Abbildungen der Seite



[ocr errors]

The hoax renewed, and a mystery in Albany.

"I will unfold some causes." - Shakspeare.

" The deadly arrow still clings to his side.- Virgil.

“What grief hath set the jaundice on your cheeks ?'' “A noble gentleman 'tis, if he would not keep so good a house. Many a time and often I have dined with him and told him on't: and come again to supper to him, of purpose to have him spend less. * * * This is no time to lend money."

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

We must return to the frolicsome youths, who, with perfect good will to our hero, had begun to execute a plot with success, in which they saw nothing but sport, and whose termination, in any serious mischief, was farthest from their thoughts.

On the evening of the day that the meeting with Mr. Smith (though not Captain Smith) took place at the Albany coffeehouse, Spiffard, as was his wont, when he only played in the farce, and when the old tragedian was the attraction of the night, walked into Cooke's dressing-room, knowing that the veteran was not required on the stage until the second act of the play, and wishing to have a little friendly chat with one to whom he felt an attachment, the cause of which was, perhaps, unknown to himself. An attachment which was one great inducement for his frequenting the tables where wine was abused by the so called use of it. If it was a fault, grievously he suffered for it.

The disappointment of the morning had relieved Spiffard from a load, and he felt not a little the better for the relief. Cooke was still in good condition, and had, since his last ill

66 do

ness, preserved his faculties of body and mind in as perfect a state asmight be with a man whose habits had been for years at enmity with health and reason.

On Spiffard's entrance, the old man accosted him cheerfully, with, “ Well, my young friend! Where have you been? I have not seen you to-day.”

“ The morning was occupied in attempting to meet Captain Smith."

Cooke's face assumed that peculiar expression of archness which none can realize who have not seen him on or off the stage, and holding his head somewhat down, he turned


his eyes, somewhat as he used wher he repeated, you think I didn't know you ?" A look which none who saw it can forget. “ So-so-you did not meet him."

The veteran felt himself bound not to “peach," as Hilson had termed it. This look might have excited suspicion in any but the straight-forward Vermonter.

“Captain Smith dissapointed you." “ Yes.

After all the parade of demanding an apology, and pretension to honour, he did not keep his appointment.” " Then you-you know nothing of Captain Smith ?”

Only as the fellow who abused Mrs. Spiffard when she was playing Lady Macbeth.”

“ I remember—you mean the blackguard you were obliged to reprimand for disturbing the audience by his impertinence."

“ He turns out to be a gentleman-or at least pretends to demand an apology from me.”

“* But you told me,” said Cooke, wishing to give a hint, "you told me that both the fellows were in pea-ja-kets or dread-naughts—or some such apparel—and were as rough in appearance as in manners."

“ So they were. But Cooper says that might be disguise : an appearance and manner assumed in sport. And Allen says that Captain Smith is a gentleman commanding a fine ship, and a man of honour. And Cooper, you know"

“ 0, yes, Tom is up to all that. But it's all over now. You got rid of the affair !"!

" He did not make his appearance."
66 So.

I supposed as much.”
Why?-You do not know him ?”!

No.-Upon my word I do not. No more than if he never had existence. And you found no traces of him at the place he appointed ? No Captain Smith was to be heard of.”'

6. O, yes.

The bar-keeper said that he frequented the house."

“0, then it is not over yet. You will see or hear from him again-by and by."

" I rather think that he has thought best to drop the unprofitable affair."

“Unprofitable. Yes, yes, it had best be dropt-I advise--"

What further light the old gentleman was going to let in upon his friend's unsuspicious mind, cannot be known, for the eternal call-boy, whose mandate is as preremptory as that of fate, appeared with his list of summonses in his hand.

“ Mr. Cooke! to begin the second act!”
“I'm ready. Send Kent to me, my good boy.”
“ And I'll go and prepare for Caleb Quotem."

So ended a colloquy, which, continued a minute or two longer, might have spared years of bitter reflection. So are we governed by apparent, or real, trifles !

The gay and frolic-loving Allen, the equally sport-loving Hilson, and many other of the young manager's friends, (Cooke and Spiffard both having engagements, were not of the party,) dined with him. His ever open hand and house were like that of Lord Timon's—some of his friends were Athenians too-it will be so.

Over the after-dinner's accompaniments, the wines of France, the fruits of Italy, and the cigars of Spain, with Irish whiskey, cogniac brandy and West India rum—so tables were covered thirty years ago—over such stimulants, in the interval between the song, the glee and the glass, the manager related with much humour the adventure at the Albany CoffeeHouse, concluding with " I wish Spiff would come. I want to see how he would take the disclosure of the plot. He's a good fellow! I believe I might have passed the little old gentleman with the cane-coloured wig upon him for the redoubted Captain John Smith. Do


think he will believe it was all a trick, when we tell him that no captain Smith—at least for him-is in existence ?!

“Why truly, a man's word may be doubted when he acknowledges a deceit. Truth has but one face,” remarked on of the guests.

Suppose,” said Hilson, “ that Spiff should turn the tables on us, as Cooke did after the Cato duel, and say he knew from the beginning what we meant, and only shammed innocence to let us hoax ourselves. Suppose he comes off with, • I knew ye all, like Falstaff?"

“ He can't! He can't! He's as easily seen through as his own beverage. I long to explain and have the laugh upon him !

Why you don't mean to give up the joke now that you have a real Captain Smith to carry it on with ?”

“We've gone far enough. Let us have our laugh and have done with it."

“ Why give up the game ?” said Allen, “ when we have it all in our own hands. Spiff knows, from the waiter's or the bar-keeper's testimony that there is a Captain Smith who frequents the Albany Coffee-House. All we have to do is to make appointments and keep them from meeting. Chance has made a man for us, all we have to do is to play him.”

The manager still protested against carrying on the hoax any further; and if Spiffard had fortunately dropped in, there would have been an end of it, in a laugh. But as the wine declined in the bottles and mounted elsewhere; as noise increased and the tobacco smoke thickened, Allen and the Colonel persuaded the company that the opportunity must not be lost of trying how far the credulity of a man of good sense might be imposed upon. They forgot the remark of one of the company,

" that truth has but one faco.They did not see (through the mists about them) some other truisms, that might have stood in their way: the second act of the drama was matured, the plot founded on the “ lucky circumstance," as Allen called it, “ that a Captain Smith occasionally frequented the Albany Coffee House ; that they had a man ready made to their hands, and had only to move him as the game required.”

Allen was himself to make the first move. Cooper declared off:

: Allen was to act as friend and counseller. The manager promised not to inform. But it was agreed to let the matter rest a few days, and a journey which Spiffard made a short time after, deferred their sport yet longer.

There was at this time a company of actors performing at Albany, and offers for a few nights' exertion of his talents had been made to Mr. Spiffard, which by a friendly arrangement with the New-York manager, he was enabled to accept.

Although January had commenced, the great river was still open, the severity of winter had not yet been experienced ; and my readers know that the clear, frosty, but moderate weather of our early winter is health-and-joy-inspiring. Spiffard looked forward to the excursion with pleasure. He had been in Albany but once, and then merely to pass through it from CanVOL. II.



[ocr errors][merged small]

ada. He did not feel the worse that Captain Smith had absconded.

Mrs. Spiffard did not seem at ease when the project of these few days residence in Albany was communicated to her by her husband. She even changed colour.

You have told me that you were some time there-how did you like the place ?"

· Not at all."
* Have you any friends there-any acquaintance ?"
“ Where is the best boarding-house ?"

By all means go to Cruttenden’s. It is on the hill and near the State-house. By all means go there, Mr. Spiffard; he is a friend to the drama-you will like him and his house."

66 I should wish to be near the theatre.”

“ There isma place nearer-but it is a vile house and very disagreeable people. Do not go there.”

Now it so happened that Cruttenden's hotel was full. Thronged with members of the Legislature ; and chance, as it is called, led Spiffard, to a public house, half tavern, half boarding house, kept by an Englishman of the name of Thompson. There he was received ; and found that it had been the usual resort of the Thespians who visited the seat of government; but, for some cause not within his or my knowledge, was rather shunned at this time.

The landlord was a garrulous beer-drinker, and not unlike Farquhar's Boniface in person, manner or reverence for the strength of his potations. He was a short, fat man; not stout. and portly; but heavy and burly. His wife looked like his twin sister.

After the fatigues, the pleasure, and the exertion of an evening's performance, Spiffard entered and found his landlord sitting with his hand on the handle of a tankard ; and his counterpart, in petticoats, employed within the railing which separated the bar from the space occupied by newspapers, and, at this time, by Boniface.

“Great house, I understand, to-night, sir." “ The house appeared full.” “ Not so, before you came, sir. What will you drink, sir ?" “ A tumbler of water."

Thompson recommended his beer and his brandy, his rum and his gin, his whiskey, but above all his ale—then. frothing in the tankard. To his surprise all was without effect.

“ What do you drink, sir ?"

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »