“What do you mean, sir?” gasped the Admiral. “Do you mean to say you are not the new tenant of this delightful residence?” Then the speaker waved his hand in the direction of “The Bower.”
“Certainly I am not.”
“Then, damme, sir! who are you?” cried the Admiral, whose temper was, as we know, short.
“My name is Fogo,” replied the stranger. “Here is my card—Philip Fogo—at your service.”
Even Miss Limpenny, with the first-floor window of No. 1 timidly lifted to admit the Admiral’s eloquence; even the three Misses Buzza, arranged in a row behind the parlour blinds of No. 2, and gazing with fond pride upon their papa; even Mrs. Buzza, nervously clasping her hands on the upper storey;—could not but perceive that something dreadful was happening. The Admiral’s face turned from crimson to purple; he positively choked.
The situation needed a solution. A wag among the crowd hit upon it.
“Tell th’ Admiral, some of ’ee: what day es et?”
“Fust of April!” cried a voice, then another; and then—
Then the throng broke into roar upon roar of inextinguishable laughter. The whole deluded town turned and cast its April folly, as a garment, upon the Admiral’s shoulders. It was in vain that he stamped and raved and swore. They only held their sides and laughed the louder.
The credit of Trojan humour was saved. With a final oath the Admiral dashed through his front gate and into the house. The volgus infidum formed in procession again, and marched back with shouts of merriment; the popularis aura of the five-and-twenty fifers resumed the “Conquering Hero,” and Mr. Fogo was left standing alone in the middle of the road.
OF A BLUE-JERSEYED MAN THAT WOULD HOIST NO MORE BRICKS; AND A NIGHTCAP THAT HAD NO BUSINESS TO BE WHERE IT WAS.
No one acquainted with the character of that extraordinary town will be surprised when I say that, within an hour after the occurrences related in the last chapter, Troy had resumed its workday quiet. By two o’clock nothing was to be heard but the tick-tack of mallets in the ship-building yards, the puffing of the steam-tug, the rattle of hawsers among the vessels out in the harbour, and the melodious “Woo-hoo!” of a crew at capstan or windlass. Troy in carnival and Troy sober are as opposite, you must know, as the poles. Fun is all very well, but business is business, and Troy is a trading port with a character to keep up: for who has not heard the bye-word— “Working like a Trojan”?
At two o’clock on this same day a little schooner lay alongside the town quay, busily discharging bricks. That is to say, a sunburnt man, blue-jerseyed and red with brick-dust, leisurely turned a windlass which let down an empty bucket and brought it up full. Another blue-jerseyed man, also sunburnt and red with brick-dust, then pulled it on shore, emptied and returned it; and the operation was repeated. A choleric little man, of about fifty, presumably the proprietor of the bricks, stood on the edge of the quay, and swore alternately at the man with the windlass and the man ashore.