“Let him alone,” said one of the more sober of the party; “he’s a poor dumb fellow—let him go.” His voice was disregarded, however, as the rest seemed bent on having some sport.
A half-hogshead, nearly filled with water, which stood upon the edge of the pavement, for the convenience of the builders who were at work next door, caught the attention of one of them.
“Let’s make him jump into this,” he exclaimed, at the same time motioning to Mr. Stevens to that effect. By dint of great effort they made him understand what was required, and they then continued to make him jump in and out of the hogshead for several minutes; then, joining hands, they danced around him, whilst he stood knee-deep in the water, shivering, and making the most imploring motions to be set at liberty.
Whilst they were thus engaged, the door again opened, and the fashionable Mr. Morton (who had been one of the guests) descended the steps, and came to see what had been productive of so much mirth.
“What have you got here?” he asked, pressing forward, until he saw the battered form of Mr. Stevens; “oh, let the poor darkey go,” he continued, compassionately, for he had just drunk enough to make him feel humane; “let the poor fellow go, it’s a shame to treat him in this manner.”
As he spoke, he endeavoured to take from the hands of one of the party a piece of chip, with which he was industriously engaged in streaking the face of Mr. Stevens with lime, “Let me alone, Morton—let me alone; I’m making a white man of him, I’m going to make him a glorious fellow-citizen, and have him run for Congress. Let me alone, I say.”
Mr. Morton was able, however, after some persuasion, to induce the young men to depart; and as his home lay in a direction opposite to theirs, he said to Mr. Stevens, “Come on, old fellow, I’ll protect you.”
As soon as they were out of hearing of the others, Mr. Stevens exclaimed, “Don’t you know me, Morton?”
Mr. Morton started back with surprise, and looked at his companion in a bewildered manner, then exclaimed, “No, I’ll be hanged if I do. Who the devil are you?”
“I’m Stevens; you know me.”
“Indeed I don’t. Who’s Stevens?”
“You don’t know me! why, I’m George Stevens, the lawyer.”
Mr. Morton thought that he now recognized the voice, and as they were passing under the lamp at the time, Mr. Stevens said to him, “Put your finger on my face, and you will soon see it is only tar.” Mr. Morton did as he was desired, and found his finger smeared with the sticky article.
“What on earth have you been doing with yourself?” he asked, with great surprise; “what is all this masquerading for?”
Mr. Stevens hereupon related his visit at Whitticar’s, and detailed the events that had subsequently occurred.
Mr. Morton gave vent to shouts of laughter as he listened to the recital of his friend. “By George!” he exclaimed, “I’ll have to tell that; it is too good to keep.”