Charles Dickens

There was, evidently, something in the contents of the letter, of a nature, if not wholly unexpected, certainly extremely disagreeable. Mr. Alexander Trott laid it down, and took it up again, and walked about the room on particular squares of the carpet, and even attempted, though unsuccessfully, to whistle an air. It wouldn't do. He threw himself into a chair, and read the following epistle aloud:-

'Blue Lion and Stomach-warmer, 'Great Winglebury. 'Wednesday Morning.

'Sir. Immediately on discovering your intentions, I left our counting-house, and followed you. I know the purport of your journey;--that journey shall never be completed.

'I have no friend here, just now, on whose secrecy I can rely. This shall be no obstacle to my revenge. Neither shall Emily Brown be exposed to the mercenary solicitations of a scoundrel, odious in her eyes, and contemptible in everybody else's: nor will I tamely submit to the clandestine attacks of a base umbrella-maker.

'Sir. From Great Winglebury church, a footpath leads through four meadows to a retired spot known to the townspeople as Stiffun's Acre.' [Mr. Trott shuddered.] 'I shall be waiting there alone, at twenty minutes before six o'clock to-morrow morning. Should I be disappointed in seeing you there, I will do myself the pleasure of calling with a horsewhip.


'PS. There is a gunsmiths in the High-street; and they won't sell gunpowder after dark--you understand me.

'PPS. You had better not order your breakfast in the morning until you have met me. It may be an unnecessary expense.'

'Desperate-minded villain! I knew how it would be!' ejaculated the terrified Trott. 'I always told father, that once start me on this expedition, and Hunter would pursue me like the Wandering Jew. It's bad enough as it is, to marry with the old people's commands, and without the girl's consent; but what will Emily think of me, if I go down there breathless with running away from this infernal salamander? What SHALL I do? What CAN I do? If I go back to the city, I'm disgraced for ever--lose the girl--and, what's more, lose the money too. Even if I did go on to the Browns' by the coach, Hunter would be after me in a post-chaise; and if I go to this place, this Stiffun's Acre (another shudder), I'm as good as dead. I've seen him hit the man at the Pall-mall shooting-gallery, in the second button-hole of the waistcoat, five times out of every six, and when he didn't hit him there, he hit him in the head.' With this consolatory reminiscence Mr. Alexander Trott again ejaculated, 'What shall I do?'

Long and weary were his reflections, as, burying his face in his hand, he sat, ruminating on the best course to be pursued. His mental direction-post pointed to London. He thought of the 'governor's' anger, and the loss of the fortune which the paternal Brown had promised the paternal Trott his daughter should contribute to the coffers of his son. Then the words 'To Brown's' were legibly inscribed on the said direction-post, but Horace Hunter's denunciation rung in his ears;--last of all it bore, in red letters, the words, 'To Stiffun's Acre;' and then Mr. Alexander Trott decided on adopting a plan which he presently matured.

First and foremost, he despatched the under-boots to the Blue Lion and Stomach-warmer, with a gentlemanly note to Mr. Horace Hunter, intimating that he thirsted for his destruction and would do himself the pleasure of slaughtering him next morning, without fail. He then wrote another letter, and requested the attendance of the other boots--for they kept a pair. A modest knock at the room door was heard. 'Come in,' said Mr. Trott. A man thrust in a red head with one eye in it, and being again desired to 'come in,' brought in the body and the legs to which the head belonged, and a fur cap which belonged to the head.

'You are the upper-boots, I think?' inquired Mr. Trott.

'Yes, I am the upper-boots,' replied a voice from inside a velveteen case, with mother-o