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,
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
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
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
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—"
"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
"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
"Don't talk to me of your tickets, but answer me, scoundrel!"
"Where has the villain conveyed it?"
"Who was he?"
"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—"
"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."
"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,
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
"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?"
"Should you know him again?"
"No!" replied Ikey, and his head disappeared behind a large package as he
"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
"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,
"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?"
"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
"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
"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
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
"I'm sure they will," cried the impatient Godfrey; "and you shall have
"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
"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."
"Why, to the Dog and Dolphin."
"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,
"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
"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
"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
"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,
"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
"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
"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
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
"If so," said George, very naturally, "why do I find you in Godfrey's
"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
"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
"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
"Will you remain here?"
"Fie, George! Do you think I could endure the sight of the shocking
"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
"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,
"Well, what were you going to say?" inquired Charles, in a tone of
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
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
"I dare say he would," replied Cćsar; "but my business is with the young
"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
"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
"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."
"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
"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?"
"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
"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
"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
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
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
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
"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
"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.