Lost and Found
One can appreciate fully the misery of losing a husband in the unknown wilderness of the streets of New York, without having previously experienced the misery of being the very shyest person in all the uncomfortable world.
Half-way across the continent, and travelling night and day, would have been enough to fatigue Hercules himself, who never had any such labors to perform among all his famous dozen ; and we were about as weary of jar and joggle and tumult as one would think the round globe itself should be at this point of time. However, the earth never stops to rest in her rolling, and why should we ? We must follow her example and despatch on a smaller scale, and go straight through to Canada that night.
It might be supposed that so long a journey, and a winter’s residence in one of the gayest of gay cities, would have overcome in great measure the painful diffidence of a retiring nature ; but, on the contrary, it had only intensified it, — every fresh approaching face had become a fresh agony, every introduction had assumed as dreadful a guise as a death-warrant, and instead of gaining courage or chic, or the aplomb of a woman of the world, I had gradually acquired the habit of hiding under my thick veil, and wishing for nothing but the cap of invisibility.
This sad shyness was, and is, the curse of my existence ; it put me from the beginning under the feet of servants ; I took what waiters chose to bring me, and never grumbled ; I hardly ever went out without the tacit permission of my chambermaid ; I walked a mile rather than ask my way of the next person ; in the cars I alternated between comfort and distress with my ticket, according to the exit or entrance of the conductor ; and as for hackmen, they drove me to distraction, — I have seen my friend pay one at the door with my own eyes, but have unhesitatingly paid him over again, on his stout asseveration that nothing of the kind had ever taken place. I have been considerately requested by another to alight at the foot of Somerset Street, in a sister city, as his horses could not conveniently climb the hill, and have remunerated him with a full fare, obeyed his wish, and modestly climbed the hill myself; and I never knew the time when I seemed to be rolling along luxuriously in my private coach, that the wretch of a driver did not take a short cut down some back slum, and destroy the illusion by inviting upon the box a comrade in shirt-sleeves, — which can be the appropriate livery of nobody but bishops, and I am not a bishop. Taking the total of so much shyness, it is evident that I am not exactly the person to lose a husband in a labyrinth with which I am utterly unacquainted, and to whose mazes I have not the slightest clew, with any hope of finding him again.
However, all this is mere digression.
I lived, be it known, through the ordeal of the splendid hotel upholstery and mirrors, designed especially to put you out of countenance, endured the breakfast at the Fifth Avenue, and the impertinent staring of my vis-à-vis; furthermore, survived several stately calls, and at last sallied forth for my purchases and the boat, safe in my husband’s escort.
I had with me only my travelling-bag ; for it had seemed unnecessary on the previous night to bring all our luggage up to the hotel, — big trunk, little trunk, bandbox, and bundle. Do not, I beg you, imagine that all the contents of the chests and portmanteaus were vanities of mine ; indeed, lace and linen, bonnet and bernouse, filled one little trunk alone ; the rest belonged to Charlie, every inch of them. And what was there in them ? Why, — newspapers. I knew you would not believe me, yet I assure you again that their contents were nothing but newspapers. All the way from Omaha, from St. Louis, from Chicago, from Cincinnati, from Baltimore, — nothing but newspapers ; after every stay in every town a new trunk appeared, and in its recesses were filed away the invaluable newspapers, — Chicago Tomahawks, and La Crosse What-is-its, and Baltimore ButcherBlades, and Congressional Chesterfields,— the contemporary records of the time, Charlie said, which no student of history could spare. These, accordingly, were left in the baggage-room at the station, in one of those spasms of economy that always prove more expensive in the end, and now they were to be expressed across the city to the boat, and there was very little time to do it.
“ We never can have any peace about your shopping with such a weight on our minds as all that luggage,” said Charlie. “ I think that had best be attended to first.”
“Not at all,” I answered, not feeling the possible loss of the trunks to be complete ruin ; “ for if we once go down there we never shall come back, and there are all our presents to buy.”
“Well, then, you had best do the buying, my love, and I will do the luggage.”
“Me ? "I exclaimed, in a consternation.
“ Yes. Why not ? ”
“But you know I always make somebody buy for me. I can’t beat the creatures down ; and they clap on the pinnacle of prices the moment they lay eyes on my face.”
“Well, — it will be a good lesson to you. Early exercises in bargains. I don’t see anything else to be done.”
“ But what ? ”
“ But for me to take a stage down to the station, — it is an hour’s ride, — and for you to saunter down Broadway.”
“What — without you ? ”
“Why, certainly; they don’t murder in open daylight on Broadway.”
“ But I don’t know my way.”
“ You won’t have to find your way. You have only to keep straight on. Do be strong-minded for once. Make your purchases, and wait for me at the corner — ”
“ Wait in the street ? ”
“ Yes -, it makes no difference, where nobody knows you. Wait for me at the corner opposite City Hall Park, — you remember that place ? ’
“ Ye-es. We passed it last night. Yes, I should know it if I saw it. And keep straight ahead till I reach there, you said?” with a cold perspiration, which I said nothing about.
“Yes, and wait on the Astor House corner. I will attend to the trunks and then saunter up Broadway till I meet you, or you might go to Delmonico’s.”
“ O no indeed, — I don’t know where it is, — I never should find it, — I had rather not! O no indeed, I will wait for you on the corner opposite City Hall Park. I will certainly wait there.”
“Very well. I will find you there. Don't be afraid now. Give me your travelling-bag, I will lock it up in the state-room.”
“Will it be safe there? It has all my precious manuscript in it,” — alas, I am literary !—“ absolutely promised for next week, and if it is lost I shall be undone.”
“ Pshaw ! Perfectly safe ; it is n’t sensational enough to explode the steamboat at the wharf, — is it ? Want any money?” And then Mr. Charlie put his hand in his pocket, and drew it out as if he had burned it, — the place was empty ! His pocket-book apparently had been afraid it should be left behind, and had taken French leave.
Charlie always receives the inevitable with a good grace. “ I have been robbed,” said he. “ About as bad a predicament — I must make haste and leave word at the Central Police Office, or whatever they call it here. Don’t know as it is of any use, — all thieves together. However, we must spring round now, for we’ve no money to stay another night in the city. That’s a-pretty scrape, with two dividends waiting for us at home.”
“ Can’t you borrow ? ”
“ Don't know a soul in New York. No matter ; our passage is paid, and I’ve change enough in my waistcoat pocket for the stages.”
“ But you can have this back.”
“ O no ! The presents must be bought ; we go straight through, and don’t see another store, as you may say, after we leave Broadway, and the girls will expect them, of course. Good by, — straight ahead, — saunter slowly, — and wait at the corner opposite City Hall Park.”
“ City Flail Park,” said I. And he seized my bag, hailed a stage, and was out of sight.
Protected by my husband, how brave and strong I had felt, defying the great whirlpool of the metropolis and all its terrors ! but now suddenly I shrunk up into myself like a sea-anemone; and all the careless crowd, brushing by me, gave me a sensation as if I were being pricked by so many bristles.
This was Broadway then ! There would be temptations ; things in the windows ! Now I would not be a fool, but would show myself fit to live in the world. And in that spirit I threw up my veil, adjusted my eye-glasses satisfactorily, — alas, I am nearsighted ! — and commenced my sauntering.
My purse was firmly grasped, — I never trust my purse out of my hands, — it contained our little all, for the present, and demanded a share of my attention. I made no purchases yet; but, as I strolled along, kept waiting for the splendid windows to come into sight. Somebody had told me if I wanted to get cheap things to go to Sixth Avenue ; but that had been out of the question on account of the want of time, and, if the things were dearer on Broadway, they were probably all the prettier. But either my glasses were poor or this was not Broadway, for the ideally lovely things that I expected failed to present themselves. Nevertheless, I continued my ramble, trusting to rumor, and not venturing inside any doors because fancying that I should certainly see the desired display behind glass a little farther down town.
All at once a mass of granite and scaffolding across the way began to loom into view; a sort of spire beyond ; an iron railing and ballads hanging over it, — the new Post Office probably, that I had read was in process of erection, — Great Heavens, this was City Hall Park !
To this day I do not know whether Broadway goes any farther, that was and is the end of it to me. I dared not stir a step beyond; and here I was at the end of my tether, and not a present bought, and there were all those gaping girls at home, each expecting, without doubt, some lovely memento of my journey, which I also desired that they should have. There was a glittering window at my right hand now; it belonged to a jewelry establishment; in desperation I plunged within, — and lighted on a locket.
“ Forty-five dollars.”
Goodness ! And I had but thirty.
“ This one ? ”
“ And that ? ”
There were others at twenty-two, eighteen, ten, six, five, but they were the very canaille of lockets, — and the first one was such a piece of perfection. Suddenly a locket became the one desirable thing in all the treasures of a jeweller. What was the difference between the forty-five-dollar one and the forty ? The young man hardly knew, — some trifle of workmanship he presumed. It grew upon me like a fungus, as I looked at the case, and nothing else would catch my eye, that I must have that locket, — it was such a beauty, such beaten, burnished, golden gold ; such chasing and enamelling, such a charming initial in tiny diamonds, which was the very thing. I already saw it hanging on Eleanor’s white throat,no toilet could be complete without it. What was the very lowest — vox hæsit, but I overcame — at which either of the first two could be had? The young man hardly knew again, —looked at me, — at the lockets. Which did I wish to purchase ? he would like to know.
I should like to purchase this one ; but I could by no means give forty-five dollars. Still he did n’t know. Could n’t he find out ? Would he inquire if there could be any abatement in the price, as I was in a hurry ? With that he summoned a messenger, and despatched him and the locket to the cavernous back part of the store ; and, in the absence of the cynosure, a great gray gentleman in gold spectacles, who seemed to be made of lockets, and who, as I heard another customer remark, “bossed round promiscuous,” inquired, in a sweetly paternal way, if I were finding the article that I desired. I gave him to understand that the article was all right as soon as the price was, and by that time the locket had returned, the great gray gentleman had covered successfully the dialogue between my dapper young man and his messenger, and the young man politely requested to know how much I would be willing to pay.
It was certainly not my business to fix prices, so I summoned all my courage, and said I should be willing to pay as little as possible. And then, as he still seemed desirous that I should name my figure, I put a bold face on the matter, and said twenty-five dollars.
The young man made a movement to replace it in the case, but paused halfway. “ That is not to be thought of,” said he, rapidly. “I could n’t listen to such a proposition ; it really cost us nearly twice that; we are selling at a discount as it is. I should be glad to accommodate you, but, indeed, we might as well give it away.”
“Very well,” I remarked, finding the beating - down business not so tremendous after all. “ But you are willing to take something less apparently. Please say what, for I am in a hurry, as I said.”
“If you take it at forty dollars we shall lose — ”
“ Then I will not be the means of your losing. I cannot give forty for it,”and I began to give it up.
“ But indeed, madam, it is cheap at that,” said he, glibly ; “ eighteen carat gold, Viennese workmanship, and the diamonds real. If you can find any at a less price in the city, we shall be glad to get them ourselves.”
“A friend of mine had one much like this,” I said, in a last effort, “and gave but twenty-five dollars for it. I don’t think this is worth any more, but I am in haste, and will give you thirty.”
“ Will you have it in a box ? ” said he.
“ No ; I will take it here in my purse,” I answered mechanically, in astonishment; and before I recovered from my amazement and self-congratulation the money was paid, the locket was in my purse, and I in the street.
No miser, no discoverer, ever felt better pleased; but meanwhile the locket was the only thing in my purse except a card, —and Alice’s, Maud’s, Susie’s, and Georgie’s presents had vanished into thin air.
In the street once again, I felt better than I had felt before; my skirmish with the shopman had rather inspirited me ; indignation at the forty-five dollars demanded, and desire of the locket, and finally pleasure over the victory, had put my shyness momentarily out of sight, and I found it quite possible to ask an apple-woman if this was City Hall Park, to make certain.
“ Faix an’ it was,” she assured me, — “what there was left of it.”
I looked along the length of the crowded street before me, penetrating it well as eye-glasses would, but no Charlie rewarded my gaze ; however, he must be there presently, and I could wait; so I waited, a quarter, a half hour, and still no Charlie. And then it rushed over me that perhaps he had already been there before me, had grown tired, in his masculine impatience, and had begun sauntering up to meet me. In that case we should never meet, unless I took to sauntering again in my own precisely opposite direction, and we both lived long enough to turn up in China. I stood there bewildered, in a perplexity out of which the only thing that became clear was an anathematizing of the locket; and then I began to bethink me if this were the right corner or not, for I saw that there were half a dozen corners that might all claim to be opposite City Hall Park ; but this seemed to be the last, and I thought it safest to assume that it was the appointed one.
I waited there till I knew exactly how my own little pony felt when she had stood three days in her stall, — and still no Charlie. There was a bitter wind blowing, the sky was overcast, all the world was hurrying by,—and still no Charlie. Had he really passed the store I was in, and gone up the street to find me ? Had I best turn about and follow? or would he go all the way to the Fifth Avenue again, and then retrace his steps till he found me ? It always made him ill to walk, and made me ill to stand ; we should be in a nice condition to continue our journey that night. Nevertheless, there was no safety in deserting my post, — then I should never find him. All I could do was to remain where I was ; and so I waited, — long enough for him to have gone up to the Fifth Avenue and back half a dozen times, — and still no signs of him. What did it mean ? I then began to ask myself. Something must have happened, — what could it be ? He must really be in some great trouble to leave me so; he never would in the world if he could help it; and I could not go to him. I was getting worried beyond expression, and so tired that I would have given the locket itself for a seat.
Meanwhile the crowd was still surging up and down, jostling and pushing, hastening and lingering, old and young, little and great, men and women, and every one had an eye to spare, it seemed, for me. Suddenly I remembered the New York Herald, and the first left-hand corner of it. It was only the day before that, unfolding it in the cars, I said, laughingly, to my husband, “ Let me see if anybody has answered my Personal yet,” and he had replied in disgust, “ Don’t speak of the things! ” Now, if there is anything on which I pride myself, it is my stanch respectability, — a word and a thing dear to my heart of hearts ; if I am nobody myself, there are my ancestors ! And it is not difficult to realize how my sense of possession staggered as I began to feel that every soul that saw me knew I had been standing there a long hour and a half waiting for a gentleman; each glance that each new passer gave seemed to be more curious than the last. I put down my veil in self-defence, but threw it up again in fear, lest I should miss seeing Charlie, or his eye should fail to catch sight of me by reason of its obstruction ; I grew mortally sure that every man that passed me took me for one of the miserable women of the Personals. I was faint with the idea; moreover, my back ached so with standing, that I was faint in reality. What else could they think of this despairing-looking woman in black, with the limp white lace scarf and the draggled curls, — alas, my hair curls ! Is it not Thackeray who says every woman with a nez retroussé dresses her hair in curls to make herself as much as may be resemble a King Charles spaniel ? and already in the raw east wind I knew my nose was as pink as a poodle’s and as cold as a healthy puppy’s, — horrible comparisons ! Or, if they did not think that,—but they did, I knew they did, — they must think that I was set there to perform some public penance ; and what dreadful sin must they think I had committed to deserve such a penance as this !
A little flower-girl came along with her last bouquet, and saluted me with her petition and her poverty, begging me to buy the flowers that she might go home,—-they were fuchsias and Parma violets, and one bursting rose, — they would have been a real consolation to me. I had some loose coppers in my pocket, but I dared not spend them, lest I might want them in the night for a roll; so the child went her way, and I could not find it in my heart to pity her, she was so much better off than I; she had a home to go to. The tears began to well slowly into my eyes ; they only added to my distress, as I was conscious how they increased my forlorn appearance. I blushed and tingled with fresh access of mortification ; I saw my dear respectability becoming small by degrees and beautifully less. If I had really been keeping an improper appointment, I could not have endured the agony of that long hour. The little urchins, who tossed down their pennies, and took dirty slices of swimming pineapple from the candystand behind the lamp-post at my side, hit me right and left with insulting impunity. I would have given almost the whole creation, had it been mine to give, to dare to lean against that lamppost. Meanwhile a burly policeman eyed me, and I expected momentarily that he would tell me to move on,— and where in the world was I to move to ? The sense of irretrievable disgrace was fastening upon me with fearmi fangs,—still no Charlie.
When one’s circumstances become a matter of breathless importance to one’s self, it is the most natural thing to believe them of equal importance to everybody else. I was sure that the great gray gentleman in gold spectacles, and the dapper young man, who could plainly see me from their window, must wonder where my haste and hurry had gone. I looked across the street, and down the side street, and then this way and that, in the intricacies of the moving throng of the pavement, —far, far off, what was the appalling sight I saw? An umbrella ! Ah, was it really raining down there ? or was it some prim piece of precision only afraid of the dampness on her finery? Would I ever see, in all that forest of hats, the broad brim of Charlie’s again ? Had he possibly been meditating the awful deed for days, and, leaving me, gone to commit suicide ? or had I been deceiving myself with my happiness for years, and had he taken this way to rid himself of me ? I cannot endure a great deal, I was afraid I was growing crazy.
How astonishingly small all the men’s hats were, — little roly-poly things, never a generous turn among them,— not one sign of Charlie’s !
The umbrella had drawn nearer and had passed me. Yes, there really was a heavy dampness, a sort of settling moisture ; well, I would n’t mind that, of course, — though assuredly it would spoil my crape. But now it was a decided falling mist, a slow drizzle, — other umbrellas, — a woman running, — rain, real downright rain, no shower, but the regular beginning of a three days’ easterly storm. What was I to do, where was I to go ? I dared not take refuge in a shop, — for would Charlie be able to go into all the shops of Broadway to look for his wife ? would it even occur to him at all ? and was there any possibility of his hitting upon the right one, and would they not all be closed before he could make the tour of half their number ? Down plunged the rain ; I should certainly be arrested presently for an insane vagrant. I went and stood under an awning; the man came out and took the awning down. Then I was in despair. Where, where, where should I go ?
At this crisis of my affairs I recollected that something had been said about Delmonico’s. If I found the lace. If I went there, would Charlie ever remember it? — be was such a forgetful fellow ; he never would, I was morally sure, but it was the only thing there was left for me to do. I summoned my courage, — she could but refuse,—and ran to my apple-woman, and asked her if a gentleman with gray eyes and a black coat, I meant with a gray coat and black eyes, — I did n’t know what I meant, — questioned her about a lady looking like me, would she tell him I had gone to Delmonico’s ? And then I cried.
“ Nicer bother a bit about it, begorra ! ” she replied. “ Sure an’ I wull. An’ if I’m not by meself, alanna, there’s my ould man ’ll do ye the good turn.”
Blessed race with their blarney ! They forget all about you the moment your back is turned, but for the time being how they encourage you ! The woman who has not a sympathetic Irish girl in her kitchen wants one of the greatest blessings in life.
Quite cheered, I added a second request. Could she tell me where Delmonico’s was ?
“ I can’t that. Hi, Michael, — two cents yer honor, thanking ye kindly, — whereabouts this Delumiker’s is, — the ’tel ? ”
Michael gave me the direction ; I gave him some pennies, and many thanks, and turned back, following Broadway up to the corner of Chambers Street. Still the thought haunted me, Would Charlie dream of going to Delmonico’s for me ? If I dared accost a policeman ! There eras one, but he looked so terrible; yet he could but kill me, and for what I saw I should have to pass the night in a station, or else die a natural death, as it was. I paused in my rapid walk, and then stepped up to him deferentially,—guardian of our manners, our morals, and our peace. “Is this your beat, sir?” I asked, timidly.
He looked down at me like Gog and Magog and Memphremagog, — if that was the third giant’s name, — but made me no reply. I had a nervous idea that he grasped his cudgel, — a handsome one it was, as if it were more agreeable to people to have their brains beaten out with rosewood, — grasped it more inflexibly; and I hastened to add, before he could use it, “ I mean, do you stay here, whether it rains or not ? ”
“ I do,” said he, his whole face slowly opening in surprise till, like a dissolving view, it became another man’s.
“ Then, sir, will you do me the kindness,” I said, tremblingly, “if a gentleman inquires of you concerning a lady of my description, to tell him that I have gone to Delmonico’s ?” And with that it rushed over me, in a burning torrent again, that he must take me for one of those horrid women of the assignations in the Personals, and would decide that his duty allowed him to further no such bad business; there was nothing for it but to bestow my confidence upon him, and I broke out with the exclamation: “It is my husband, sir; and I am a stranger in town, and do not know my way; and I have lost him, and we are to leave to-night, and the boat goes at five,” and it was too much for me, and then I cried again.
“ I 'll tell him,” said he. And straightway I felt as if I had one protector, and could have embraced him on the spot. But I restrained my feelings, and meekly hurried to my destination.
I had always thought Delmonico’s was on Broadway ; there were two, I knew, and this must be the down-town one; but when I reached the designated place, no such place was to be found. I looked about me, and, at a short distance down Chambers Street a little modest sign caught my eye. Could that be the great and mighty Delmonico’s? How was I to know? Must I have the misery of addressing another stranger, — could this one tell me where I should find the ladies’ entrance to Delmonico’s ?
“ Could n't raally,” was the response, as the individual resumed his whistle, and passed on with his hands in his tan-colored pockets, leaving me only the satisfaction of knowing that the rain was sousing him as wet as I was.
However, I made for the modest sign, pushed open the door, ran up the stairs, and looked into the great room ; peradventure — the wild thought flashed over me — Charlie had given up the search and come here to wait for me;
I looked in, I say; saw a different place, at first glance, from Welcker’s or from Parker’s, but no Charlie. I made bold enough to ask the gentleman at the desk if this were the ladies’ dininghall, and had no doubt of his surprise at seeing me, on his answering in the affirmative, leave the place as if I had been shot. I dared not stay up there in any one of those enticing seats, I must go down and wait in the open porch, thence looking up and numbering all that passed the head of the street; and, being seen of them, I could thus see all the people still who passed along Broadway, and, if Charlie were among them, I should certainly see him, and he might possibly see me. Still 1 waited and watched, and still he did not come. My glasses were so blurred with the continual pattering of the rain that I hardly trusted them any longer. If I could find a messenger now, I would send up to the Fifth Avenue, and have word left there as to my whereabouts; but nobody passed that looked at all as if an errand would be an object. What a decent and wellclothed set of people frequent Chambers Street! not a ragged one among them all. At last a boy with holes in his shoes — what delightful holes, shoes handsomer than Cinderella' s ! —shuffled by. I hailed him, forgetful of everything but my absolute necessities. Would he do me an errand ?
“ Where to ? ”
“The Fifth Avenue.”
“No indeed,” with a fiendish little laugh.
“ But I will pay you.”
“ Don’t want your pay.” And he too went by on the other side.
Everybody hurried along, everybody had somewhere to hurry to. I remembered my gay friends of the morning, sitting now in their elegant dresses with attentive groups around them, and here was I, lost, bewildered, shelterless. Nobody knew and nobody cared anything about my misery. The only comfort I had was that I could still see my policeman, standing stolid in the storm. Where could Charlie be ? I began to get angry as well as all the rest, — angry with fate, it may be, but certainly not with Charlie. It must be late by this time; even if he came now we should n’t probably have time to reach the boat, and it would go off, and my precious, precious manuscript on board, and here we would be left in the great town without a single cent to bless us. What would become of me ? Something must have happened to Charlie ; he must be dead; and I never should know ! Tears — I am afraid I am great on tears — ran down my cheeks in unrepressed succession.
A woman stepped up into the porch beside me to find safety for a gorgeous new bonnet, — she had some vain idea that it was going to stop raining presently. I asked her if she knew what time it was, — I was case-hardened now, — and she informed me by a lovely little watch, with a tiny fox and hounds coursing along the chain, that it was five minutes past four, and put the finishing stroke to my trouble thereby. But I did not dare to ask her if she had not made a mistake, and it was really four minutes past five ; I did n't want to know if it was, relief though it would have been. I watched the head of the street as a cat watches a mouse, The woman wanted to open a conversation, but I had to turn my head to hear what she said, owing to the noise of wind and rain and pavement, and finally told her I could not talk, for I was looking for my husband, and was encouraged by her cheerful opinion that it was like looking for a needle in a haymow. Gentlemen were going in and out of the doors behind me ; they all seemed to have bold eyes. I fancied painfully and shamefully that they were all fast men; one pleasant woman came out, and I blessed her for making the place respectable for such a castaway as I to stand in. And still no Charlie.
Still I stood there, puzzling, thinking, resolving, and all at once saying to myself that Charlie was of such a free-andeasy sort, he had probably gone back to the hotel, and would expect me to turn up there, and we should remain in New York while he telegraphed home for money. And, just as I was taking comfort, I remembered that you cannot sign receipts for dividends by telegraph ; and the fall from my buoyant anticipation was fathoms deep into trouble and bewilderment and fright again. Suddenly I gave a start; an,omnibus was passing the head of the street; a great, broad-brimmed, black hat, and a pair of black eyes beneath it, were out of the window, evidently in search of some one through the throng upon the sidewalk. Heaven be thanked ! it was Charlie and no one else. I sprang into the street without a word to my woman, regardless of rain or umbrellas or crowds or any one, and made after the omnibus, shouting “ Charlie ! Charlie ! Charlie ! ” at the top of my voice. Just then the driver whipped up his horses; Charlie never heard me; the omnibus dashed along ; I dashed after it. My only salvation was in keeping that vehicle in sight. I was a disreputable - looking thing enough, — wet, draggled, blown to pieces, and dishevelled, and chasing somebody in an omnibus. But if Charlie did n’t see me the crowd did ; everybody looked, everybody turned, everybody waved their umbrellas, everybody began chasing the omnibus with me, everybody shouted Charlie, and at last, just as I was ready to drop, panting and breathless, Charlie seemed to perceive that something unusual was happening, glanced about him hurriedly, pulled the check, leaped out, and caught me. I never knew what joy was before.
“ You are a pretty-looking object,” was his first exclamation, as he tucked me under his arm and walked off. “ And as for me, I never experienced anything like it in my life, — couldn't have happened in any other city under the sun ! Got an expressman to take my trunks across ; he promised to be there in fifteen minutes, and if I waited a minute I waited two mortal hours for the rascal, — knew if I did n't, my luggage would all be dumped down in the dock and made off with. However, I guess we 've time for a plate of soup at Delmonico’s, — found a bill in my vestpocket. Was that where you were ? Should n’t have dreamed of going for you there till everything else failed.” And never did any triumphant Roman with his trophies feel more pride than did I when I vindicated myself and paraded my newly found husband by the woman waiting for the rain to leave off and save her gorgeous bonnet. “ You see I found my needle,” I said. "Good by.”
“But how came you in the stage ?” I asked Charlie, presently, as we burned our mouths with our soup.
“ Why, the steamboat landing I found to be half-way up town,” said he. “ So I took a stage, meaning to ride down to the Astor House corner as appointed, and if I did n’t find you, saunter up.”
“ I don’t believe I ’ve been at the Astor House corner at all. But did you suppose I would wait out there in the rain ? ”
“ No, I fancy you know enough to go in when it rains. Nevertheless, that worried me out of my wits, as it seems to have worried you. But,” said Charlie, mischievously, “ I saw I must either lose my luggage or my wife, and I decided I would attend to my luggage ! ”
Do you wonder that I hate newspapers ? “ Well,” said I, as we steamed over the Sound at last, taking out my single purchase in ecstasy, after having been reviled for finding no stores in all Broadway with anything in the windows, “ at any rate, I have this.”
“Let me see it,” said Charlie. “ Where did you get it ? ”
I mildly told him, and was consternated to see him fillip it with his thumb and finger, as he replied, “ I thought so! The great Bogus Jewelry Store ; the place of Attleboro’ splendors ! Viennese workmanship, indeed ! eighteen carats fine, and the diamonds real ! Thirty dollars ! You are no more to be trusted with money in your pocket — ” Charlie stopped, recollecting the money in his pocket that morning. “ Thirty dollars ! thirty cents would have been high, my love. It is n’t worth the tin it’s gilt on ! ”
“The natural consequence, my love, of leaving me to shop alone in Broadway ! ”