“I had left the legation, and was passing into Portland place, when, to my surprise, I was overtaken by the indomitable George, who insisted that I join him in some gin-and-bitters at the first drinking-place. To have declined George’s amiability would have been immaculate folly: he always bagged his friends, precisely as Pierce directed me to bag the ambassador. Having stopped at the first crossing, as they say in Georgia, we drunk ourselves, wished Pierce much joy with his project, and parted, George saying he would turn steam on the old man, and have him all right when I called.
“Prompt to the hour, no sooner had the allotted time expired than I presented myself at the Legation with an express wagon, for the accommodation of the old man indispensable. Corporal Noggs had got the boys all right on the continent, and such a jolly time as was expected! George had evidently been screwing up the old man, for I found him in the very best humor. There he sat, portly and venerable, surrounded by boxes, carpet-bags, and trunks; all, he assured me, containing various diplomatic implements of great value. At his feet purred the cat diplomatic, as if anxious to accompany him. ’These boxes are a great trouble to me,’ said the old man, getting up with some effort, and pointing to three, about two feet square each, and labelled as follows:—No. 1, ‘Cuba by purchase,’ below—’Copies of Correspondence with our Minister to Spain, some years ago,’ at the left corner the words—’Promiscus.’ No. 2. ’Cuba at any price’—underneath—’This side up, with care?’ No. 3. ’Cuba of necessity, and as a link in the manifest fulfilment of destiny?’—underneath—’Handled only by the experienced porter.’
“The hall now rang loud of confusion,—the fiery-eyed cat ran screaming to the door, maids’ eyes were seen wanting to weep, Prompt affected great grief,—he would be worked to death,—porters were seen carrying out the luggage, and then waited to convey the old man. Then Prompt said—the negro, as if to make the picture complete, was making all sorts of grimaces in a corner,—if Dan should by some accident return, what a deal of extra work he would make! But Smooth made up his mind that such complaints were the natural consequences of an irregular system. At last, having got boxes one, two, and three nicely cared for, we bundled in the rest of the traps, following then with the old man indispensable. Saunders being present by appointment, insisted upon his right to drive the team, and suddenly springing upon the box, seized unceremoniously the reins, and put the horses into full gallop. Increasing his speed, until it became frightful to delicate nerves, the poor old man’s fears for his safety became so excited that it required all my strength to keep him from jumping out and breaking his neck, notwithstanding I had tucked him away so nicely among the boxes before starting. Down Portland place, through Oxford