Imatges de pàgina

didn't recognize me, and in course I didn't like to obtrude myself on your notice.”

“Why, I was certainly under the impression that your appearance was familiar to me, but I could not recollect where I had seen you."

“That was the time, sir; I heard you tell the policeman that you had only arrived in town the same evening; that's the way I knew you was only a year in London : that same swell, sir, was a very no-to-ri-ous character; you was fortunate in recovering your box, for I had known that chap nabbed three times afore for picking, and the harticles could never be kotched on him; he had some particklar way of disposing of property, that sometimes you'd think he must have swallowed it.”

“ Very likely he would have swallowed my box, but for the snuff which would be likely to disagree with him."

Wery likely,” said Ned, as the coughing would tell on him.”

“ I should suppose it was not the first time your cab was occupied by such a notorious character,” said I, with the intention of turning his observations to some other point.

“I do believe," said Ned, holding his pipe at nearly arm's length from his mouth, as if to give himself speaking room, -" I do believe that my cab was made on purpose for notorious characters, and for nobody else; if there was fifty cabs on the stand, and one a wantin' for anything uncommon, number one (that's mine) would be sure to be picked out, even if all the rest was strivin' and runin' to get before me; you heard tell, I 'spose, sir, of the Gold Dust Robbery?" I nodded affirmatively. “I was the cab, sir, as drove that.” Ned paused here, and stared me full in the face, as if to see what impression this communication would make upon me.

"Indeed !" said I, for I saw he waited for some expression on my part.

“ Fact, sir," said Ned; upon which he took a draught of the ale, smacked his lips, and continued. “ Well, it's no use in talking now, -but if my horse didn't know that all was not right, I'm a bishop;just as we were a turnin' up Bow Street, he makes a dead stand at the Police Office. What's the matter ?' says Moss, the Jew who carried off the treasure. A haccident,' said I, 'the horse has made a mistake.' It's no mistake,' says he; you're a doin' it on purpose.' And now that I think of it, I will never forget the villain's face at that moment; he turned as white as a sheet and trembled all over. Go along, Bob,' says I, touching up the horse with the whip,-Go along, Bob;' and away we started again. Well, when he saw that it was a mistake, didn't he brighten up. “That's it,' said he, drive on to Coventry Street—you have a good fare;' and, sure enough, he paid me ten shillings when I set him down. I saw no more on him until 1 was called on to give my evidence in court; but warn't it odd, sir, that my horse should stop at the door of the Police Office upon that 'ere villanous occasion.”

It was a strange coincidence, certainly,” said I.

That ere horse is a good un," continued Ned; “ clever-wery! I only wonder they didn't call him into court to give evidence."

I laughed at the idea of Ned's witness; but it would have been

difficult to persuade him that the horse did not know much more than any other horse.

" I have had him for fifteen years,” said he, “and I think if he could talk he would tell strange stories; he seems to know every body, and every place in London :- I always knows by his conduct whether I have a good or a bad fare in my cab:- Talking of bad fares, sir, who do you think I had for a drive a few days ago ?”

It would be useless for me to guess,” said I. “No less than the great Dan O'C— ll, the Hirish hagitator!” “A memorable event, certainly;" said I, with a smile.

“Exactly !” said Ned, with a significant shake of the head; “it was a memorable event, and I don't think I will forget it in a hurry; and I'll tell you the reasonw hy, sir-he never paid me! and it ain't pleasant to be done.”

After a hearty laugh at Ned's memorable mishap, I inquired of him how he had happened to meet with the misfortune.

“ Why," said he, “ as to the misfortune of it in the way of money, that's neither here nor there; I don't care about a shilling or two, or a pound, if it goes to that; but there's one thing I can't bear, -I can't bear to be done by any chap, let him be ever so clever."

Ned here finished the ale, and called to the landlord for a pint of it on his own account, saying that I should drink with him ; I opposed the proposition, reminding him that the table was mine for that evening; but he was bent upon showing me that he did not care to stand a treat at any time.

" I don't want money—but," repeated he, “ I can't bear to be done -and no one ever did me yet without having value in return."

“Then you really think that it was the intention of that great man to do you, as you term it?”

“I haven't a doubt on it, sir; he got out at the House of Commons and told me to wait. Well, I did wait, to my cost.When I had been there near an hour, one of the police says to me, 'What are you a waitin' here for?' "I'm a waitin',' says I, 'for Mr. O'C- ll.' * You are not,' says he ; 'for Mr. O'C— ll went away a quarter of an hour ago; I saw him go out of the back door,' says he, and I'll take your number, and have you fined for being off your stand.” Well, I did all I could to persuade him ; but it wouldn't do. Cabman's vord of onor goes for nothing; I was fined five shillings next day. Now, I ask you, sir, warn't that very provokin'?”

"Too bad, indeed," said I; “ but why not look after him? he might have forgotten it."

“Well, we'll say nothing about that now, sir,—we know his memory is a very convenient one; sometimes I have heard a good deal of his remembering what he likes ; but as to looking after him, I rather think he will have to look after me; for if there was not another fare in London, I wouldn't have no more to do with him ;-it's too bad that the government should be led by a man what would do a cab out of his fare. I never thought much of them Whigs, sir, but now I'm conwinced there is no confidence to be placed in them.”

2 K 2

Ned's political conclusions amused me not a little, and I was about to make some remark, when he interrupted me.

“ But I must tell you, sir, just as I was a drivin' off from the House of Commons, after the policeman had taken my number, who should come out but Sir Robert P-1: a smart shower of rain had commenced, and, as luck would have it, he called out to me to pull up Well, I was just a goin' to tell him about the policeman, and to ask him to get justice done, when it struck me that if I mentioned about O' ll bein' in the cab, he would rather be wet through than get into it; so I held my tongue, and he behaved like a gentleman to me when I set him down.”

"I hope you do not intend to class Sir Robert amongst your dotorious characters," said I.

“I mean to call him a gentleman, and a great man any way; sir; I'm only a showing you the variety my cab meets with little some of my fares can imagine who occupied it a few minutes before them. I could tell queer stories, sir, about them 'ere members of parliament, and particularly with regard to the tail.I perceived my friend Ned was getting communicative, so I encouraged him now and then with an expression of approval, and the evening was passing rapidly, impelled by the agreeable clatter of his stories, many of which, however, have escaped my memory. The pewter measure having been replenished again, and Ned having renewed his pipe-“I must tell you," said he, “ of a spree we had with the Marquis of W- : it was one night near the end of the season, at near twelve o'clock; there were about eight of us on the stand, when there was a call for a cab; mine was first, and away I ran : no sooner was I alongside the flags, than there was another cry of cab; well, the next drove up-a third was called—a fourth, and so on, until the whole eight of us were in a row drawn up along the pathway. Now, says the marquis, for it was himself, with about a dozen more young bloods,-they had been dining at one of the club houses, and were just in good order for a spree; ' First 'cab,' says he, 'your 'mine;' 'All right, my lord,' says I; 'Ho, ho,' says he, is that Black Ned?' for he knew my voice— The same, my lord.' •So much the better,' says he, get inside of your cab, Ned,' says he, * I'm goin' to give you a drive, and I won't ask you more than the fare." . Follow the leader,' cries out the rest of the gentlemen; 'come, cabmen, into your cabs, give up your whips, and make yourselves comfortable.' • Talking of comfort,' says the marquis, we'd better wet our whistles afore we begins •-'Here goes,' cries the others; `come along, cabmen:' away we went into the nearest house, and had six pen'oth of brandy all round. “Now,' says the marquis, into your cabs, gentlemen, and up on our boxes, us drivers.'—Well, we knew there was no use in opposition; so after staring at each other, as if in doubt what to do, we got quietly into our cabs, and up gets the marquis and the geutlemen on the boxes. “Ready in the rear?' shouted the marquis; • All right behind,' answered the last cab. Now,' says the marquis, * remember you're to follow the leader, if I drive through the House of Lords or Buckingham Palace, you must follow me-here goes-20 along,-crack went the whips, and away we all rattled up the Hay. market; well, just at the corner of one of the courts, we heard the

music of a couple of fiddles. ·Halt ! shouted the marquis, pulling suddenly up, at the risk of sending the shafts of the hinder cabs through the backs of tbe foremost ; ‘Halt!' said he, • a little music will enliven us on the way ;' so he shouted out for the fiddles; he was not long making terms with them, and one sat up on the first cab, and the other on the last, “ Play up “ All round my Hat,” shouted the marquis,' and away we went again at a rattling pace, to that wery popular hair. Well, the people couldn't tell what in the name of wonder was the matter; some stared with their mouths open, some shouted after us, and now and then you might see a window thrown up, and a pight-capped head popped out to see what was in the wind. Follow the leader,-right shoulders forward,' says the marquis, and away he darts up on the pathway, and round a lamp-post in Regent Street; it was a wonder the police didn't see us, but not a word was said ; it only drew a scream from an old woman who thought she was goin' to be run over, but the marquis is a good driver, and could skim a soap bubble in a full gallop without breaking it. On we goes again,' says he, when the last cab was clear of the post. Well, after going through a great many private, quiet streets-shouting and bawling, and the fiddles squeaking, to astonish the natives,' as the marquis said, (and sure enough they must be astonished), we drove up the Strand. When we came to Wellington Street — Come,' says the marquis, “I'll show you how to get seven cabs out of eight through a toll-gate without paying;' and sure enough he did it-I'll tell you how. • Last cab,' says he, keep about thirty yards behind the rest-all right,'— well, away he drove, at full gallop towards the toll at Waterloo Bridge; when he saw the keeper coming out to stop us, he shouted out, It's all right, the last cab will pay for all.' Very well,' says the man : seven of us went through, and before the last cab got well up to the gate, we were at the other side of the bridge,- I could just hear the keeper shouting away to try and have us stopped, but it was no use-away we went, round by the York Road, over Westminster Bridge, up by Whitehall, and back to the Haymarket, where we pulled up all hot and smoking, and where we found the last cab a waitin' for us: he told us how the toll-keeper wanted to detain him, but that he got off after a bit of a row, and drove back to meet us. Well, by way of a * loyal wind up,' as the marquis said, he made the fiddlers play up God Save the Queen, and after a handsome settlement and another round of brandy, we left the marquis and his companions, just in humour for going on another spree.”

“You certainly had some hair-breadth 'scapes," said I, when he had concluded; “I only wonder you were not all taken off by the police."

“Why you see, sir, we didn't give the police time to consider what was the matter,--so that it was not their fault.”

"The marquis is a droll gent,” said I; “ he should begin to think of sowing his wild oats."

“Oh, he'll be all right yet, sir,- he has a good heart, and wouldn't hurt a child. If he thinks he has injured any one in the course of a lark, he always makes them full amends afterwards."

“ That,” said I, “is a redeeming trait of character. I only hope he will not injure himself, -suppose we drink his health."

“That I will,” said Ned, and accordingly we toasted the marquis in a quaff of ale. Afterwards, Ned continued to smoke his pipe.

“How comes it,” said I, “ that you are not attending to your cab this evening ?" Ned quickly drew the pipe from his mouth, puffed out the smoke, and raised his finger before his mouth, as if to impose silence, then looking from out our box to see if any one was within hearing, he drew slowly back, and leaning towards me with his arms on the table

“You'll be mum?” said he.
“Certainly, if you require it."

“ I had to send it,” continued he, lowering his voice,—" I had to send it to get new lining."

“ But what's the mystery ?” said I.

“ The old lining,” said he, speaking scarcely above his breath, "has been steeped in human blood.” • “Mercy!” said I, giving an involuntary start, “ what do you mean?

• Hush !" continued he,“ listen, -you have read, no doubt, in this morning's papers of a dreadful suicide committed on Monday last in a cab—the inquest was held yesterday?”.

“ I heard something about it," said I, “but have not read the


" It was in my cab,” whispered Ned; “G-d forbid I should ever witness the like again :" here he pressed his hands over his eyes, as if in agony at the idea of it,- it was a dreadful night altogether ;-how it did rain and thunder, for all the world as if the elements knew what was going forward.”

“ You say the inquest was held yesterday?"

“Yes, sir; I was examined; I will read you the report." By this time the house was nearly clear of persons, and Ned drew a well used newspaper from his pocket, and read as follows, from the Morning Advertiser :

“ DREADFUL SUICIDE. “On Tuesday last, an inquest was held at the • Boar's Head' Tavern, upon the body of a man of about forty-five years of age, whose dress and appearance were evidently those of a person of some rank; but no trace as to his name or family could be discovered ; he put an end to his life in a cab on Monday night, under the following extraordinary circumstances,—no cause can be assigned for so desperate an act.

“Edward Jerrold, commonly called Black Ned, a cab driver, stated, . That on Monday night last, he left a gentleman in Cheapside from the theatre, and was returning to his stand, Charles Street, Covent Garden, when, on passing through Temple Bar, he was called to by a gentleman who appeared to be sheltering from the rain, at the entrance of Bell Yard; he pulled up, and deceased entered the cab; he appeared to be perfectly sober; but when he, cabman, inquired

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