Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/219

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August 18, 1860.]
211
WANTED—A DIAMOND RING.

out its effect. I accepted the offered pledge of amity in respectful silence.

“A young man,” continued the patriarch, “may possibly find it difficult to understand how the loss of a trinket can be a source of positive suffering to an old one, but—I am alluding to my lost ring—there are associations connected with it which—ahem! This is childish, you will excuse my emotion.”

I bowed profoundly in the presence of this natural agitation.

“I have passed some hours of sleeplessness and distress, from which you have been the means of relieving me—I feel deeply indebted to you. There remains nothing now but to reimburse you for—a—”

Here the old gentleman drew forth his purse, and proceeded to unclasp it.

“Excuse me, sir,” I stammered rather hurriedly, “but if the ring is yours, you can doubtless, describe the armorial bearings?”

“Armorial bearings, sir! It was a diamond ring.”

“Certainly.”

“A plain diamond ring!” repeated the old gentleman, sternly. “Do not attempt to play tricks with me, young man. I will point out to you directly—”

“I beg your pardon,” said I, drawing back from the outstretched hand, “but, as the ring in my possession is assuredly engraved with a crest and motto, I conclude it cannot be the one you are in search of.”

The old gentleman eyed me for a moment keenly.

“I am afraid you are right,” he sighed, in a tone of deep dejection; “I must seek farther. Alas! what a melancholy termination to my hopeful journey.”

“Speed the parting, welcome the coming guest,” is a very good motto. I made no attempt to detain my venerable friend; but, as he turned towards the door, I am certain I saw beneath the silver hairs a lock of dark and shining brown.

My next visitor was a lady extensively got up, of imposing height and carriage, rouged, scented, spectacled.

“We meet under singular circumstances,” began this lady, with condescending haughtiness. “I am the principal of a college for young ladies—”

With a deferential acknowledgment of the honour done me, I begged to know what had procured it.

“In the hours of recreation we are accustomed to promenade in the Park—a delightful spot, so suggestive of the blushing country!—during our ramble of yesterday, a young lady under my charge was unfortunate enough to lose her ring. You, sir, are the fortunate finder.”

“I certainly did, madam, pick up a ring; but—”

“Ah! how grateful my dear pupil will be at beholding it again!” exclaimed the teacher of youth, clasping her hands, ecstatically.

“May I trouble you to describe the ring?”

“Describe it! A diamond ring, sir—handsome and massive, but plain.”

“And the crest?”

“The crest! Ah! that my young charge were with me. Stupid! to have forgotten. The crest of the Deloraines. Is it a lion passant or? No; I am wrong. Unfortunate, that she should be too unwell to accompany me! But it is immaterial; I will take it for her inspection—she will be able to recognise it at once.”

“I fear, madam, that I should scarcely be justified—”

“Sir!!!”

“I feel it my duty,” I said, firmly, “under the circumstances, to take every precaution against mistakes. I trust the young lady is not too seriously indisposed to give you the necessary description.”

“Very well, sir! Exceedingly well! It is I who have been mistaken. I fancied—yes; actually fancied—that I was speaking to a gentleman! You will find, sir, to your cost, that the lady principal of a college is not to be insulted with impunity! I wish you a good morning.”

Very harrowing this. I am scarcely recovered from the lady principal when there is a dash of wheels to the door, and a young fellow, flinging the reins to a groom in livery, springs up the steps to the door-bell.

“Oh, dash it!” he begins, breathing out a volume of stale tobacco; “I beg your pardon, and that, but the old woman—dash it! I mean my mother—told me I should find my ring here, so I ordered out the vessel and the cats, and spun along like ninepence for it!”

“I shall be very glad to restore the ring I was unfortunate enough to find when I can discover its owner.”

“Discover! dash it! Didn’t I tell you it’s mine? I say, I wish you wouldn’t be so precious slow—I don’t want the cats to catch cold, I’ve just had ’em shampooed, you know, naphthaed and that.”

“What sort of ring was yours?”

“What sort! Oh, come, as if you didn’t know—that’s good.”

I intimated that I should be glad to find out if he knew.

“Not know my own ring, eh! I know it’s worth a couple o’ ponies. Come, let’s hear the damages, and I’ll stump up,”

“You can describe the device?”

“Device, eh? What, the governor’s? Bless you, he has a device for every hour in the day, to do me out of my rightful allowance. Device! Oh, come, you don’t expect me to do the heraldic dodge, dash it!”

“I cannot give up the ring unless you describe it.”

“Oh, dash it, don’t chaff a fellow, now. I shouldn’t care a rap about the thing, only it belonged to some defunct party, and the governor ’d cut up so deuced rough. I’ve got heaps of ’em. Come, I’ll swop you any one of these for it, because of the governor.”

I respectfully declined the proposal.

“Well, dash it,” exclaimed the young fellow, as though struck with a sudden idea, “what a couple of muffs we are! Why don’t you turf the thing? I could tell in a minute if it’s mine, dash it!”