“Oh, no, don’t,” said Mr. Stevens; “that won’t do—you forget what I came out for?”
“True,” rejoined Mr. Morton; “I suppose it will be best to keep mum about it. I’ll go home with you, you might fall into the hands of the Philistines again.”
“Thank you—thank you,” replied Mr. Stevens, who felt greatly relieved to have some company for his further protection; “and,” continued he, “if I could only get some of this infernal stuff off my face, I should be so glad; let us try.”
Accordingly they stopped at the nearest pump, and endeavoured to remove some of the obnoxious tar from his face; but, unfortunately, the only result obtained by their efforts was to rub it more thoroughly in, so they were compelled to give up in despair, and hasten onward.
Mr. Stevens rang so loudly at the door, as to quite startle his wife and the charity-girl, both of whom had fallen into a sound sleep, as they sat together awaiting his return. Mr. Morton, who, as we have said before, was not entirely sober, was singing a popular melody, and keeping time upon the door with the head of his cane. Now, in all her life, Mrs. Stevens had never heard her husband utter a note, and being greatly frightened at the unusual noise upon the door-step, held a hurried consultation with the charity-girl upon the best mode of proceeding.
“Call through the key-hole, ma’am,” suggested she, which advice Mrs. Stevens immediately followed, and inquired, “Who’s there?”
“Open the door, Jule, don’t keep me out here with your darned nonsense; let me in quick.”
“Yes, let him in,” added Mr. Morton; “he’s brought a gentleman from Africa with him.”
Mrs. Stevens did not exactly catch the purport of the words uttered by Mr. Morton; and, therefore, when she opened the door, and her husband, with his well-blacked face, stalked into the entry, she could not repress a scream of fright at the hideous figure he presented.
“Hush, hush,” he exclaimed, “don’t arouse the neighbours—it’s me; don’t you know my voice.”
Mrs. Stevens stared at him in a bewildered manner, and after bidding Mr. Morton “Good night,” she closed and locked the door, and followed her husband into the back room. In a short time he recapitulated the events of the night to his astonished and indignant spouse, who greatly commiserated his misfortunes. A bottle of sweet oil was brought into requisition, and she made a lengthened effort to remove the tar from her husband’s face, in which she only partially succeeded; and it was almost day when he crawled off to bed, with the skin half scraped off from his swollen face.