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facto, condemned as the supernumerary man before his trial commenced.
The company was now divided into two great classes, those who had a marriage garment, and the unfortunate giant who had none. So much was clear; but, to make further discoveries, the host now stepped up to him hastily and said, “Your name, if you please?”
The masque stood as mute, as tall, and as immovable as the gable end of a house. “ Your name?” repeated Mr. Goodchild; “I'll trouble you for your name?” No answer coming, a cold shivering seized upon Mr. Goodchild. In fact, at this moment a story came across him from his childish years, that, when Dr. Faustus was played, it had sometimes happened that amongst the stage devils there was suddenly observed to be one too many, and the supernumerary one was found to be no spurious devil, but a true, sound, and legitimate devil.
For the third time, while his teeth chattered, he said, “ Your name, if
you please ?” “I have none,” said Mr. Tempest, in so hollow a voice, that the heart of the worthy merchant sunk down in a moment to his knee-buckles, and an ice-wind of panic began to blow pretty freshly through the whole company.
“ Your face, then, if you please, sir?” stammered out Mr. Goodchild.
Very slowly and unwillingly the masque, being thus importunately besieged, proceeded to comply; but scarcely had he unmasqued and exposed the death's head, when every soul ran out of the room with an outcry of horror.
The masque sprang after them, 'bounding like a greyhound, and his grinning skull nodding as he moved. This he did under pretence of pursuing them, but in fact to take advantage of the general panic for making his exit.
CHAPTER XI X.
The Parting Kiss.
Miss Goodchild in the Arms of Death.
In an anteroom, now totally deserted, Death was met by Ida, who said to him, “Ah! for God's sake make your escape. Oh! if you did but know what anxiety I have suffered on account of your strange conceit.” Here she paused, and spite of her anxiety she could not forbear smiling at the thought of the sudden coup-de-théâtre by which Mr. Tempest had turned the tables upon every soul that had previously been enjoying his panic. In the twinkling of an eye he had inflicted a far deeper panic upon them, and she herself had been passed by the whole herd of fugitives, — tall and short, corpulent and lanky, halt and lame, young and old, -all spinning away with equal energy before the face of the supernumerary guest.
Death, in return, told Ida how he had been an eyewitness to the game of questions and commands, and to the letting down of the 'curtains. This spectacle (he acknowledged) had so tortured him, that he could stand it no longer, and he had sworn within himself that he would have a kiss as well as other persons; and further, that he would go and fetch it himself from the midst of the masquerade, though not expecting to have been detected as the extra passenger or nip.* And surely, when a whole company had tasted the ambrosia of her lips, Miss Goodchild would not be so unkind as to dismiss him alone without that happiness.
No, Miss Goodchild was not so unkind; and Death was just in the act of applying his lips to the rosy mouth of Ida, when old Goodchild came peeping in at the door
* In England, passengers who are taken up on stage-coaches by the collusion of the guard and coachman, without the knowledge of the proprietors, are called nips.
to see if the coast was clear of the dreadful masque, and behind him was a train of guests, all stepping gently and on tiptoe from an adjoining corridor.
Every soul was petrified with astonishment on seeing the young, warm-breathing Ida on such close and apparently friendly terms with the black gigantic Death, whose skull was grinning just right above the youthful pair, and surmounting them like a crest. At this sight all became plain, and the courage of the company, which had so recently sunk below the freezing point, suddenly rose at once above boiling heat. Mr. Goodchild levelled a blow at the Death's head which had caused him so much pain and agitation; and Mr. Tempest, seeing that no better course remained, made off for the front door; and thus the uninvited masque, who had so lately chased and ejected the whole body of the invited ones, was in turn chased and ejected by them.
The festivities had been too violently interrupted to be now resumed; the guests took leave, and the weeping Ida was banished to a close confinement in her own room.
CHAPTER X X.
Here ends our episode. It was on the very morning after this fracas that Mr. Whelp waited upon Mr. Goodchild, to report to him the universal opinion of the world upon the bust of the late stamp-distributor, his brother; and upon that opinion to ground an appeal to his justice.
A worse season for his visit he could not possibly have chosen. Mr. Goodchild stormed, and said, “The case had been tried and disposed of; and he must insist on being troubled with no further explanations.” And so far did his anger make him forget the common courtesies of life, that he never asked the proprietor of the china
works to sit down. Mr. Whelp, on his part, no less astonished and irritated at such treatment, inquired of the footman, what was the matter with his master; and the footman, who was going away, and was reckless of consequences, repeated the whole history of the preceding night with fits of laughter; and added, that the sport was not yet over, for that this morning a brisk correspondence had commenced between his master and Mr. Tempest, which, by the effect produced on the manners of both, seemed by no means of the gentlest nature.
The King of Hayti.
This account was particularly agreeable to Mr Whelp. Concluding that, under the present circumstances, Mr. Tempest would naturally be an excellent counsellor against Mr. Goodchild, he hastened over to his apartments; and said that, his last effort to bring the merchant over the way to any reasonable temper of mind having utterly failed, he had now another scheme. But first of all he wished to have the professional opinion of Mr. Tempest, whether he should lay himself open to an action if he took the following course to reimburse himself the expenses of the three dozen of busts : - He had been told by some Englishman, whose name he could not at this moment call to mind, that the bust of the stamp-master was a most striking likeness of Christophe, the black King of Hayti: now this being the case, what he proposed to do was to wash over the late stamp-distributor with a black varnish, and to export one dozen and a half of the distributor on speculation to St. Domingo, keeping the rest for home consumption.
When Mr. Tempest heard this plan stated, in spite of
his own disturbance of mind at the adventures of the last night, he could not forbear laughing heartily at the conceit; for he well knew what was the real scheme which lurked under this pretended exportation to St. Domingo. Some little time back, Mr. Goodchild had addressed to the German people, through the General Advertiser, this question:-“How or whence it came about that, in so many newspapers of late days, mention had been made of a kingdom of Hayti, when it was notorious to everybody that the island in question was properly called St. Domingo?” He therefore exhorted all editors of political journals to return to more correct principles. On the same occasion he had allowed himself many very disrespectful expressions against "a certain black fellow who pretended to be King of Hayti;” so that it might readily be judged that it would not be a matter of indifference to him if his late brother the stamp-master were sold under the name of King of Hayti.
The barrister's opinion was, that as the heir of the bespeaker had solemnly deposed to the non-resemblance of the busts, and had on this ground found means to liberate himself from all obligation to take them or to pay for them, those busts had reverted in full property to the china-works. However, he advised Mr. Whelp to blacken only one of them for the present, to place it in the same window where one had stood before, and then to await the issue.
A week after this, the bust of the stamp-distributor, with the hair and face blackened, was placed in the window; and below it was written, in gilt letters, “His most excellent Majesty, the King of Hayti.”