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He ascended to Cooke's dressing-room, and finding the veteran at leisure, and disposed to listen, he related his adventure a second time. The variation was very little from the first, which was very literal. Cooke, who, as has been said, played Macduff to Cooper's Macbeth, the two tragedians occasionally playing second to each other, was not called to “ on" until he had heard and warmly approved his young friend's conduct. He was cool and collected, for his late sufferings had not yet lost their salutary effect. He was at leisure, for Macduff was in England and had not yet heard of the massacre of his little ones.” That important personage, the call-boy, (whose usual duty only extends to calling performers from the green-room, but is stretched to the dressing-rooms of the magnates of the drama) at length appeared, and shouted, " Macduff.” Macduff hastencd to the scene of action, and Spiffard was left with trustworthy Davenport, who opportunely entered with the call-boy.
“ A great house to-night,” said Trusty. “They swarm like a snarl of bees, before hiving, at the sound of a warming-pan. I don't wonder at it, when there is three sich great actors, and sich a play to be seen.
" A fine house," said Spiffard.
“ To my notion,” continued the traveller, “ Mrs. Spiffard beats" all the world to-night. I'm not easily frit, but darn me, if she didn't almost scear me just now.” " Why? have you been in front, Davenport ?"
No, sir, I have been standing behind the prompter, and looking over his head. I should be puzzled to do that thing, if Mrs. Spiffard was prompter, for she is a most a magnificent woman-'most as tall as I be.?! Zeb stretched himself as high as Davenport's shoulder. Did you notice
disturbance in the boxes while Mrs. Spiffard was on the stage?"
“ Not the dropping of a feather :-only when they made all shake again with applauding her. What a thunder-clap that was, to be sure !"
Spiffard could not resist the tempting opportunity offered by his brother Yankee's leading remarks, and he told, for the third time, the adventure of the Shakspeare box, with but little variation.
At length the tragedy was over; Spiffard took his stand again before the green-room fire, to wait for his wife.
Cooper having lost both crown and life, was sooner restored to the habiliments of commoners than the lady, and joined the comedian. Soon after Simpson and Hilson, who were dressed for the farce, added to the party.
"Spiffard, have you been in front?"
“ Two blackguards came into the Shakspeare box and disturbed the audience while Mrs. Spiffard was in one of her best scenes; and the scoundrels made use of insolent language respecting her-her person—her acting-and I think I can appeal to any one in favour of her Lady Macbeth at all times." " That you may.”
" She certainly never play'd it or look'd it better, than to-night.”
“ More than well,” said Hilson.
No, upon my honour I mean fair and honest.” " But you, Spiff, when they insulted Mrs. Spiffard ?-What said you ?” asked the manager.
" . This may be sport,' said I, . to you, but it is a serious injury,—a wanton outrage upon the feelings of the audience and i the actor or actress.”
6 • Sport to you, but death to us,' just what the frogs said to the boys when they pelted them."
“ Pooh, Tam, don't interrupt the story.”
66. Your remarks are impertinent—I don't mean yours Hi!son—and • savour more of ignorance than wit.'” “Very well, Spiff, I'll mark you for that,” said Hilson.
"None but blackguards would insult a female or disturb the representation of scenes in which the feelings of an audience are deeply interested.'” 66 Well. What said they.”
They look'd at each other, and then at me, as much as to say, 'who are you ??-I answered the look
“ With a look ?”
" • I am that lady's husband.' They look'd at each other again-appeared to feel like fools by quitting their places, for they were standing on the seats of the box, and soon after they shuffled off, as well as they could."
* And left you • cock of the waik," as Milstone says."
“We ought all to thank you,” said Cooper, " they were your pea-nut fellows, I suppose."
The reader will observe that this recital varied somewhat from the scene as he witnessed it. These were not the very words that were spoken. Yet Spiffard did not mean to misrepresent. This was more than a thrice-told tale. Who among us, lovers of truth as we all are, tells the same story in the same words? In
very truth, there is something very strange in this machinery of ours :-excitement or depression ; winding up, or running down; causes those sounds which we call words, to vary not only in tone but signification; and a little variation in the light, materially changes the picture. Zebediah Spiffard is our hero, and an adorer of truth : yet he was but a man. He was tempted, perhaps, by the influence of his light-hearted companions, to deviate from the strict letter of his story, and, like many others, whose memoirs have not yet been published, dearly he paid for it.
It can't be too strongly insisted upon, in defence of Spiffard, that this, as has been already said, was the fourth time that he told this story,—perhaps it was the hundredth time that he had thought it over. Now, there is a poetical spirit in mankind, or at least in some men, and women, which amplifies, or magnifies, or adorns, or distorts, according to circumstances, without any criminal intention of falsifying or deceiving, but merely from an amiable desire to appear well in the eyes of our hearers, as we dress, decorate, and show ourselves to the world, not to gratify ourselves, but to give pleasure to others.
Of all men, Zebediah Spiffard was the most conscientious in his statements of fact; the most literal in his repetition of words, when cool and collected; but now he was, and had been for some time, in a continual state of excitement; and his imagination (always active) unnaturally vivid. Will he, nill he, his imagination would colour his words, and even his cheeks had a tinge of red in consequence of its activity.
“What manner of men were these ?" inquired Cooper. “Of very bad manners, I should think,” said Hilson.
“ Tam, keep your stage jokes till you meet those who relish them. If you speak before you get your cue, I'll forfeit you. What did the fellows look like, Spiff?" Rough looking fellows, wrapped up
coarse great coats." You behaved like a hero. I doubt not they were some of your pea-nut-munching gentry. I will petition the corporation for an ordinance prohibiting the sale of pea-nuts, from the hour of six until ten, P. M."
Why those hours ?" asked Hilson. “ Because the intermediate hours are devoted to tragedytragedy hours. They may eat as many pea-nuts as they please while you are mumming Numpo."
By this time, Cooke had doffed his harness, and, arrayed in suit of sober grey, entered the green-room. He joined the group of young men by the fire. Spiffard went out to inquire if his wife was ready to go home.
So,” said George Frederic, “ Mr. Spiffard has had an affair with some persons who behaved improperly in the boxes. I give him credit and thanks for putting down the illiberal impertinence of these box-lobby-loungers."
"Pooh! they were only a brace of blackguard swaggerers," was Hilson's remark. They didn't know the difference between box and gallery."
"The ticket-seller might teach them that. No, no. I gather from what Mr. Spiffard told me, that they were men of some bearing." * Bears, I doubt not,” lisped Hilson.
They found themselves in the wrong box, and crept out,” continued Cooke.
" They saw by his squaring,” added Hilson, laughing and lisping, that Spiff was a boxer ; and as Allen's square shoulders were ready to back him, they backed out. Don't you call this backing your friends ?'
" I'll bet a hundred," said the manager, " that Spiffard begins to think this an affair of some consequence. Hark’ee, Tam, couldn't something be made of this ?"
Mr. and Mrs. Spiffard entered. The gentlemen made way for the towering and fine-looking dame. Cooke complimented her on her great performance. She replied in an appropriate manner-cast one glance at the full length mirror of the greenroom_bowed her "good night to the young gentlemenshook hands with George Frederick-took her husband's arm -and-they were gone.
Spiffard walked off with his stately and over-topping dame, better pleased with her and with himself, that both had acted well. He had not felt so much satisfied with his !ot, since the scene in the park. They had no sooner disappeared, than Cooke observed,
“ That's a fine actress; and a fine woman."
“ A great woman,” said Hilson ; “ and Zeb's a great man, for a man no greater. And I think he behaved most heroically i to-night ; and what's more, he thinks so, too."
“ He is what the old dramatists call "a tall fellow,'" said Cooke.
“Of his inches."
“ You envy him his tall wife.”
“ While this passed, sportively, between Cooke and Hilson, Cooper was in a revery.
s Good night, lads, and good thoughts,” said the veteranfor Trustworthy entered to announce a hack, ready for the convalescent tragedian, who left the scene: a scene where actors and actresses were reading their “parts,” preparatory to their “ going on;" some refreshing memory ; some conning over that which had been neglected-some trying to comprehend the meaning of a passage, to which their cue furnished no clue. There, two might be seen rehearsing a dialogue ; and near them, a third, reciting, aloud, speeches from an author: the whole forming a medley of babel-like sounds, proceeding from the motley-dressed company.
“ Cooper,” said Hilson, “ though I like to quiz Spiff, I think he has pluck. If these same fellows had shown fight, the affair might have ended in a box-lobby challenge."
The tragedian made no answer, but stood with his brow most terrifically knit. Hilson continued, chuckling, “ I wish that the bullies had turned upon Zeb, only for the fun of it. I suppose they were big-boned Goliahs, who might think, conjointly, to make a meal of one of us middle-sized gentlemen; or, singly, to put Spiff into either of their coat-pockets ; but they would have found him a hard bargain.”
• What did you say about challenge ?”! “I? Nothing.”
• Darkly a project peers upon my mind, like the red moon when rising in the east." "
Numpo!” said the call-boy. “ Tam," said Cooper, very deliberately, “ do you and Ned
66 I'm called."
“Stop. Do you and Ned Simpson meet me in my room, after the farce,
6 I have been called." - Od Kent has orders for a supper4 Terrapins?" 6 Terrapins. If I do not mistake my talents, or Kent's, I will produce a plot shall give zest to his supper. I will edify you with a plan of operations, that aptly carried into execution, will try little Zebediah’s courage to the heart of it."
“Why, Cooper, you don't think