It immediately occurred to me that it was most probable that the chain had been on Fleta’s neck at the time that she was stolen from her parents, and might prove the means of her being identified. It was no common chain—apparently had been wrought by people in a state of semi-refinement. There was too little show for its value—too much sterling gold for the simple effect produced; and I very much doubted whether another like it could be found.
The next morning Fleta was too much affected at parting with me, to enter into much conversation. I asked whether she had recollected anything, and she replied, “No; that she had cried all night at the thoughts of our separation.” I cautioned her to be very careful of the chain, and I gave the same caution to the schoolmistress; and after I had left the town, I regretted that I had not taken it away, and deposited it in some place of security. I resolved to do so when I next saw Fleta; in the meantime, she would be able, perhaps, by association, to call up some passage of her infancy connected with it.
I had inquired of a gentleman who sat near me on the coach, which was the best hotel for a young man of fashion. He recommended the Piazza, in Covent Garden, and to that we accordingly repaired. I selected handsome apartments, and ordered a light supper. When the table was laid, Timothy made his appearance, in his livery, and cut a very smart, dashing figure. I dismissed the waiter, and as soon as we were alone, I burst into a fit of laughter. “Really, Timothy, this is a good farce; come, sit down, and help me to finish this bottle of wine.”
“No, sir,” replied Timothy; “with your permission, I prefer doing as the rest of my fraternity. You only leave the bottle on the sideboard, and I will steal as much as I want; but as for sitting down, that will be making too free, and if we were seen, would be, moreover, very dangerous. We must both keep up our characters. They have been plying me with all manner of questions below, as to who you were—your name, &c. I resolved that I would give you a lift in the world, and I stated that you had just arrived from making a grand tour—which is not a fib, after all—and as for your name, I said that you were at present incog.”
“But why did you make me incog.?”
“Because it may suit you so to be; and it certainly is the truth, for you don’t know your real name.”
We were here interrupted by the waiter bringing in a letter upon a salver. “Here is a letter addressed to ’I, or J.N., on his return from his tour,’ sir,” said he; “I presume it is for you?”
“You may leave it,” said I, with nonchalance.
The waiter laid the letter on the table, and retired.
“How very odd, Timothy—this letter cannot be for me; and yet they are my initials. It is as much like a J as an I. Depend upon it, it is some fellow who has just gained this intelligence below, and has written to ask for a subscription to his charity list, imagining that I am flush of money, and liberal.”