Isabel. It abounded with professions of the most passionate attachment; the deepest regret was expressed at the writer's present inability to return to England; but he vowed to fly to Isabel, on the wings of love, early in the ensuing summer, if she still considered his hand worthy of her acceptance. He stated, that he was unable to solve the mystery of her escape from the trunk: he feared that something unpleasant had happened, but clearly exonerated his fond, confiding Isabel from having borne any share in the base plot which had evidently been played off against him.

These allusions to the affair of the trunk, were beyond Doctor Plympton's comprehension; Burdock, however, obtained a tolerably dear insight to the circumstances from Isabel, Patty, George Wharton, and Cćsar Devallé, at an interview which he subsequently had with the Little Black Porter in Fumival's Inn. When he communicated the result of his investigations on the subject to the Doctor, that worthy personage protested that he should pass the residue of his life in mere amazement.

George Wharton quitted Doctor Plympton's house, without seeing Isabel again, on the eventful morning when the pen was placed in her hand to execute the marriage settlement; and, with the full approbation of his father's attorney, he sailed, by the first ship, to his native land. Isabel prevailed upon the Doctor to write to Godfrey Fairfax, inviting him to fulfil his promise of paying them a visit. She also wrote to Godfrey herself, by the same packet: but the fickle young man had changed his mind before the letters reached him; and six years after the departure of George Wharton from England, Adam Burdock was employed to draw a marriage settlement between the still blooming coquette, Isabel Plympton, and her early admirer, Charles Perry, who for the preceding fifteen months had been a widower. The Little Black Porter did not think proper to return to Demerara again; and he was seen in a very decent wig, by the side of the gallery clock, when Mr. Wilberforce last spoke against slavery, in the House of Commons.