Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

with his head in his lap, which wore an expression of piteous surprise.

At this minute Mr. Gale entered from the front shop to show a customer some delf plates; and he did not see-but we didthe figure rise up from the porcelain stool, shake its head, which it held in its hand, and which kept its eyes fixed sadly on us, and disappeared behind the guillotine.

Come to the Gray's-inn Coffee house, Pinto said, “and I will tell you how the notch came to the axe.” And we walked down Holborn about thirty-seven minutes past six o'clock.

If there is anything in the above statement which astonishes the reader, I promise him that in the next chapter of this little story he will be astonished still more.

PART II.

was

a

“You will excuse me," I said, to my companion, “for remarking, that when you addressed the individual sitting on the porcelain stool, with his head in his lap, your ordinarily benevolent features ”. (this I confess bouncer, for between ourselves a more sinister and ill-looking rascal than' Mons. P. I have seldom set eyes on)--"your ordinarily handsome face wore an expression that was by no means pleasing. You grinned at the individual just as you did at me when you went up to the cei, pardon me, as I thought you did, when I fell down in a fit in your chambers;" and I qualified my words in a great flutter and tremble ; I did not care to offend the man I did not dare to offend the man. I thought once or twice of jumping into a cab and flying ; of taking refuge in Day and Martin's Blacking Warehouse ; of speaking to a policeman, but not one would come.

I was this man's slave. I followed him like his dog. I could not get away from him.

So, you see, I went on meanly conversing with him, and affecting a simpering confidence. I remember, when I was a little boy at school, going up fawning and smiling in this way to some great hulking bully of a sixth-form boy. So I said in a word, “Your ordinarily handsome face wore a disagreeable expression,” &c.

“It is ordinarily very handsome," said he, with such a leer at a couple of passers-by, that one of them cried, “Oh, crikey, here's a precious guy!” and a child, in its nurse's arms, screamed itself into convulsions. Oh, oui, che suis très-choli garçon.

saw me.

me.

bien peau, cerdainement,continued Mr. Pinto; " but you were right. That—that person was not very well pleased when he

There was no love lost between us, as you say; and the world never knew a more worthless miscreant. I hate him, voyez-vous ? I hated him alife; I hate him dead. I hate him man; I hate him ghost : and he know it, and tremble before

If I see him twenty tausend years hence—and why not? -I shall hate him still. You remarked how he was dressed ? "

"In black satin breeches and striped stockings ; a white piqué waistcoat, a gray coat, with large metal buttons, and his hair in powder. He must have worn a pigtail--only

“ Only it was cut off! Ha, ha, ha!” Mr. Pinto cried, yelling a laugh, which I observed made the policemen stare very much. “ Yes. It was cut off by the same blow which took off the scoundrel's head-ho, ho, ho !” And he made a circle with his hook-nailed finger round his own yellow neck, and grinned with a horrible triumph. “I promise you that fellow was surprised when he found his head in the pannier. Ha! ha! Do you ever cease to hate those whom you hate ? "-fire flashed terrifically from his glass eye as he spoke—"or to love dose whom you once loved. Oh, never, never !” And here his natural eye was bedewed with tears. “ But here we are at the Gray's-inn Coffee-house.' James, what is the joint?"

That very respectful and efficient waiter brought in the bill of fare, and I, for my part, chose boiled leg of pork and peasepudding, which my acquaintance said would do as well as anything else; though I remarked he only trifled with the pease-pudding, and left all the pork on the plate. In fact, he scarcely ate anything. But he drank a prodigious quantity of wine ; and I must say that my friend Mr. Hart's port-wine is so good that I myself took-well, I should think, I took three glasses. Yes, three, certainly. He-I mean Mr. P.--the old rogue, was insatiable : for we had to call for a second bottle in no time. When that was gone my companion wanted another. A little red mounted up to his yellow cheeks as he drank the wine, and he winked at it in a strange manner. “I remember," said he, musing, "when port-wine was scarcely drunk in this country—though the Queen liked it, and so did Harley; but Bolingbroke didn't-he drank Florence and Champagne. Dr. Swift put water to his wine. ' Jonathan,' I once said to him -but bah! autres temps, autres maurs.

Another magnum, James.”

This was all very well. “My good sir," I said, "it may suit you to order bottles of '20 port, at a guinea a bottle ; but

that kind of price does not suit me. I only happen to have thirty-four and sixpence in my pocket, of which I want a shilling for the waiter and eighteenpence for my cab. You rich foreigners and swells may spend what you like" (I had him there : for my friend's dress was as shabby as an old-clothesman's); " but a man with a family, Mr. What-d'you-call'im, cannot afford to spend seven or eight hundred a year on his dinner alone.”

“ Bah!” he said. Nunkey pays for us all, as you say. I will what you call stant the dinner, if you are so poor !and again he gave that disagreeable grin, and placed an odious crooked-nailed and by no means clean finger to his nose. But I was not so afraid of him now, for we were in a public place; and the three glasses of port-wine had, you see, given me courage.

“What a pretty snuff-box!” he remarked, as I handed him mine, which I am still old-fashioned enough to carry. It is a pretty old gold box enough, but valuable to me especially as a relic of an old, old relative, whom I can just remember as a child, when she was very kind to me. “Yes; a pretty box. I can remember when many ladies-most ladies, carried a boxnay, two boxestabatière and bonbonnière. What lady carries snuff-box now, hey? Suppose your astonishment if a lady in an assembly were to offer you a prise? I can remember a lady with such a box as this, with a tour, as we used to call it then ; with paniers, with a tortoise-shell cane, with the prettiest little high-heeled velvet shoes in the world !-ah! that was a time that was a time! Ah, Eliza, Eliza, I have thee now in my mind's eye! At Bungay on the Waveney, did I not walk with thee, Eliza? Aha, did I not love thee? Did I not walk with thee then? Do I not see thee still ? "

This was passing strange. My ancestress—but there is no need to publish her revered name—did indeed live at Bungay St. Mary's, where she lies buried. She used to walk with a tortoise-shell cane. She used to wear little black velvet shoes, with the prettiest high heels in the world.

you—did you-know, then, my great gr-ndm-ther?” I said.

He pulled up his coat-sleeve—“Is that her name?” he said.

Eliza

There, I declare, was the very name of the kind old creature written in red on his arm.

You knew her old,” he said, divining my thoughts (with

1

• Did

-?"

his strange knack); " I knew her young and lovely. I danced with her at the Bury ball. Did I not, dear, dear Miss

As I live, he here mentioned dear gr-nny's mailen name. Her maiden name was

Her honored married name

was

“She married your great gr-ndf-th-r the year Poseidon won the Newmarket Plate,” Mr. Pinto dryly remarked.

Merciful powers! I remember over the old shagreen knife and spoon-case on the sideboard in my gr-nny's parlor, a print by Stubbs of that very horse. My grandsire, in a red coat, and his fair hair flowing over his shoulders, was over the mantelpiece, and Posiedon won the Newmarket Cup in the year 1783!

Yes ; you are right. I danced a minuet with her at Bury that very night, before I lost my poor leg. And I quarrelled with your grandf

ha!” As he said “Ha!" there came three quiet little taps on the table—it is the middle table in the “Gray’s-inn Coffee-house," under the bust of the late Duke of W-ll-ngt-n.

“I fired in the air," he continued ; "did I not?(Tap, tap, tap.) “Your grandfather hit me in the leg. He married three months afterwards. “Captain Brown,' I said, ' who could see Miss Sm-th without loving her ?' She is there! She is there!” (Tap, tap, tap.) “Yes, my first love

But here there came tap, tap, which everybody knows means “No."

“I forgot,” he said, with a faint blush stealing over his wan features, “she was not my first love. In Germ- -in my own country—there was a young woman

Tap, tap, tap. There was here quite a lively little treble knock; and when the old man said, “ But I loved thee better than all the world, Eliza,” the affirmative signal was briskly repeated.

And this I declare UPON MY HONOR. There was, I have said, a bottle of port-wine before us—I should say a decanter. That decanter was LIFTED UP, and out of it into our respective glasses two bumpers of wine were poured. I appeal to Mr. Hart, the landlord-I appeal to James, the respectful and intelligent waiter, if this statement is not true? And when we had finished that magnum, and I said—for I did not now in the least doubt of her presence—“Dear grunny, may we have another magnum?"—the table distinctly rapped "No."

“Now, my good sir," Mr. Pinto said, who really began to be affected by the wine, “you understand the interest I have taken in you. I loved Eliza (of course I don't mention

[ocr errors]

family names). “I knew you had that box which belonged to her—I will give you what you like for that box. Name your price at once, and I pay you on the spot.”

Why, when we came out, you said you had not sixpence in your pocket.”

Bah! give you anything you like-fifty—a hundred-a tausend pound."

Come, come,” said I, “the gold of the box may be worth nine guineas, and the façon we will put at six more.

"One tausend guineas !” he screeched. “ One tausend and fifty pound, dere !” and he sank back in his chair-no, by the way, on his bench, for he was sitting with his back to one of the partitions of the boxes, as I dare say James remembers.

Don't go on in this way,” I continued, rather weakly, for I did not know whether I was in a dream. “ If you offer me a thousand guineas for this box I must take it. Musn’t I, dear

66

66

gr-nny?

The table most distinctly said, “ Yes ;” and putting out his claws to seize the box, Mr. Pinto plunged his hooked nose into it and eagerly inhaled some of my 47 with a dash of Hardman.

“But stay, you old harpy ! ” I exclaimed, being now in a sort of rage, and quite familiar with him.

“ Where is the money. Where is the check ?”

"James, a piece of note-paper and a receipt-stamp !”

“ This is all mighty well, sir,” I said, “but I don't know you; I never saw you before. I will trouble you to hand me that box back again, or give me a check with some known signature."

“Whose ? Ha, HA, HA!”

The room happened to be very dark. Indeed, all the waiters were gone to supper, and there were only two gentlemen snoring in their respective boxes. I saw a hand come quivering down from the ceiling-a very pretty hand, on which was a ring with a coronet, with a lion rampant gules for a crest. I saw that hand take a dip of ink and write across the paper. Mr. Pinto, then, taking a gray receipt-stamp out of his blue leather pocket-book, fastened it on to he paper by the usual process ; and the hand then wrote across the receipt-stamp, went across the table and shook hands with Pinto, and then, as it waving him adieu, vanished in the direction of the ceiling.

There was the paper before me, wet with ink. There was the pen which The Hand had used. Does anybody doubt me ? I have that pen now.

A cedar-stick of a not uncommon sort, and holding one of Gillott's pens. It is in my inkstand now, I

« AnteriorContinuar »