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The Garies and Their Friends
by Frank J. Webb
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"I guess she has been giving Alfred a blowing up," said Betsy, "for setting him at boot cleaning; for he looked like a thunder-cloud when he came down stairs, and was muttering something about a consarned pet-nigger—he looked anything but pleased."

Whilst the lower powers were discussing what they were pleased to regard as an evidence of some mental derangement on the part of Mrs. Bird, that lady was questioning Charlie respecting his studies, and inquired if he would like to go to school in Warmouth.

"After a while, I think I should," he replied; "but for a week I'd like to be free to run about the fields and go fishing, and do lots of things. This is such a pretty place; and now that you have come I shall have nice times—I know I shall."

"You seem to have great confidence in my ability to make you happy. How do you know that I am as kind as you seem to suppose?" asked Mrs. Bird, with a smile.

"I know you are," answered Charlie, confidently; "you speak so pleasantly to me. And do you know, Mrs. Bird," continued he, "that I liked you from the first day, when you praised me so kindly when I recited my lessons before you. Did you ever have any little boys of your own?"

A change immediately came over the countenance of Mrs. Bird, as she replied: "Oh, yes, Charlie; a sweet, good boy about your own age:" and the tears stood in her eyes as she continued. "He accompanied his father to England years ago—the ship in which they sailed was never heard of—his name was Charlie too."

"I didn't know that, or I should not have asked," said Charlie, with some embarrassment of manner caused by the pain he saw he had inflicted. "I am very sorry," he continued.

Mrs. Bird motioned him to finish his breakfast, and left the table without drinking the tea she had poured out for herself.

There were but one or two families of coloured people living in the small town of Warmouth, and they of a very humble description; their faces were familiar to all the inhabitants, and their appearance was in accordance with their humble condition. Therefore, when Charlie made his debut, in company with Mrs. Bird, his dress and manners differed so greatly from what they were accustomed to associate with persons of his complexion, that he created quite a sensation in the streets of the usually quiet and obscure little town.

He was attired with great neatness; and not having an opportunity of playing marbles in his new suit, it still maintained its spotless appearance. The fine grey broadcloth coat and pants fitted him to a nicety, the jaunty cap was set slightly on one side of his head giving him, a somewhat saucy look, and the fresh colour now returning to his cheeks imparted to his face a much healthier appearance than it had worn for months.

He and his kind friend walked on together for some time, chatting about the various things that attracted their attention on the way, until they reached a cottage in the garden of which a gentleman was busily engaged in training a rosebush upon a new trellis.

So completely was he occupied with his pursuit that he did not observe the entrance of visitors, and quite started when he was gently tapped upon the shoulder by Mrs. Bird.

"How busy we are," said she, gaily, at the same time extending her hand—"so deeply engaged, that we can scarcely notice old friends that we have not seen for months."

"Indeed, this is a pleasant surprise," he remarked, when he saw by whom he had been interrupted. "When did you arrive?"

"Only this morning; and, as usual, I have already found something with which to bore you—you know, Mr. Whately, I always have something to trouble you about."

"Don't say trouble, my dear Mrs. Bird; if you will say 'give me something to occupy my time usefully and agreeably,' you will come much nearer the mark. But who is this you have with you?"

"Oh, a little protege of mine, poor little fellow—he met with a sad accident recently—he broke his arm; and I have brought him down here to recruit. Charlie, walk around and look at the garden—I have a little matter of business to discuss with Mr. Whately, and when we shall have finished I will call you."

Mr. Whately led the way into his library, and placing a seat for Mrs. Bird, awaited her communication.

"You have great influence with the teacher of the academy, I believe," said she.

"A little," replied Mr. Whately, smiling.

"Not a little," rejoined Mrs. Bird, "but a great deal; and, my dear Mr. Whately, I want you to exercise it in my behalf. I wish to enter as a scholar that little boy I brought with me this morning."

"Impossible!" said Mr. Whately. "My good friend, the boy is coloured!"

"I am well aware of that," continued Mrs. Bird; "if he were not there would not be the least trouble about his admission; nor am I sure there will be as it is, if you espouse his cause. One who has been such a benefactor to the academy as yourself, could, I suppose, accomplish anything."

"Yes; but that is stretching my influence unduly. I would be willing to oblige you in almost anything else, but I hesitate to attempt this. Why not send him to the public school?—they have a separate bench for black children; he can be taught there all that is necessary for him to know."

"He is far in advance of any of the scholars there. I attended the examination of the school to which he was attached," said Mrs. Bird, "and I was very much surprised at the acquirements of the pupils; this lad was distinguished above all the rest—he answered questions that would have puzzled older heads, with the greatest facility. I am exceedingly anxious to get him admitted to the academy, as I am confident he will do honour to the interest I take in him."

"And a very warm interest it must be, my dear Mrs. Bird, to induce you to attempt placing him in such an expensive and exclusive school. I am very much afraid you will have to give it up: many of the scholars' parents, I am sure, will object strenuously to the admission of a coloured boy as a scholar."

"Only tell me that you will propose him, and I will risk the refusal," replied Mrs. Bird—"it can be tried at all events; and if you will make the effort I shall be under deep obligations to you."

"Well, Mrs. Bird, let us grant him admitted—what benefit can accrue to the lad from an education beyond his station? He cannot enter into any of the learned professions: both whilst he is there, and after his education is finished, he will be like a fish out of water. You must pardon me if I say I think, in this case, your benevolence misdirected. The boy's parents are poor, I presume?"

"They certainly are not rich," rejoined Mrs. Bird; "and it is for that reason I wish to do all that I can for him. If I can keep him with me, and give him a good education, it may be greatly for his advantage; there may be a great change in public sentiment before he is a man—we cannot say what opening there may be for him in the future."

"Not unless it changes very much. I never knew prejudice more rampant than it is at this hour. To get the boy admitted as a right is totally out of the question: if he is received at all, it will be as a special favour, and a favour which—I am sure it will require all my influence to obtain. I will set about it immediately, and, rely upon it, I will do my best for your protege."

Satisfied with the promise, which was as much as Mrs. Bird had dared to hope for, she called Charlie, then shook hands with Mr. Whately and departed.



CHAPTER XV.

Mrs. Stevens gains a Triumph.

The Garies had now become thoroughly settled in Philadelphia, and, amongst the people of colour, had obtained a very extensive and agreeable acquaintance.

At the South Mr. Garie had never borne the reputation of an active person. Having an ample fortune and a thoroughly Southern distaste for labour, he found it by no means inconvenient or unpleasant to have so much time at his disposal. His newspaper in the morning, a good book, a stroll upon the fashionable promenade, and a ride at dusk, enabled him to dispose of his time without being oppressed with ennui.

It was far happier for him that such was his disposition, as his domestic relations would have been the means of subjecting him to many unpleasant circumstances, from which his comparative retirement in a great measure screened him.

Once or twice since his settlement in the North his feelings had been ruffled, by the sneering remarks of some of his former friends upon the singularity of his domestic position; but his irritation had all fled before the smiles of content and happiness that beamed from the faces of his wife and children.

Mrs. Garie had nothing left to wish for; she was surrounded by every physical comfort and in the enjoyment of frequent intercourse with intelligent and refined people, and had been greatly attracted toward Esther Ellis with whom she had become very intimate.

One morning in November, these two were in the elegant little bed-room of Mrs. Garie, where a fire had been kindled, as the weather was growing very chilly and disagreeable. "It begins to look quite like autumn," said Mrs. Garie, rising and looking out of the window. "The chrysanthemums are drooping and withered, and the dry leaves are whirling and skimming through the air. I wonder," she continued, "if the children were well wrapped up this morning?"

"Oh, yes; I met them at the corner, on their way to school, looking as warm and rosy as possible. What beautiful children they are! Little Em has completely won my heart; it really seems a pity for her to be put on the shelf, as she must be soon."

"How—what do you mean?" asked Mrs. Garie.

"Oh, this will explain," archly rejoined Esther, as she held up to view one of the tiny lace trimmed frocks that she was making in anticipation of the event that has been previously hinted.

Mrs. Garie laughed, and turned to look out of the window again.

"Do you know I found little Lizzy Stevens, your neighbour's daughter, shivering upon the steps in a neighbouring street, fairly blue with cold? She was waiting there for Clarence and Em. I endeavoured to persuade her to go on without them, but she would not. From what I could understand, she waits for them there every day."

"Her mother cannot be aware of it, then; for she has forbidden her children to associate with mine," rejoined Mrs. Garie. "I wonder she permits her little girl to go to the same school. I don't think she knows it, or it is very likely she would take her away."

"Has she ever spoken to you since the night of her visit?" asked Esther.

"Never! I have seen her a great many times since; she never speaks, nor do I. There she goes now. That," continued Mrs. Garie, with a smile, "is another illustration of the truthfulness of the old adage, 'Talk of—well, I won't say who,—'and he is sure to appear.'" And, thus speaking, she turned from the window, and was soon deeply occupied in the important work of preparing for the expected little stranger. Mrs. Garie was mistaken in her supposition that Mrs. Stevens was unaware that Clarence and little Em attended the same school to which her own little girl had been sent; for the evening before the conversation we have just narrated, she had been discussing the matter with her husband.

"Here," said she to him, "is Miss Jordan's bill for the last quarter. I shall never pay her another; I am going to remove Lizzy from that school."

"Remove her! what for? I thought I heard you say, Jule, that the child got on excellently well there,—that she improved very fast?"

"So she does, as far as learning is concerned; but she is sitting right next to one of those Garie children, and that is an arrangement I don't at all fancy. I don't relish the idea of my child attending the same school that niggers do; so I've come to the determination to take her away."

"I should do no such thing," coolly remarked Mr. Stevens. "I should compel the teacher to dismiss the Garies, or I should break up her school. Those children have no right to be there whatever. I don't care a straw how light their complexions are, they are niggers nevertheless, and ought to go to a nigger school; they are no better than any other coloured children. I'll tell you what you can do, Jule," continued he: "call on Mrs. Kinney, the Roths, and one or two others, and induce them to say that if Miss Jordan won't dismiss the Garies that they will withdraw their children; and you know if they do, it will break up the school entirely. If it was any other person's children but his, I would wink at it; but I want to give him a fall for his confounded haughtiness. Just try that plan, Jule, and you will be sure to succeed."

"I am not so certain about it, Stevens. Miss Jordan, I learn, is very fond of their little Em. I must say I cannot wonder at it. She is the most loveable little creature I ever saw. I will say that, if her mother is a nigger."

"Yes, Jule, all that may be; but I know the world well enough to judge that, when she becomes fully assured that it will conflict with her interests to keep them, she will give them up. She is too poor to be philanthropic, and, I believe, has sufficient good sense to know it."

"Well, I'll try your plan," said Mrs. Stevens; "I will put matters in train to-morrow morning."

Early the next morning, Mrs. Stevens might have been seen directing her steps to the house of Mrs. Kinney, with whom she was very intimate. She reached it just as that lady was departing to preside at a meeting of a female missionary society for evangelizing the Patagonians.

"I suppose you have come to accompany me to the meeting," said she to Mrs. Stevens, as soon as they had exchanged the usual courtesies.

"Oh, dear, no; I wish I was," she replied. "I've got a troublesome little matter on my hands; and last night my husband suggested my coming to ask your advice respecting it. George has such a high opinion of your judgment, that he would insist on my troubling you."

Mrs. Kinney smiled, and looked gratified at this tribute to her importance.

"And moreover," continued Mrs. Stevens, "it's a matter in which your interest, as well as our own, is concerned."

Mrs. Kinney now began to look quite interested, and, untying the strings of her bonnet, exclaimed, "Dear me, what can it be?"

"Knowing," said Mrs. Stevens, "that you entertain just the same sentiments that we do relative to associating with coloured people, I thought I would call and ask if you were aware that Miss Jordan receives coloured as well as white children in her school."

"Why, no! My dear Mrs. Stevens, you astound me. I hadn't the remotest idea of such a thing. It is very strange my children never mentioned it."

"Oh, children are so taken up with their play, they forget such things," rejoined Mrs. Stevens. "Now," continued she, "husband said he was quite confident you would not permit your children to continue their attendance after this knowledge came to your ears. We both thought it would be a pity to break up the poor girl's school by withdrawing our children without first ascertaining if she would expel the little darkies. I knew, if I could persuade you to let me use your name as well as ours, and say that you will not permit your children to continue at her school unless she consents to our wishes, she, knowing the influence you possess, would, I am sure, accede to our demands immediately."

"Oh, you are perfectly at liberty to use my name, Mrs. Stevens, and say all that you think necessary to effect your object. But do excuse me for hurrying off," she continued, looking at her watch: "I was to have been at the meeting at ten o'clock, and it is now half-past. I hope you won't fail to call, and let me know how you succeed;" and, with her heart overflowing with tender care for the poor Patagonian, Mrs. Kinney hastily departed.

"That's settled," soliloquized Mrs. Stevens, with an air of intense satisfaction, as she descended the steps—"her four children would make a serious gap in the little school; and now, then," continued she, "for the Roths."

Mrs. Stevens found not the slightest difficulty in persuading Mrs. Roth to allow her name to be used, in connection with Mrs. Kinney's, in the threat to withdraw their children if the little Garies were not immediately expelled. Mrs. Roth swore by Mrs. Kinney, and the mere mention of that lady's name was sufficient to enlist her aid.

Thus armed, Mrs. Stevens lost no time in paying a visit to Miss Jordan's school. As she entered, the busy hum of childish voices was somewhat stilled; and Lizzy Stevens touched little Em, who sat next her, and whispered, "There is my mother."

Mrs. Stevens was welcomed very cordially by Miss Jordan, who offered her the seat of honour beside her.

"Your school seems quite flourishing," she remarked, after looking around the room, "and I really regret being obliged to make a gap in your interesting circle."

"I hope you don't intend to deprive me of your little girl," inquired Miss Jordan; "I should regret to part with her—not only because I am very fond of her, but in consideration of her own interest—she is coming on so rapidly."

"Oh, I haven't the slightest fault to find with her progress. That," said she, "is not the reason. I have another, of much more weight. Of course, every one is at liberty to do as they choose; and we have no right to dictate to you what description of scholars you should receive; but, if they are not such, as we think proper companions for our children, you can't complain if we withdraw them."

"I really do not understand you, Mrs. Stevens," said the teacher, with an astonished look: "I have none here but the children of the most respectable persons—they are all as well behaved as school children generally are."

"I did not allude to behaviour; that, for all that I know to the contrary, is irreproachable; it is not character that is in question, but colour. I don't like my daughter to associate with coloured children."

"Coloured children!" repeated the now thoroughly bewildered teacher—"coloured children! My dear madam," continued she, smiling, "some one has been hoaxing you—I have no coloured pupils—I could not be induced to receive one on any account."

"I am very glad to hear you say so," rejoined Mrs. Stevens, "for that convinces me that my fears were groundless. I was under the impression you had imbibed some of those pestilent abolition sentiments coming into vogue. I see you are not aware of it, but you certainly have two coloured scholars; and there," said she, pointing to Clarence, "is one of them."

Clarence, who, with his head bent over his book, was sitting so near as to overhear a part of this conversation, now looked up, and found the cold, malignant, grey eyes of Mrs. Stevens fastened on him. He looked at her for a moment—then apparently resumed his studies.

The poor boy had, when she entered the room, an instinctive knowledge that her visit boded no good to them. He was beginning to learn the anomalous situation he was to fill in society. He had detested Mrs. Stevens ever since the night she had ejected him so rudely from her house, and since then had learned to some extent what was meant by the term nigger woman.

"You must certainly be misinformed," responded Miss Jordan. "I know their father—he has frequently been here. He is a Southerner, a thorough gentleman in his manners; and, if ever a man was white, I am sure he is."

"Have you seen their mother?" asked Mrs. Stevens, significantly.

"No, I never have," replied Miss Jordan; "she is in poor health; but she must unquestionably be a white woman—a glance at the children ought to convince you of that."

"It might, if I had not seen her, and did not know her to be a coloured woman. You see, my dear Miss Jordan," continued she, in her blandest tone, "I am their next-door neighbour and have seen their mother twenty times and more; she is a coloured woman beyond all doubt."

"I never could have dreamed of such a thing!" exclaimed Miss Jordan, as an anxious look overspread her face; then, after a pause, she continued: "I do not see what I am to do—it is really too unfortunate—I don't know how to act. It seems unjust and unchristian to eject two such children from my school, because their mother has the misfortune to have a few drops of African blood in her veins. I cannot make up my mind to do it. Why, you yourself must admit that they are as white as any children in the room."

"I am willing to acknowledge they are; but they have nigger blood in them, notwithstanding; and they are, therefore, as much niggers as the blackest, and have no more right to associate with white children than if they were black as ink. I have no more liking for white niggers than for black ones."

The teacher was perplexed, and, turning to Mrs. Stevens, said, imploringly: "This matter seems only known to you; let me appeal to your generosity—say nothing more about it. I will try to keep your daughter away from them, if you wish—but pray do not urge me to the performance of an act that I am conscious would be unjust."

Mrs. Stevens's face assumed a severe and disagreeable expression. "I hoped you would look at this matter in a reasonable light, and not compel those who would be your friends to appear in the light of enemies. If this matter was known to me alone, I should remove my daughter and say nothing more about it; but, unfortunately for you, I find that, by some means or other, both Mrs. Kinney and Mrs. Roth have become informed of the circumstance, and are determined to take their children away. I thought I would act a friend's part by you, and try to prevail on you to dismiss these two coloured children at once. I so far relied upon your right judgment as to assure them that you would not hesitate for a moment to comply with their wishes; and I candidly tell you, that it was only by my so doing that they were prevented from keeping their children at home to-day."

Miss Jordan looked aghast at this startling intelligence; if Mrs. Roth and Mrs. Kinney withdrew their patronage and influence, her little school (the sole support of her mother and herself) would be well-nigh broken up.

She buried her face in her hands, and sat in silence for a few seconds; then looking at Mrs. Stevens, with tearful eyes, exclaimed, "God forgive me if it must be so; nothing but the utter ruin that stares me in the face if I refuse induces me to accede to your request."

"I am sorry that you distress yourself so much about it. You know you are your own mistress, and can do as you choose," said Mrs. Stevens; "but if you will be advised by me, you will send them away at once."

"After school I will," hesitatingly replied Miss Jordan.

"I hate to appear so pressing," resumed Mrs. Stevens; "but I feel it my duty to suggest that you had better do it at once, and before the rest of the scholars. I did not wish, to inform you to what extent this thing had gone; but it really has been talked of in many quarters, and it is generally supposed that you are cognisant of the fact that the Garies are coloured; therefore you see the necessity of doing something at once to vindicate yourself from the reproach of abolitionism."

At the pronunciation of this then terrible word in such connection with herself, Miss Jordan turned quite pale, and for a moment struggled to acquire sufficient control of her feelings to enable her to do as Mrs. Stevens suggested; at last, bursting into tears, she said, "Oh, I cannot—will not—do it. I'll dismiss them, but not in that unfeeling manner; that I cannot do."

The children were now entirely neglecting their lessons, and seemed much affected by Miss Jordan's tears, of which they could not understand the cause. She observing this, rang the bell, the usual signal for intermission.

Mrs. Stevens, satisfied with the triumph she had effected, took leave of Miss Jordan, after commending her for the sensible conclusion at which she had arrived, and promising to procure her two more pupils in the room of those she was about to dismiss.

Miss Jordan was a long time writing the note that she intended sending to Mr. Garie; and one of the elder girls returned to the school-room, wondering at the unusually long time that had been given for recreation.

"Tell Clarence and his sister to come here," said she to the girl who had just entered; and whilst they were on their way upstairs, she folded the note, and was directing it when Clarence entered.

"Clarence," said she, in a soft voice, "put on your hat; I have a note of some importance for you to take to your father—your father remember—don't give it to any one else." Taking out her watch, she continued, "It is now so late that you would scarcely get back before the time for dismissal, so you had better take little Emily home with you."

"I hope, ma'am, I haven't done anything wrong?" asked Clarence.

"Oh, no!" quickly replied she; "you're a dear, good boy, and have never given me a moment's pain since you came to the school." And she hurried out into the hall to avoid farther questioning.

She could not restrain the tears as she dressed little Em, whose eyes were large with astonishment at being sent home from school at so early an hour.

"Teacher, is school out?" asked she.

"No, dear, not quite; I wanted to send a note to your pa, and so I have let Clary go home sooner than usual," replied Miss Jordan, kissing her repeatedly, whilst the tears were trickling down her cheek.

"Don't cry, teacher, I love you," said the little blue-eyed angel, whose lip began to quiver in sympathy; "don't cry, I'll come back again to-morrow."

This was too much for the poor teacher, who clasped the child in her arms, and gave way to a burst of uncontrollable sorrow. At last, conquering herself with an effort, she led the children down stairs, kissed them both again, and then opening the door she turned them forth into the street—turned away from her school these two little children, such as God received into his arms and blessed, because they were the children of a "nigger woman."



CHAPTER XVI.

Mr. Stevens makes a Discovery.

"Well, Jule, old Aunt Tabitha is gone at last, and I am not at all sorry for it, I assure you; she's been a complete tax upon me for the last eight years. I suppose you won't lament much, nor yet go into mourning for her," continued Mr. Stevens, looking at her jocularly.

"I'm not sorry, that I admit," rejoined Mrs. Stevens; "the poor old soul is better off, no doubt; but then there's no necessity to speak of the matter in such an off-hand manner."

"Now, Jule, I beg you won't attempt to put on the sanctified; that's too much from you, who have been wishing her dead almost every day for the last eight years. Why, don't you remember you wished her gone when she had a little money to leave; and when she lost that, you wished her off our hands because she had none. Don't pretend to be in the least depressed; that won't do with me."

"Well, never mind that," said Mrs. Stevens, a little confused; "what has become of her things—her clothing, and furniture?"

"I've ordered the furniture to be sold; and all there is of it will not realize sufficient to pay her funeral expenses. Brixton wrote me that she has left a bundle of letters directed to me, and I desired him to send them on."

"I wonder what they can be," said Mrs. Stevens.

"Some trash, I suppose; an early love correspondence, of but little value to any one but herself. I do not expect that they will prove of any consequence whatever."

"Don't you think one or the other of us should go to the funeral?" asked Mrs. Stevens. "Nonsense. No! I have no money to expend in that way—it is as much as I can do to provide comfortably for the living, without spending money to follow the dead," replied he; "and besides, I have a case coming on in the Criminal Court next week that will absorb all my attention."

"What kind of a case is it?" she inquired.

"A murder case. Some Irishmen were engaged in a row, when one of the party received a knock on his head that proved too much for him, and died in consequence. My client was one of the contending parties; and has been suspected, from some imprudent expressions of his, to have been the man who struck the fatal blow. His preliminary examination comes off to-morrow or next day, and I must be present as a matter of course."

At an early hour of the morning succeeding this conversation, Mr. Stevens might have been seen in his dingy office, seated at a rickety desk which was covered with various little bundles, carefully tied with red tape. The room was gloomy and cheerless, and had a mouldy disagreeable atmosphere. A fire burned in the coal stove, which, however, seemed only to warm, but did not dry the apartment; and the windows were covered with a thin coating of vapour.

Mr. Stevens was busily engaged in writing, when hearing footsteps behind him, he turned and saw Mr. Egan, a friend of his client, entering the room.

"Good morning, Mr. Egan," said he, extending his hand; "how is our friend McCloskey this morning?"

"Oh, it's far down in the mouth he is, be jabers—the life a'most scared out of him!"

"Tell him to keep up a good heart and not to be frightened at trifles," laughingly remarked Mr. Stevens.

"Can't your honour come and see him?" asked Egan.

"I can't do that; but I'll give you a note to Constable Berry, and he will bring McCloskey in here as he takes him to court;" and Mr. Stevens immediately wrote the note, which Egan received and departed.

After the lapse of a few hours, McCloskey was brought by the accommodating constable to the office of Mr. Stevens. "He'll be safe with you, I suppose, Stevens;" said the constable, "but then there is no harm in seeing for one's self that all's secure;" and thus speaking, he raised the window and looked into the yard below. The height was too great for his prisoner to escape in that direction; then satisfying himself that the other door only opened into a closet, he retired, locking Mr. Stevens and his client in the room.

Mr. Stevens arose as soon as the door closed behind the constable, and stuffed a piece of damp sponge into the keyhole; he then returned and took a seat by his client.

"Now, McCloskey," said he, in a low tone, as he drew his chair closely in front of the prisoner, and fixed his keen grey eyes on him—"I've seen Whitticar. And I tell you what it is—you're in a very tight place. He's prepared to swear that he saw you with a slung shot in your hand—that he saw you drop it after the man fell; he picked it up, and whilst the man was lying dead at his tavern, awaiting the coroner's inquest, he examined the wound, and saw in the skull two little dents or holes, which were undoubtedly made by the little prongs that are on the leaden ball of the weapon, as they correspond in depth and distance apart; and, moreover, the ball is attached to a twisted brace which proves to be the fellow to the one found upon a pair of your trousers. What can you say to all this?"

McCloskey here gave a smothered groan, and his usually red face grew deadly pale in contemplation of his danger.

"Now," said Mr. Stevens, after waiting long enough for his revelation to have its due effect upon him, "there is but one thing to be done. We must buy Whitticar off. Have you got any money? I don't mean fifty or a hundred dollars—that would be of no more use than as many pennies. We must have something of a lump—three or four hundred at the very least."

The prisoner drew his breath very hard at this, and remained silent.

"Come, speak out," continued Mr. Stevens, "circumstances won't admit of our delaying—this man's friends will raise Heaven and earth to secure your conviction; so you see, my good fellow, it's your money or your life. You can decide between the two—you know which is of the most importance to you."

"God save us, squire! how am I to raise that much money? I haven't more nor a hunther dollars in the world."

"You've got a house, and a good horse and dray," replied Mr. Stevens, who was well posted in the man's pecuniary resources. "If you expect me to get you out of this scrape, you must sell or mortgage your house, and dispose of your horse and dray. Somehow or other four hundred dollars must be raised, or you will be dangling at a rope's end in less than six months."

"I suppose it will have to go then," said McCloskey, reluctantly.

"Then give me authority," continued Mr. Stevens, "to arrange for the disposal of the property, and I will have your affairs all set straight in less than no time."

The constable here cut short any further colloquy by rapping impatiently on the door, then opening it, and exclaiming, "Come, now it is ten o'clock—time that you were in court;" and the two started out, followed by Mr. Stevens.

After having, by some of those mysterious plans with which lawyers are familiar, been enabled to put off the examination for a few days, Mr. Stephens returned to his office, and found lying upon his table the packet of letters he was expecting from New York.

Upon breaking the seal, and tearing off the outer covering, he discovered a number of letters, time-worn and yellow with age; they were tied tightly together with a piece of cord; cutting this, they fell scattered over the desk.

Taking one of them up, he examined it attentively, turning it from side to side to endeavour to decipher the half-effaced post-mark. "What a ninny I am, to waste time in looking at the cover of this, when the contents will, no doubt, explain the whole matter?" Thus soliloquising he opened the letter, and was soon deeply absorbed in its contents. He perused and re-perused it; then opened, one after another, the remainder that lay scattered before him. Their contents seemed to agitate him exceedingly; as he walked up and down the room with hasty strides, muttering angrily to himself, and occasionally returning to the desk to re-peruse the letters which had so strangely excited him.

Whilst thus engaged, the door was opened by no less a personage than Mr. Morton, who walked in and seated himself in a familiar manner.

"Oh, how are you, Morton. You entered with such a ghostly tread, that I scarcely heard you," said Mr. Stevens, with a start; "what has procured me the honour of a visit from you this morning?"

"I was strolling by, and thought I would just step in and inquire how that matter respecting the Tenth-street property has succeeded."

"Not at all—the old fellow is as obstinate as a mule; he won't sell except on his own terms, which are entirely out of all reason. I am afraid you will be compelled to abandon your building speculation in that quarter until his demise—he is old and feeble, and can't last many years; in the event of his death you may be able to effect some more favourable arrangement with his heirs."

"And perhaps have ten or fifteen years to wait—no, that won't do. I'd better sell out myself. What would you, advise me to do, Stevens?"

Mr. Stevens was silent for a few moments; then having opened the door and looked into the entry, he closed it carefully, placed the piece of sponge in the key-hole, and returned to his seat at the desk, saying:—

"We've transacted enough business together to know one another pretty well. So I've no hesitation in confiding to you a little scheme I've conceived for getting into our hands a large proportion of property in one of the lower districts, at a very low figure; and 'tis probable, that the same plan, if it answers, will assist you materially in carrying out your designs. It will require the aid of two or three moneyed men like yourself; and, if successful, will without doubt be highly remunerative."

"If successful," rejoined Mr. Morton; "yes, there is the rub. How are you to guarantee success?"

"Hear my plan, and then you can decide. In the first place, you know as well as I that a very strong feeling exists in the community against the Abolitionists, and very properly too; this feeling requires to be guided into some proper current, and I think we can give it that necessary guidance, and at the same time render it subservient to our own purposes. You are probably aware that a large amount of property in the lower part of the city is owned by niggers; and if we can create a mob and direct it against them, they will be glad to leave that quarter, and remove further up into the city for security and protection. Once get the mob thoroughly aroused, and have the leaders under our control, and we may direct its energies against any parties we desire; and we can render the district so unsafe, that property will be greatly lessened in value—the houses will rent poorly, and many proprietors will be happy to sell at very reduced prices. If you can furnish me the means to start with, I have men enough at my command to effect the rest. We will so control the elections in the district, through these men, as to place in office only such persons as will wink at the disturbances. When, through their agency, we have brought property down sufficiently low, we will purchase all that we can, re-establish order and quiet, and sell again at an immense advantage."

"Your scheme is a good one, I must confess, and I am ready to join you at any time. I will communicate with Carson, who, I think, will be interested, as he desired to invest with me in those Tenth-street improvements. I will call in to-morrow, and endeavour to persuade him to accompany me, and then we can discuss the matter more fully."

"Well, do; but one word before you go. You appear to know everybody—who is anybody—south of Mason and Dixon's line; can you give me any information respecting a family by the name of Garie, who live or formerly did live in the vicinity of Savannah?"

"Oh, yes—I know them, root and branch; although there is but little of the latter left; they are one of the oldest families in Georgia—those of whom I have heard the most are of the last two generations. There now remain of the family but two persons—old John or Jack Garie as he is called, a bachelor—and who I have recently learned is at the point of death; and a crack-brained nephew of his, living in this city—said to be married to a nigger woman—actually married to her. Dr. Blackly informed me last week, that he sent for him to perform the ceremony, which he very properly refused to do. I have no doubt, however, that he has been successful in procuring the services of some one else. I am sorry to say, there are some clergymen in our city who would willingly assist in such a disgraceful proceeding. What ever could have induced a man with his prospects to throw himself away in that manner, I am at loss to determine—he has an independent fortune of about one hundred thousand dollars, besides expectations from his uncle, who is worth a considerable sum of money. I suppose these little darkies of his will inherit it," concluded Mr. Morton.

"Are there no other heirs?" asked Mr. Stevens, in a tone of deep interest.

"There may be. He had an aunt, who married an exceedingly low fellow from the North, who treated her shamefully. The mercenary scoundrel no doubt expected to have acquired a fortune with her, as it was generally understood that she was sole heiress of her mother's property—but it turned out to be an entire mistake. The circumstance made considerable stir at the time. I remember having heard my elders discuss it some years after its occurrence. But why do you take such an interest in it? You charged me with coming upon you like a ghost. I could return the compliment. Why, man, you look like a sheet. What ails you?" "Me!—I—oh, nothing—nothing! I'm perfectly well—that is to say, I was up rather late last night, and am rather fatigued to day—nothing more."

"You looked so strange, that I could not help being frightened—and you seemed so interested. You must have some personal motive for inquiring."

"No more than a lawyer often has in the business of his clients. I have been commissioned to obtain some information respecting these people—a mere matter of business, nothing more, believe me. Call in again soon, and endeavour to bring Carson; but pray be discreet—be very careful to whom you mention the matter."

"Never fear," said Mr. Morton, as he closed the door behind him, and sauntered lazily out of the house.

Mr. Morton speculated in stocks and town-lots in the same spirit that he had formerly betted at the racecourse and cockpit in his dear Palmetto State. It was a pleasant sort of excitement to him, and without excitement of some kind, he would have found it impossible to exist. To have frequented gaming hells and race courses in the North would have greatly impaired his social position; and as he set a high value upon that he was compelled to forego his favourite pursuits, and associate himself with a set of men who conducted a system of gambling operations upon 'Change, of a less questionable but equally exciting character.

Mr. Stevens sat musing at his desk for some time after the departure of his visitor; then, taking up one of the letters that had so strongly excited him, he read and re-read it; then crushing it in his hand, arose, stamped his feet, and exclaimed, "I'll have it! if I—" here he stopped short, and, looking round, caught a view of his face in the glass; he sank back into the chair behind him, horrified at the lividness of his countenance.

"Good God!" he soliloquized, "I look like a murderer already," and he covered his face with his hands, and turned away from the glass. "But I am wrong to be excited thus; men who accomplish great things approach them coolly, so must I. I must plot, watch, and wait;" and thus speaking, he put on his hat and left the office.

As Mr. Stevens approached his house, a handsome carriage drove up to the door of his neighbour, and Mr. Garie and his wife, who had been enjoying a drive along the bank of the river, alighted and entered their residence. The rustle of her rich silk dress grated harshly on his ear, and the soft perfume that wafted toward him as she glided by, was the very reverse of pleasant to him.

Mr. Garie bowed stiffly to him as they stood on the steps of their respective residences, which were only divided by the low iron fence; but, beyond the slight inclination of the head, took no further notice of him.

"The cursed haughty brute," muttered Mr. Stevens, as he jerked the bell with violence; "how I hate him! I hated him before I knew—but now I——;" as he spoke, the door was opened by a little servant that Mrs. Stevens had recently obtained from a charity institution.

"You've kept me standing a pretty time," exclaimed he savagely, as he seized her ear and gave it a spiteful twist; "can't you manage to open the door quicker?"

"I was up in the garret, and didn't hear the bell," she replied, timidly.

"Then I'll improve your hearing," he continued malignantly, as he pulled her by the ear; "take that, now, and see if you'll keep me standing at the door an hour again."

Striding forward into the back parlour, he found his wife holding a small rattan elevated over little Lizzy in a threatening attitude.

"Will you never mind me? I've told you again and again not to go, and still you persist in disobeying me. I'll cut you to pieces if you don't mind. Will you ever go again?" she almost screamed in the ears of the terrified child.

"Oh, no, mother, never; please don't whip me, I'll mind you;" and as she spoke, she shrank as far as possible into the corner of the room. "What's all this—what's the matter, Jule? What on earth are you going to whip Liz for?"

"Because she deserves it," was the sharp reply; "she don't mind a word I say. I've forbid her again and again to go next door to visit those little niggers, and she will do it in spite of me. She slipped off this afternoon, and has been in their house over an hour; and it was only this morning I detected her kissing their Clarence through the fence."

"Faugh," said Mr. Stevens, with a look of disgust; "you kissed a nigger! I'm ashamed of you, you nasty little thing; your mother ought to have taken a scrubbing-brush and cleaned your mouth, never do such a thing again; come here to me."

As he spoke, he extended his hand and grasped the delicately rounded arm of his little girl.

"What induces you to go amongst those people; hasn't your mother again and again forbidden you to do so. Why do you go, I say?" he continued, shaking her roughly by the arm, and frowning savagely. "Why don't you answer?—speak!"

The child, with the tears streaming down her lovely face, was only able to answer in her defence. "Oh, pa, I do love them so."

"You do, do you?" replied her exasperated father, stamping his foot, and pushing her from him; "go to bed, and if ever I hear of you going there again, you shall be well whipped." The tearful face lingered about the door in hope of a reprieve that did not come, and then disappeared for the night.

"The children must not be suffered to go in there, Jule; something I've learned to-day will——" here Mr. Stevens checked himself; and in answer to his wife's impatient "What have you learned?" replied, "Oh, nothing of consequence—nothing that will interest you," and sat with his slipper in his hand, engaged in deep thought.

Now for Mr. Stevens to commence a communication to his wife, and then break off in the middle of it, was as novel as disagreeable, as he was generally very communicative, and would detail to her in the evening, with pleasing minuteness, all the rogueries he had accomplished during the day; and his unwillingness to confide something that evidently occupied his mind caused his spouse to be greatly irritated.

Mr. Stevens drank his tea in silence, and during the evening continued absorbed in reflection; and, notwithstanding the various ill-natured remarks of his wife upon his strange conduct retired without giving her the slightest clue to its cause.



CHAPTER XVII.

Plotting.

Mr. Stevens awoke at a very early hour the ensuing morning, and quite unceremoniously shook his wife to arouse her also. This he accomplished after considerable labour; for Mrs. Stevens was much more sleepy than usual, in consequence of her husband's restlessness the previous night.

"I declare," said she, rubbing her eyes, "I don't get any peace of my life. You lie awake, kicking about, half the night, muttering and whispering about no one knows what, and then want me to rise before day. What are you in such, a hurry for this morning,—no more mysteries, I hope?"

"Oh, come, Jule, get up!" said her husband, impatiently. "I must be off to my business very early; I am overburthened with different things this morning."

Mrs. Stevens made a very hasty toilette, and descended to the kitchen, where the little charity-girl was bustling about with her eyes only half open. With her assistance, the breakfast was soon prepared, and Mr. Stevens called downstairs. He ate rapidly and silently, and at the conclusion of his meal, put on his hat, and wished his amiable spouse an abrupt good morning.

After leaving his house, he did not take the usual course to his office, but turned his steps toward the lower part of the city. Hastening onward, he soon left the improved parts of it in his rear, and entered upon a shabby district.

The morning was very chilly, and as it was yet quite early, but few people were stirring: they were labourers hurrying to their work, milkmen, and trundlers of breadcarts.

At length he stopped at the door of a tavern, over which was a large sign, bearing the name of Whitticar. On entering, he found two or three forlorn-looking wretches clustering round the stove, endeavouring to receive some warmth upon their half-clothed bodies,—their red and pimpled noses being the only parts about them that did not look cold. They stared wonderingly at Mr. Stevens as he entered; for a person so respectable as himself in appearance was but seldom seen in that house.

The boy who attended the bar inquired from behind the counter what he would take.

"Mr. Whitticar, if you please," blandly replied Mr. Stevens.

Hearing this, the boy bolted from the shop, and quite alarmed the family, by stating that there was a man in the shop, who said he wanted to take Mr. Whitticar, and he suspected that he was a policeman.

Whitticar, who was seldom entirely free from some scrape, went through another door to take a survey of the new comer, and on ascertaining who it was, entered the room.

"You've quite upset the family; we all took you for a constable," said he, approaching Mr. Stevens, who shook hands with him heartily, and then, laying his arm familiarly on his shoulder, rejoined,—

"I say, Whitticar, I want about five minutes' conversation with you. Haven't you some room where we can be quite private for a little while?"

"Yes; come this way," replied he. And, leading his visitor through the bar, they entered a small back room, the door of which they locked behind them.

"Now, Whitticar," said Mr. Stevens, "I want you to act the part of a friend by the fellow who got in that awkward scrape at this house. As you did not give the evidence you informed me you were possessed of, at the coroner's inquest, it is unnecessary for you to do so before the magistrate at examination. There is no use in hanging the fellow—it cannot result in any benefit to yourself; it will only attract disagreeable notice to your establishment, and possibly may occasion a loss of your licence. We will be willing to make it worth your while to absent yourself, for a short time at least, until the trial is over; it will put money in your purse, and save this poor devil's life besides. What do you say to receiving a hundred and fifty, and going off for a month or two?"

"Couldn't think of it, Mr. Stevens, no how. See how my business would suffer; everything would be at loose ends. I should be obliged to hire a man to take my place; and, in that case, I must calculate upon his stealing at least twenty-five per cent. of the receipts: and then there is his wages. No, no that won't do. Besides, I'm trying to obtain the nomination for the office of alderman—to secure it, I must be on the spot; nothing like looking out for oneself. I am afraid I can't accommodate you, squire, unless you can offer something better than one hundred and fifty."

"You've got no conscience," rejoined Mr. Stevens, "not a bit."

"Well, the less of that the better for me; it's a thing of very little use in the rum-selling business; it interferes with trade—so I can't afford to keep a conscience. If you really want me to go, make me a better offer; say two fifty, and I'll begin to think of it. The trial will be over in a month or six weeks, I suppose, and a spree of that length would be very pleasant."

"No, I won't do that, Whitticar,—that's flat; but I'll tell you what I will do. I'll make it two hundred, and what is more, I'll see to your nomination. I'm all right down here, you know; I own the boys in this district; and if you'll say you'll put some little matters through for me after you are elected, I'll call it a bargain."

"Then I'm your man," said Whitticar, extending his hand.

"Well, then," added Stevens, "come to my office this morning, and you shall have the money; after that I shall expect you to get out of town as quick as possible. Goodbye."

"So far all right," muttered Mr. Stevens, with an air of intense satisfaction, as he left the house; "he'll be of great use to me. When it becomes necessary to blind the public by a sham investigation, he will be the man to conduct it; when I want a man released from prison, or a little job of that kind done, he will do it—this act will put him in my power; and I am much mistaken if he won't prove of the utmost service in our riot scheme. Now, then, we will have an examination of McCloskey as soon as they like."

A few weeks subsequent to the events we have just written, we find Mr. Stevens seated in his dingy office in company with the McCloskey, who had recently been discharged from custody in default of sufficient evidence being found to warrant his committal for trial. He was sitting with his feet upon the stove, and was smoking a cigar in the most free-and-easy manner imaginable.

"So far, so good," said Mr. Stevens, as he laid down the letter he was perusing; "that simplifies the matter greatly; and whatever is to be done towards his removal, must be done quickly—now that the old man is dead there is but one to deal with."

During the interval that had elapsed between the interview of Mr. Stevens with Whitticar and the period to which we now refer, Mr. Stevens had been actively engaged in promoting his riot scheme; and already several disturbances had occurred, in which a number of inoffensive coloured people had been injured in their persons and property.

But this was only a faint indication of what was to follow; and as he had, through the agency of Mr. Morton and others, been able to prevent any but the most garbled statements of these affairs from getting abroad, there was but little danger of their operations being interfered with. Leading articles daily appeared in the public journals (particularly those that circulated amongst the lowest classes), in which the negroes were denounced, in the strongest terms. It was averred that their insolence, since the commencement of the abolition agitation, had become unbearable; and from many quarters was suggested the absolute necessity for inflicting some general chastisement, to convince them that they were still negroes, and to teach them to remain in their proper place in the body politic.

Many of these articles were written by Mr. Stevens, and their insertion as editorials procured through the instrumentality of Mr. Morton and his friends.

Mr. Stevens turned to his visitor, and inquired, "What was done last night—much of anything?"

"A great deal, yer honour," replied McCloskey; "a nagur or two half killed, and one house set on fire and nearly burned up."

"Is that all?" said Mr. Stevens, with a well-assumed look of disappointment. "Is that all? Why, you are a miserable set: you should have beaten every darky out of the district by this time."

"They're not so aisily bate out—they fight like sevin divils. One o' 'em, night before last, split Mikey Dolan's head clane open, and it's a small chance of his life he's got to comfort himself wid."

"Chances of war—chances of war!" rejoined Mr. Stevens,—"mere trifles when you get used to 'em: you mustn't let that stop you—you have a great deal yet to do. What you have already accomplished is a very small matter compared with what is expected, and what I intend you to do: your work has only just begun, man."

"Jist begun!" replied the astonished McCloskey; "haven't we bin raising the very divil every night for the last week—running a near chance of being kilt all the time—and all for nothing! It's gettin' tiresome; one don't like to be fighting the nagurs all the time for the mere fun of the thing—it don't pay, for divil a cent have I got for all my trouble; and ye said ye would pay well, ye remimber."

"So I shall," said Mr. Stevens, "when you do something worth paying for—the quarter is not accomplished yet. I want the place made so hot down there that the niggers can't stay. Go a-head, don't give them any rest—I'll protect you from the consequences, whatever they be: I've great things in store for you," continued he, moving nearer and speaking in a confidential tone; "how should you like to return to Ireland a moneyed man?"

"I should like it well enough, to be sure; but where's the money to come from, squire?"

"Oh, there's money enough to be had if you have the courage to earn it."

"I'm willin' enough to earn an honest penny, but I don't like risking me neck for it, squire. It's clear ye'll not be afther givin' me a dale of money widout being sure of havin' the worth of it out o' me; and it's dirty work enough I've done, widout the doin' of any more: me conscience is a sore throuble to me about the other job. Be the powers I'm out o' that, and divil a like scrape will I get in agin wid my own consint."

"Your conscience has become troublesome very suddenly," rejoined Mr. Stevens, with a look of angry scorn; "it's strange it don't appear to have troubled you in the least during the last few weeks, whilst you have been knocking niggers on the head so freely."

"Well, I'm tired o' that work," interrupted McCloskey; "and what's more, I'll soon be lavin' of it off."

"We'll see about that," said Mr. Stevens. "You're a pretty fellow, now, ain't you—grateful, too—very! Here I've been successful in getting you out of a hanging scrape, and require a trifling service in return, and you retire. You'll find this trifling won't do with me," continued Mr. Stevens, with great sternness of manner. "You shall do as I wish: you are in my power! I need your services, and I will have them—make up your mind to that."

McCloskey was somewhat staggered at this bold declaration from Mr. Stevens; but he soon assumed his former assured manner, and replied, "I'd like to know how I'm in your power: as far as this riot business is concerned, you're as deep in the mud as I'm in the mire; as for the other, be St. Patrick, I'm clane out o' that!—they don't try a man twice for the same thing." "Don't halloo so loud, my fine fellow," sneeringly rejoined Mr. Stevens, "you are not entirely out of the wood yet; you are by no means as safe as you imagine—you haven't been tried yet, you have only been examined before a magistrate! They lacked sufficient evidence to commit you for trial—that evidence I can produce at any time; so remember, if you please, you have not been tried yet: when you have been, and acquitted, be kind enough to let me know, will you?"

Mr. Stevens stood for a few moments silently regarding the change his language had brought over the now crestfallen McCloskey; he then continued—"Don't think you can escape me—I'll have a thousand eyes upon you; no one ever escapes me that I wish to retain. Do as I require, and I'll promote your interest in every possible way, and protect you; but waver, or hold back, and I'll hang you as unhesitatingly as if you were a dog."

This threat was given in a tone that left no doubt on the mind of the hearer but that Mr. Stevens would carry out his expressed intention; and the reflections thereby engendered by no means added to the comfort or sense of security that McCloskey had flattered himself he was in future to enjoy; he, therefore, began to discover the bad policy of offending one who might prove so formidable an enemy—of incensing one who had it in his power to retaliate by such terrible measures.

He therefore turned to Mr. Stevens, with a somewhat humbled manner, and said: "You needn't get so mad, squire—sure it's but natural that a man shouldn't want to get any deeper in the mire than he can help; and I've enough on my hands now to make them too red to look at wid comfort—sure it's not a shade deeper you'd have 'em?" he asked, looking inquiringly at Mr. Stevens, who was compelled to turn away his face for a moment to hide his agitation.

At last he mastered his countenance, and, in as cool a tone as he could assume, replied: "Oh, a little more on them will be scarcely a perceptible addition. You know the old adage, 'In for a penny, in for a pound.' You need have no fear," said he, lowering his voice almost to a whisper; "it can be done in a crowd—and at night—no one will notice it."

"I don't know about that, squire—in a crowd some one will be sure to notice it. It's, too dangerous—I can't do it."

"Tut, tut, man; don't talk like a fool. I tell you there is no danger. You, in company with a mob of others, are to attack this man's house. When he makes his appearance, as he will be sure to do, shoot him down."

"Good God! squire," said McCloskey, his face growing pale at the prospect of what was required of him, "you talk of murder as if it was mere play!"

"And still, I never murdered any one," rejoined Mr. Stevens, significantly; "come, come—put your scruples in your pocket, and make up your mind to go through with it like a man. When the thing is done, you shall have five thousand dollars in hard cash, and you can go with it where you please. Now, what do you think of that?"

"Ah, squire, the money's a great timptation! but it's an awful job."

"No worse than you did for nothing," replied Mr. Stevens.

"But that was in a fair fight, and in hot blood; it isn't like planning to kill a man, squire."

"Do you call it a fair fight when you steal up behind a man, and break his skull with a slung shot?" asked Mr. Stevens.

McCloskey was unable to answer this, and sat moodily regarding his tempter.

"Come, make up your mind to it—you might as well," resumed Mr. Stevens, in a coaxing tone.

"Ye seem bent on not giving it up, and I suppose I'll have to do it," replied McCloskey, reluctantly; "but what has the man done to ye's, squire, that you're so down upon him?"

"Oh, he is one of those infernal Abolitionists, and one of the very worst kind; he lives with a nigger woman—and, what is more, he is married to her!"

"Married to a nigger!" exclaimed McCloskey—"it's a quare taste the animal has—but you're not afther killing him for that; there's something more behind: it's not for having a black wife instead of a white one you'd be afther murthering him—ye'll get no stuff like that down me."

"No, it is not for that alone, I acknowledge," rejoined Mr. Stevens, with considerable embarrassment. "He insulted me some time ago, and I want to be revenged upon him."

"It's a dear job to insult you, at that rate, squire; but where does he live?"

"In my neighbourhood—in fact, next door to me," replied Mr. Stevens, with an averted face.

"Howly Mother! not away up there—sure it's crazy ye are. What, away up there in the city limits!—why, they would have the police and the sogers at our heels in less than no time. Sure, you're out o' your sinses, to have me go up there with a mob. No, no—there's too much risk—I can't try that."

"I tell you there shall be no risk," impatiently replied Mr. Stevens. "It's not to be done to-night, nor to-morrow night; and, when I say do it, you shall do it, and as safely there as anywhere. Only come to the conclusion that a thing must be done, and it is half finished already. You have only to make up your mind that you will accomplish a design in spite of obstacles, and what you once thought to be insurmountable difficulties will prove mere straws in your path. But we are wasting time; I've determined you shall do it, and I hope you now know me well enough to be convinced that it is your best policy to be as obliging as possible. You had better go now, and be prepared to meet me to-night at Whitticar's."

After the door closed upon the retreating form of McCloskey, the careless expression that Mr. Stevens's countenance had worn during the conversation, gave place to one full of anxiety and apprehension, and he shuddered as he contemplated the fearful length to which he was proceeding.

"If I fail," said he—"pshaw! I'll not fail—I must not fail—for failure is worse than ruin; but cool—cool," he continued, sitting down to his desk—"those who work nervously do nothing right." He sat writing uninterruptedly until quite late in the afternoon, when the fading sunlight compelled him to relinquish his pen, and prepare for home.

Thrusting the papers into his pocket, he hurried toward the newspaper office from which were to emanate, as editorials, the carefully concocted appeals to the passions of the rabble which he had been all the afternoon so busily engaged in preparing.



CHAPTER XVIII.

Mr. Stevens falls into Bad Hands.

The amiable partner of Mr. Stevens sat in high dudgeon, at being so long restrained from her favourite beverage by the unusually deferred absence of her husband. At length she was rejoiced by hearing his well-known step as he came through the garden, and the rattle of his latch-key as he opened the door was quite musical in her ears.

"I thought you was never coming," said she, querulously, as he entered the room; "I have been waiting tea until I am almost starved."

"You needn't have waited a moment, for you will be obliged to eat alone after all; I'm going out. Pour me out a cup of tea—I'll drink it whilst I'm dressing; and," continued Mr. Stevens, "I want you to get me that old brown over-coat and those striped trowsers I used to wear occasionally."

"Why, you told me," rejoined Mrs. Stevens, "that you did not require them again, and so I exchanged them for this pair of vases to-day."

"The devil you did!" said Mr. Stevens, angrily; "you let them lie about the house for nearly a year—and now, just as they were likely to be of some service to me, you've sold them. It's just like you—always doing something at the wrong time."

"How on earth, Stevens, was I to know you wanted them?"

"Well, there, Jule, they're gone; don't let's have any more talk about it. Get me another cup of tea; I must go out immediately." After hastily swallowing the second cup, Mr. Stevens left his home, and walked to an omnibus-station, from whence he was quickly transported to a street in the lower part of the city, in which were a number of second-hand clothing stores. These places were supported principally by the country people who attended the market in the same street, and who fancied that the clothing they purchased at these shops must be cheap, because it was at second-hand.

Mr. Stevens stopped at the door of one of these establishments, and paused to take a slight survey of the premises before entering. The doorway was hung with coats of every fashion of the last twenty years, and all in various stages of decay. Some of them looked quite respectable, from much cleaning and patching; and others presented a reckless and forlorn aspect, as their worn and ragged sleeves swung about in the evening air. Old hats, some of which were, in all probability, worn at a period anterior to the Revolution, kept company with the well-blacked shoes that were ranged on shelves beside the doorway, where they served in the capacity of signs, and fairly indicated the style of goods to be purchased within.

Seeing that there were no buyers in the store, Mr. Stevens opened the door, and entered. The sounds of his footsteps drew from behind the counter no less a personage than our redoubtable friend Kinch, who, in the absence of his father, was presiding over the establishment.

"Well, Snowball," said Mr. Stevens, "do you keep this curiosity-shop?"

"My name is not Snowball, and this ain't a curiosity-shop," replied Kinch. "Do you want to buy anything?"

"I believe I do," answered Mr. Stevens. "Let me look at some coats—one that I can get on—I won't say fit me, I'm indifferent about that—let me see some of the worst you've got."

Kinch looked surprised at this request from a gentleman of Mr. Stevens's appearance, and handed out, quite mechanically, a coat that was but slightly worn. "Oh, that won't do—I want something like this," said Mr. Stevens, taking down from a peg a very dilapidated coat, of drab colour, and peculiar cut. What do you ask for this?"

"That's not fit for, a gentleman like you, sir," said Kinch.

"I'm the best judge of that matter," rejoined Mr. Stevens. "What is the price of it?"

"Oh, that coat you can have for a dollar," replied Kinch.

"Then I'll take it. Now hand out some trowsers."

The trowsers were brought; and from a large number Mr. Stevens selected a pair that suited him. Then adding an old hat to his list of purchases, he declared his fit-out complete.

"Can't you accommodate me with some place where I can put these on?" he asked of Kinch; "I'm going to have a little sport with some friends of mine, and I want to wear them."

Kinch led the way into a back room, where he assisted Mr. Stevens to array himself in his newly-purchased garments. By the change in his attire he seemed completely robbed of all appearance of respectability; the most disagreeable points of his physique seemed to be brought more prominently forward by the habiliments he had assumed, they being quite in harmony with his villanous countenance.

Kinch, who looked at him with wonder, was forced to remark, "Why, you don't look a bit like a gentleman now, sir."

Mr. Stevens stepped forward, and surveyed himself in the looking-glass. The transformation was complete—surprising even to himself. "I never knew before," said he, mentally, "how far a suit of clothes goes towards giving one the appearance of a gentleman."

He now emptied the pockets of the suit he had on;—in so doing, he dropped upon the floor, without observing it, one of the papers.

"Fold these up," said he, handing to Kinch the suit he had just taken off, "and to-morrow bring them to this address." As he spoke, he laid his card upon the counter, and, after paying for his new purchases, walked out of the shop, and bent his steps in the direction of Whitticar's tavern.

On arriving there, he found the bar-room crowded with half-drunken men, the majority of whom were Irishmen, armed with bludgeons of all sizes and shapes. His appearance amongst them excited but little attention, and he remained there some time before he was recognized by the master of the establishment.

"By the howly St. Patherick I didn't know you, squire; what have you been doing to yourself?"

"Hist!" cried Mr. Stevens, putting his fingers to his lips; "I thought it was best to see how matters were progressing, so I've run down for a little while. How are you getting on?"

"Fine, fine, squire," replied Whitticar; "the boys are ripe for anything. They talk of burning down a nigger church."

"Not to-night—they must not do such a thing to-night—we are not ready for that yet. I've made out a little list—some of the places on it they might have a dash at to-night, just to keep their hands in." As Mr. Stevens spoke, he fumbled in his pocket for the list in question, and was quite surprised to be unable to discover it.

"Can't you find it, squire?" asked Whitticar.

"I must have lost; it on the way," replied Mr. Stevens. "I am sure I put it in this pocket," and he made another search. "No use—I'll have to give it up," said he, at length; "but where is McCloskey? I haven't seen him since I came in."

"He came here this afternoon, very far gone; he had been crooking his elbow pretty frequently, and was so very drunk that I advised him to go home and go to bed; so he took another dram and went away, and I haven't seen him since."

"That's bad, very bad—everything goes wrong this evening—I wanted him to-night particularly." "Wouldn't the boys go out with you?" suggested Whitticar.

"No, no; that wouldn't do at all. I mustn't appear in these things. If I'm hauled up for participation, who is to be your lawyer—eh?"

"True for you," rejoined Whitticar; "and I'll just disperse the crowd as soon as I can, and there will be one peaceable night in the district at any rate."

Not liking to give directions to the mob personally, and his useful coadjutor McCloskey not being at hand, Mr. Stevens came to the conclusion he would return to his home, and on the next evening a descent should be made upon the places marked on the list.

Taking out his watch, he found it would be too late to return to the store where he had purchased his present adornments, so he determined to start for home.

The coat that temporarily adorned the person of Mr. Stevens was of peculiar cut and colour—it was, in fact, rather in the rowdy style, and had, in its pristine state, bedecked the person of a member of a notorious fire company. These gentry had for a long time been the terror of the district in which they roamed, and had rendered themselves highly obnoxious to some of the rival factions on the borders of their own territory; they had the unpleasant habit of pitching into and maltreating, without the slightest provocation, any one whom their practised eyes discovered to be a rival; and by such outrages they had excited in the bosoms of their victims a desire for revenge that only awaited the occasion to manifest itself.

Mr. Stevens, in happy unconsciousness, that, owing to his habiliments, he represented one of the well-known and hated faction, walked on quite leisurely; but, unfortunately for him, his way home lay directly through the camp of their bitterest and most active enemies.

Standing in front of a tavern-window, through which a bright light shone, were a group of young men, who bestowed upon Mr. Stevens more than passing attention. "I'm blest," exclaimed one of them, if there ain't a ranger! now that it a saucy piece of business, ain't it! That fellow has come up here to be able to go back and play brag-game."

"Let's wallop him, then," suggested another, "and teach him better than to come parading himself in our parts. I owe 'em something for the way they served me when I was down in their district."

"Well, come on," said the first speaker, "or he will get away whilst we are jawing about what we shall do."

Advancing to Mr. Stevens, he tapped that gentleman on the shoulder, and said, with mock civility, and in as bland a tone as he could assume, "It's really very obliging of you, mister, to come up here to be flogged—saves us the trouble of coming down to you. We would like to settle with you for that drubbing you gave one of our boys last week."

"You must be mistaken," replied Mr. Stevens: "I don't know anything of the affair to which you allude."

"You don't, eh! Well, take that, then, to freshen your memory," exclaimed one of the party, at the same time dealing him a heavy blow on the cheek, which made the lamplights around appear to dance about in the most fantastic style.

The first impulse of Mr. Stevens was to cry out for the watchman; but a moment's reflection suggested the impolicy of that project, as he would inevitably be arrested with the rest; and to be brought before a magistrate in his present guise, would have entailed upon him very embarrassing explanations; he therefore thought it best to beg off—to throw himself, as it were, upon their sympathies.

"Stop, gentlemen—stop—for God's sake, stop," he cried, as soon as he could regain the breath that had been almost knocked out of him by the tremendous blow he had just received—"don't kill an innocent man; upon my honour I never saw you before, nor ever assaulted any of you in my life. My dear friends," he continued, in a dolorous tone, "please let me go—you are quite mistaken: I assure you I am not the man." "No, we ain't mistaken, either: you're one of the rangers; I know you by your coat," replied one of the assaulters.

It now flashed upon Mr. Stevens that he had brought himself into these difficulties, by the assumption of the dress he then wore; he therefore quickly rejoined—"Oh, it is not my coat—I only put it on for a joke!"

"That's a likely tale," responded one of the party, who looked very incredulous; "I don't believe a word of it. That's some darned stuff you've trumped up, thinking to gammon us—it won't go down; we'll just give you a walloping, if it's only to teach you to wear your own clothes,"—and suiting the action to the word, he commenced pommelling him unmercifully.

"Help! help!" screamed Mr. Stevens. "Don't kill me, gentlemen,—don't kill me!"

"Oh! we won't kill you—we'll only come as near it as we can, without quite finishing you," cried one of his relentless tormenters.

On hearing this, their victim made a frantic effort to break away, and not succeeding in it, he commenced yelling at the top of his voice. As is usual in such cases, the watchman was nowhere to be seen; and his cries only exasperated his persecutors the more.

"Hit him in the bread-crusher, and stop his noise," suggested one of the party farthest off from Mr. Stevens. This piece of advice was carried into immediate effect, and the unfortunate wearer of the obnoxious coat received a heavy blow in the mouth, which cut his lips and knocked out one of his front teeth.

His cries now became so loud as to render it necessary to gag him, which was done by one of the party in the most thorough and expeditious manner. They then dragged him into a wheelwright's shop near by, where they obtained some tar, with which they coated his face completely.

"Oh! don't he look like a nigger!" said one of the party, when they had finished embellishing their victim.

"Rub some on his hands, and then let him go," suggested another. "When he gets home I guess he'll surprise his mammy: I don't believe his own dog will know him!"

A shout of laughter followed this remark, in the midst of which they ungagged Mr. Stevens and turned him from the door.

"Now run for it—cut the quickest kind of time," exclaimed one of them, as he gave him a kick to add impetus to his forward movement.

This aid was, however, entirely unnecessary, for Mr. Stevens shot away from the premises like an arrow from a bow; and that, too, without any observation upon the direction in which he was going.

As soon as he felt himself out of the reach of his tormentors, he sat down upon the steps of a mansion, to consider what was best to be done. All the shops, and even the taverns, were closed—not a place was open where he could procure the least assistance; he had not even an acquaintance in the neighbourhood to whom he might apply.

He was, indeed, a pitiable object to look upon The hat he had so recently purchased, bad as it was when it came into his possession, was now infinitely less presentable. In the severe trials it had undergone, in company with its unfortunate owner, it had lost its tip and half the brim. The countenance beneath it would, however, have absorbed the gazer's whole attention. His lips were swelled to a size that would have been regarded as large even on the face of a Congo negro, and one eye was puffed out to an alarming extent; whilst the coating of tar he had received rendered him such an object as the reader can but faintly picture to himself.

The door of the mansion was suddenly opened, and there issued forth a party of young men, evidently in an advanced state of intoxication. "Hallo! here's a darkey!" exclaimed one of them, as the light from the hall fell upon the upturned face of Mr. Stevens. "Ha, ha! Here's a darkey—now for some fun!"

Mr. Stevens was immediately surrounded by half a dozen well-dressed young men, who had evidently been enjoying an entertainment not conducted upon temperance principles. "Spirit of—hic—hic—night, whence co-co-comest thou?" stammered one; "sp-p-peak—art thou a creature of the mag-mag-na-tion-goblin-damned, or only a nigger?—speak!" Mr. Stevens, who at once recognized one or two of the parties as slight acquaintances, would not open his mouth, for fear that his voice might discover him, as to them, above all persons, he would have shrunk from making himself known, he therefore began to make signs as though he were dumb.

"Let him alone," said one of the more sober of the party; "he's a poor dumb fellow—let him go." His voice was disregarded, however, as the rest seemed bent on having some sport.

A half-hogshead, nearly filled with water, which stood upon the edge of the pavement, for the convenience of the builders who were at work next door, caught the attention of one of them.

"Let's make him jump into this," he exclaimed, at the same time motioning to Mr. Stevens to that effect. By dint of great effort they made him understand what was required, and they then continued to make him jump in and out of the hogshead for several minutes; then, joining hands, they danced around him, whilst he stood knee-deep in the water, shivering, and making the most imploring motions to be set at liberty.

Whilst they were thus engaged, the door again opened, and the fashionable Mr. Morton (who had been one of the guests) descended the steps, and came to see what had been productive of so much mirth.

"What have you got here?" he asked, pressing forward, until he saw the battered form of Mr. Stevens; "oh, let the poor darkey go," he continued, compassionately, for he had just drunk enough to make him feel humane; "let the poor fellow go, it's a shame to treat him in this manner."

As he spoke, he endeavoured to take from the hands of one of the party a piece of chip, with which he was industriously engaged in streaking the face of Mr. Stevens with lime, "Let me alone, Morton—let me alone; I'm making a white man of him, I'm going to make him a glorious fellow-citizen, and have him run for Congress. Let me alone, I say."

Mr. Morton was able, however, after some persuasion, to induce the young men to depart; and as his home lay in a direction opposite to theirs, he said to Mr. Stevens, "Come on, old fellow, I'll protect you."

As soon as they were out of hearing of the others, Mr. Stevens exclaimed, "Don't you know me, Morton?"

Mr. Morton started back with surprise, and looked at his companion in a bewildered manner, then exclaimed, "No, I'll be hanged if I do. Who the devil are you?"

"I'm Stevens; you know me."

"Indeed I don't. Who's Stevens?"

"You don't know me! why, I'm George Stevens, the lawyer."

Mr. Morton thought that he now recognized the voice, and as they were passing under the lamp at the time, Mr. Stevens said to him, "Put your finger on my face, and you will soon see it is only tar." Mr. Morton did as he was desired, and found his finger smeared with the sticky article.

"What on earth have you been doing with yourself?" he asked, with great surprise; "what is all this masquerading for?"

Mr. Stevens hereupon related his visit at Whitticar's, and detailed the events that had subsequently occurred.

Mr. Morton gave vent to shouts of laughter as he listened to the recital of his friend. "By George!" he exclaimed, "I'll have to tell that; it is too good to keep."

"Oh, no, don't," said Mr. Stevens; "that won't do—you forget what I came out for?"

"True," rejoined Mr. Morton; "I suppose it will be best to keep mum about it. I'll go home with you, you might fall into the hands of the Philistines again."

"Thank you—thank you," replied Mr. Stevens, who felt greatly relieved to have some company for his further protection; "and," continued he, "if I could only get some of this infernal stuff off my face, I should be so glad; let us try."

Accordingly they stopped at the nearest pump, and endeavoured to remove some of the obnoxious tar from his face; but, unfortunately, the only result obtained by their efforts was to rub it more thoroughly in, so they were compelled to give up in despair, and hasten onward.

Mr. Stevens rang so loudly at the door, as to quite startle his wife and the charity-girl, both of whom had fallen into a sound sleep, as they sat together awaiting his return. Mr. Morton, who, as we have said before, was not entirely sober, was singing a popular melody, and keeping time upon the door with the head of his cane. Now, in all her life, Mrs. Stevens had never heard her husband utter a note, and being greatly frightened at the unusual noise upon the door-step, held a hurried consultation with the charity-girl upon the best mode of proceeding.

"Call through the key-hole, ma'am," suggested she, which advice Mrs. Stevens immediately followed, and inquired, "Who's there?"

"Open the door, Jule, don't keep me out here with your darned nonsense; let me in quick."

"Yes, let him in," added Mr. Morton; "he's brought a gentleman from Africa with him."

Mrs. Stevens did not exactly catch the purport of the words uttered by Mr. Morton; and, therefore, when she opened the door, and her husband, with his well-blacked face, stalked into the entry, she could not repress a scream of fright at the hideous figure he presented.

"Hush, hush," he exclaimed, "don't arouse the neighbours—it's me; don't you know my voice."

Mrs. Stevens stared at him in a bewildered manner, and after bidding Mr. Morton "Good night," she closed and locked the door, and followed her husband into the back room. In a short time he recapitulated the events of the night to his astonished and indignant spouse, who greatly commiserated his misfortunes. A bottle of sweet oil was brought into requisition, and she made a lengthened effort to remove the tar from her husband's face, in which she only partially succeeded; and it was almost day when he crawled off to bed, with the skin half scraped off from his swollen face.



CHAPTER XIX.

The Alarm.

Immediately after the departure of Mr. Stevens, Master Kinch began to consider the propriety of closing the establishment for the night. Sliding down from the counter, where he had been seated, reflecting upon the strange conduct of his recent customer, he said, "I feels rather queer round about here," laying his hand upon his stomach; "and I'm inclined to think that some of them 'ere Jersey sausages and buckwheat cakes that the old man has been stuffing himself with, wouldn't go down slow. Rather shabby in him not to come back, and let me go home, and have a slap at the wittles. I expect nothing else, but that he has eat so much, that he's fell asleep at the supper-table, and won't wake up till bedtime. He's always serving me that same trick."

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