Слике страница
PDF
ePub

as he always left them to settle the matter first, and then looked over the bill and money with a careless gentility, saying, “Very right,” or, “Very well, sir ;” wisely calculating, that it was better to lose a few shillings on the road than to lose a hundred pounds by the risk of Hibernian miscalculation.

Whilst the chaise was getting ready, he went to the custom-house to look after his baggage. He found a red-hot countryman of his own there, roaring about four and fourpence, and fighting the battle of his trunks, in which he was ready to make affidavit there was not, nor never had been, any thing contraband; and when the custom-house officer replied by pulling out of one of them a piece of Irish poplin, the Hibernian fell immediately upon the Union, which he swore was Disunion, as the custom-house officers managed it. Sir John Bull appeared to much advantage all this time, maintaining a dignified silence ; from his quiet appearance and deportment, the custom-house officers took it for granted that he was an Englishman. He was in no hurry; he begged that gentleman's business might be settled first; he would wait the officer's leisure, and as he spoke he played so dexterously with half-a-guinea between his fingers as to make it visible only where he wished. The custom-house officer was his humble servant immediately; but the Hibernian would have been his enemy, if he had not conciliated him by observing, “that even Englishmen must allow there was something very like a bull in professing to make a complete identification of the two kingdoms, whilst, at the same time, certain regulations continued in full force to divide the countries by art, even more than the British channel does by nature.”

Sir John talked so plausibly, and, above all, so candidly and coolly on Irish and English politics, that the custom-house officer conversed with him for a quarter of an hour without guessing of what country he was, till in an unlucky moment Phelim's heart got the better of his head. Joining in the praises bestowed by all parties on the conduct of a distinguished patriot of his country, he, in the height of his enthusiasm, inadvertently called him the Speaker.

The Speaker !" said the officer.

“Yes, the Speaker-our Speaker !" cried Phelim, with exultation. He was not aware how he had betrayed himself, till the officer smiled and said

“Sir, I really never should have found out that you were an Irishman but from the manner in which you named your countryman, who is as highly thought of by all parties in this country as in yours : your enthusiasm does honour to your heart.”

“ And to my head, I'm sure,” said our hero, laughing with the best grace imaginable. “Well! I am glad you have found me out in this manner, though I lose the eighth part of a bet of a hundred guineas

by it.

He explained the wager, and begged the customhouse officer to keep his secret, which he promised to do faithfully, and assured him, that “ he should be happy to do any thing in his power to serve him." Whilst he was uttering these last words, there came

و

in a snug, but soft-looking Englishman, who opining from the words “happy to do any thing in my power to serve you” that O'Mooney was a friend of the custom-house officer's, and encouraged by something affable and good-natured in our hero's countenance, crept up to him, and whispered a request—“Could you tell a body, sir, how to get out of the customhouse a very valuable box of Sèvre china that has being laying in the custom-house three weeks, and which I was commissioned to get out if I could, and bring up to town for a lady."

As a lady was in the case, O'Mooney's gallantry instantly made his good-nature effective. The box of Sèvre china was produced, and opened only as a matter of form, and only as a matter of curiosity its contents were examined-a beautiful set of Sèvre china and a pendule, said to have belonged to M. Egalité! “ These things must be intended,” said Phelim, “for some lady of superior taste or fortune.”

As Phelim was a proficient in the Socratic art of putting judicious interrogatories, he was soon happily master of the principal points it concerned him to know: he learnt that the lady was rich -a spinster -of full age-at her own disposal -- living with a single female companion at Blackheath—furnishing a house there in a superior style-had two carriages ---her christian name Mary-her surname Sharper

son.

O'Mooney, by the blessing of God, it shall soon be, thought Phelim. He politely offered the Englishman a place in his chaise for himself and Sèvre china,

as it was for a lady, and would run great hazard in the stage, which besides was full. Mr. Queasy, for that was our soft Englishman's name, was astonished by our hero's condescension and affability, especially as he heard him called sir John: he bowed sundry times as low as the fear of losing his wig would permit, and accepted the polite offer with many thanks for himself and the lady concerned.

Sir John Bull's chaise and four was soon ready ; and Queasy seated in the corner of it, and the Sèvre china safely stowed between his knees. Captain Murray, a Scotch officer, was standing at the inn door, with his eyes intently fixed on the letters that were worked in nails on the top of sir John's trunk ; the letters were P. O’M. Our hero, whose eyes were at least as quick as the Scotchman's, was alarmed lest this should lead to a second detection. He called instantly, with his usual presence of mind, to the ostler, and desired him to uncord that trunk, as it was not to go with him ; raising his voice loud enough for all the yard to hear, he added “It is not mine at all; it belongs to my friend, Mr. O'Mooney : let it be sent after me, at leisure, by the waggon, as directed, to the care of sir John Bull.”

Our hero was now giving his invention a prodigious quantity of superfluous trouble ; and upon this occasion, as upon most others, he was more in danger from excess than deficiency of ingenuity: he was like the man in the fairy tale, who was obliged to tie his legs lest he should outrun the object of which he was in pursuit. The Scotch officer, though his eyes were fixed on the letters P. O’M., had none of the suspicions which Phelim was counteracting ; he was only considering how he could ask for the third place in sir John's chaise during the next stage, as he was in great haste to get to town upon particular business, and there were no other horses at the inn. When he heard that the heavy baggage was to go by the waggon, he took courage, and made his request. It was instantly granted by the good-natured Hibernian, who showed as much hospitality about his chaise as if it had been his house. Away they drove as fast as they could. Fresh dangers awaited him at the next inn. He left his hat upon the table in the hall whilst he went into the parlour, and when he returned, he heard some person inquiring what Irish gentleman was there. Our hero was terribly alarmed, for he saw that his hat was in the inquirer's hand, and he recollected that the name of Phelim O'Mooney was written in it. This the inquisitive gentleman did not see, for it was written in no very legible characters on the leather withinside of the front; but “F. Guest, hatter, Dame-street, Dublin,” was a printed advertisement that could not be mistaken, and that was pasted within the O'Mooney's presence of mind did not forsake him upon this emergency.

“My good sir," said he, turning to Queasy, who, without hearing one word of what was passing, was coming out of the parlour with his own hat and gloves in his hand; “My good sir," continued he,

crown.

« ПретходнаНастави »