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tained it, in a low tone, so as not to be heard by the strangers, forgetting, I conclude, that the pitch of voice which rendered it inaudible to them, left me equally ill-informed.
Pray, sir,” said the big lady, “ when does this here coach git to the Olephant and Castle ?”
“At a little past eight,” said I. “We goes through Kinnington, I believe," said the lady, 66 We do."
“ If it is quite agreeable, sir," continued the awful dame, “to your good lady to have that 'ere window up, I should be uncommon oblegated, because my little Emily Lawinia is jist out of the scarlet fever, and I am afeard of her taking could."
The combination of blunders in this little speech set the late weeping Fanny into a laugh ; for there was in the corner of her eye that playful sparkle which no grief can quite subdue. She was as readily alive to fun as assailable by sorrow; and so it is with all people who feel strongly; for, as Moore says in one of his Melodies,
“The heart that is soonest awake to the flowers,
Is always the first to be touch'd by the thorns."
The plump lady, however, found that she had made some mistake; and not at all taking into the account that people in general do not very much approve of shutting themselves up in a coach, hermetically sealed, with patients in the scarlet fever, set me and my "good lady” down as two proud, conceited upstarts, and revenged herself, to our utter dismay, by dissipating the sorrows of silence, in enjoying the solace of peppermint lozenges, one of which she herself took, and administered another to her darling pet on the opposite seat; so that while my companion was gratified by the redolence of the fragrant herb through the medium of the old lady, I was indulged by the more active and efficient exertions of the living anatomy next her.
The coach rattled on, and I beheld my opposite neighbour no longer as a stranger. She leaned forward, just as we
passed Kennington turnpike, and asked me whether I went on to Charing-cross, or left the coach at the Elephant and Castle. I told her that I stuck by the ship to the last, and hoped she would permit me to assist her in securing her luggage. It was at this period, in the midst of the jangle of the vehicle and the clatter of the Macadamized road, that I 'endeavoured to induce her to tell me her name. This she positively refused. Then I looked about for the superscription of a letter, which sometimes very inflexible ladies, under similar circumstances, will considerately let slip-and thus, one gets in a moment accidentally what worlds would not tempt them deliberately to disclose—but no—it was too dark to read writing; yet, I was so convinced that she actually held a card ready to give me, that I endeavoured gently to force her delicate right hand open, in order to obtain the desired information. But, I found I was wrong; she seemed determined, either that I should know nothing more of her, or, if I did, that I should at least have the trouble, or pleasure, as the case might be, of hunting after my intelligence.
Failing in the main point of my inquiries, I endeavoured to ascertain what part of London she resided in, and tried every street, square, row, and corner, from Grove-road, Paddington, to Dog-row, Whitechapel, in order to excite an affirmative nod, and one of those bewitching smiles which I began to love-but no. Well, thought I, the time must come when you must go, and then I shall follow; and so, if you choose to be silent and uncommunicative, and dignified and disagreeable, I can be revenged upon you; not that I could believe a woman who would generously confide the sorrows of her heart to a man, could be ill-natured enough to withhold the trifling addition of telling him when that heart was doomed to beat.
The moment arrived, and we reached the Elephant and Castle. The sudden check of Goodman's team took my poor Fanny by surprise, and threw her forward, so as to bring her somewhat in contact with myself; but the lamps of the
coach had been lighted at Smithers-bottom, and we were in the dark, compared with objects without; and never shall I forget the hurried scramble into which she “righted herself,” as her eye glanced on a countenance outside the carriage, brightly illuminated by the lamp on that side-she seemed thunder-struck.
My God!” said she, “ here's Charles !” « Who the devil is Charles ?" said I. “ Hush !--my husband,” replied the lady; "he's coming : -I'm so glad these people are in the coach.”
The door opened, and a hand was introduced. “Fanny!” said the master of that hand, in a soft tone of endearment.
“ Here I am, love," said my companion.
“ Yes, dcar," said the wife; "and so tired. I never was so glad to get out of a coach in my life.”
In a moment I thought I recognised the voice of the husband. I coiled myself into the corner.
She would have got out without my being betrayed, if she had not dropped her glove.- Why the deuce had she taken it off?-A light was sent for, and the moment it came I beheld, in the object of all my indignation, and the cause of all her sorrow—the oldest friend of my life-Charles Franklin.
Why,” exclaimed he, the moment he recognised me, " is that you ! -fellow-traveller with my wife, and not known to each other? this is curious!”
5. Franklin!” said I, in a sort of tremor.
“Do you know my husband, sir ?” said the lady—“how very strange!"
Yes, thought I, I wish it were impossible.
“ I have not seen you these ten years," said Franklin “ Come home with us—you must and shall-1
--" “ Indeed," said I _"1___"
Oh, come, come,” said Franklin ; “ you can have no engagement--you shall have no engagement to supersede this, I rejoice in having found you after so long a separation
and then Mr. Franklin introduced me to his wife in due form, much to the astonishment of our fellow-travellers at the other side of the coach, who concluded, by what they had seen, as indeed they had shown by what they had said, that we were, if actually not man and wise, two of the oldest and most intimate possible friends.
I have a melting heart in the way of a proposition from a friend, especially when it is made under extraordinary circumstances, like those which accompanied and preceded Franklin's; but altogether I sincerely declare, that I never was more embarrassed in my existence. I still wished to see the adventure through, and behold my Niobe in her own domicile. I looked to my charming companion for a telegraphic signal. If she had frowned a negative, I should have repeated the signal, and strenuously declined going; but by the glare of the lamp at the inn door I thought I saw affirmative in the glance of her eye, which induced me to believe, that my visit would not annoy her; and so, really, rather than doom her to a tête-à-tête with her tyrantthough he was my friend—I consented to put myself in a position as irksome almost as position could be.
We left the coach-my trips from Brighton being periodical and frequent, I had no luggage, and we proceeded, with the maid and the bandboxes, to my friend's house-of course I shall be excused mentioning the locality—but it was one of the prettiest bijoux I ever saw : good taste predominated in every part of its decorations, and I soon discovered, by certain drawings which were pendent on the walls, that my fair companion was an artist, while the pianoforte and harp bespoke her (as she had herself, indeed, informed me she was accomplished in other sciences.
After a suitable delay of preparation, such as taking off things, and refreshing, and all that, our dinner was served -nothing could be nicer or neater.
“Fanny, dearest,” said Franklin, “ let me give you this wing; I know, my life, you like it."
No, Charles, dear, not a bit more, thank you,” said Fanny.
“Come, love, a glass of wine with me,” said Charles; “ tis an old fashion, but we have been apart some weeks, so our friend will excuse it.”
“ To be sure be will,” said Fanny, and they drank to each other with looks admirably suited to the action.
“ How strange it is,” said Franklin, “ that after so long a separation, we should meet in this extraordinary manner, and that Fanny should not have found you out, or that you should not have discovered her!”
“Why, my dear Charles,” said Mrs. Franklin, “ strangers do not talk to each other in stage coaches.”
“Very true, my angel,” said Mr. Franklin; “ but some accident might have brought your name to his ears, or his, to yours.”
While all this was going on, I sat in a state of perfect amazement. Charles Franklin and I had been schoolfellows, and continued friends to a certain period of life; he was all that his wife had described him to be, in the earlier part of his life, but I confess I saw none of the heartlessness, the suspicion, the neglect, the violence, the inattention of which she also spoke; nor did I perceive, in the bright animated' look of pleasure which beamed over her intelligent countenance, the slightest remains of the grief and sorrow by which she had been weighed down on the journey. “Do you feel tired, my Fanny ?” said Franklin.
No, dear,” replied the lady, “not very, now; but those coaches are so small when there are four people in them, that one gets cramped."
Here I felt a sort of tingling sensation behind my ears, anticipatory of what appeared to me to be a very natural question on the part of Franklin, as to whether we had been full during the whole journey; Mrs. Franklin, however, saw in a moment the false move she had made, and therefore directed the thoughts of her barbarous husband from the sub