f-pearl buttons--'that is, I'm the boots as b'longs to the house; the other man's my man, as goes errands and does odd jobs. Top-boots and half-boots, I calls us.'
'You're from London?' inquired Mr. Trott.
'Driv a cab once,' was the laconic reply.
'Why don't you drive it now?' asked Mr. Trott.
'Over-driv the cab, and driv over a 'ooman,' replied the top-boots, with brevity.
'Do you know the mayor's house?' inquired Mr. Trott.
'Rather,' replied the boots, significantly, as if he had some good reason to remember it.
'Do you think you could manage to leave a letter there?' interrogated Trott.
'Shouldn't wonder,' responded boots.
'But this letter,' said Trott, holding a deformed note with a paralytic direction in one hand, and five shillings in the other-- 'this letter is anonymous.'
'A--what?' interrupted the boots.
'Anonymous--he's not to know who it comes from.'
'Oh! I see,' responded the reg'lar, with a knowing wink, but without evincing the slightest disinclination to undertake the charge--'I see--bit o' Sving, eh?' and his one eye wandered round the room, as if in quest of a dark lantern and phosphorus-box. 'But, I say!' he continued, recalling the eye from its search, and bringing it to bear on Mr. Trott. 'I say, he's a lawyer, our mayor, and insured in the County. If you've a spite agen him, you'd better not burn his house down--blessed if I don't think it would be the greatest favour you could do him.' And he chuckled inwardly.
If Mr. Alexander Trott had been in any other situation, his first act would have been to kick the man down-stairs by deputy; or, in other words, to ring the bell, and desire the landlord to take his boots off. He contented himself, however, with doubling the fee and explaining that the letter merely related to a breach of the peace. The top-boots retired, solemnly pledged to secrecy; and Mr. Alexander Trott sat down to a fried sole, maintenon cutlet, Madeira, and sundries, with greater composure than he had experienced since the receipt of Horace Hunter's letter of defiance.
The lady who alighted from the London coach had no sooner been installed in number twenty-five, and made some alteration in her travelling-dress, than she indited a note to Joseph Overton, esquire, solicitor, and mayor of Great Winglebury, requesting his immediate attendance on private business of paramount importance--a summons which that worthy functionary lost no time in obeying; for after sundry openings of his eyes, divers ejaculations of 'Bless me!' and other manifestations of surprise, he took his broad- brimmed hat from its accustomed peg in his little front office, and walked briskly down the High-street to the Winglebury Arms; through the hall and up the staircase of which establishment he was ushered by the landlady, and a crowd of officious waiters, to the door of number twenty-five.
'Show the gentleman in,' said the stranger lady, in reply to the foremost waiter's announcement. The gentleman was shown in accordingly.
The lady rose from the sofa; the mayor advanced a step from the door; and there they both paused, for a minute or two, looking at one another as if by mutual consent. The mayor saw before him a buxom, richly-dressed female of about forty; the lady looked upon a sleek man, about ten years older, in drab shorts and continuations, black coat, neckcloth, and gloves.
'Miss Julia Manners!' exclaimed the mayor at length, 'you astonish me.'
'That's very unfair of you, Overton,' replied Miss Julia, 'for I have known you, long enough, not to be surprised at anything you do, and you might extend equal courtesy to me.'
'But to run away--actually run away--with a young man!' remonstrated the mayor.
'You wouldn't have me actually run away with an old one, I presume?' was the cool rejoinder.
'And then to ask me--me--of all people in the world--a man of my age and appearance--mayor of the town--to promote such a scheme!' pettishly ejaculated Joseph Overton; throwing himself into an arm- chair, and producing Miss Julia's letter from his pocket, as if to corroborate the assertion that he HAD been asked.