(If this should meet her eye,--a lovely blue,--may she not take it ill my mentioning that if I had been eight or ten year younger, I would have done as much by her! That is, I would have made her a offer. It is for others than me to denominate it a handsome one.)
"Christopher, I am going to make you a handsome offer."
"Put a name to it, ma'am."
"Look here, Christopher. Run over the articles of Somebody's Luggage. You've got it all by heart, I know."
"A black portmanteau, ma'am, a black bag, a desk, a dressing-case, a brown-paper parcel, a hat-box, and an umbrella strapped to a walking-stick."
"All just as they were left. Nothing opened, nothing tampered with."
"You are right, ma'am. All locked but the brown-paper parcel, and that sealed."
The Mistress was leaning on Miss Martin's desk at the bar-window, and she taps the open book that lays upon the desk,--she has a pretty-made hand to be sure,--and bobs her head over it and laughs.
"Come," says she, "Christopher. Pay me Somebody's bill, and you shall have Somebody's Luggage."
I rather took to the idea from the first moment; but,
"It mayn't be worth the money," I objected, seeming to hold back.
"That's a Lottery," says the Mistress, folding her arms upon the book,--it ain't her hands alone that's pretty made, the observation extends right up her arms. "Won't you venture two pound sixteen shillings and sixpence in the Lottery? Why, there's no blanks!" says the Mistress; laughing and bobbing her head again, "you _must_ win. If you lose, you must win! All prizes in this Lottery! Draw a blank, and remember, Gentlemen-Sportsmen, you'll still be entitled to a black portmanteau, a black bag, a desk, a dressing-case, a sheet of brown paper, a hat-box, and an umbrella strapped to a walking-stick!"
To make short of it, Miss Martin come round me, and Mrs. Pratchett come round me, and the Mistress she was completely round me already, and all the women in the house come round me, and if it had been Sixteen two instead of Two sixteen, I should have thought myself well out of it. For what can you do when they do come round you?
So I paid the money--down--and such a laughing as there was among 'em! But I turned the tables on 'em regularly, when I said:
"My family-name is Blue-Beard. I'm going to open Somebody's Luggage all alone in the Secret Chamber, and not a female eye catches sight of the contents!"
Whether I thought proper to have the firmness to keep to this, don't signify, or whether any female eye, and if any, how many, was really present when the opening of the Luggage came off. Somebody's Luggage is the question at present: Nobody's eyes, nor yet noses.
What I still look at most, in connection with that Luggage, is the extraordinary quantity of writing-paper, and all written on! And not our paper neither,--not the paper charged in the bill, for we know our paper,--so he must have been always at it. And he had crumpled up this writing of his, everywhere, in every part and parcel of his luggage. There was writing in his dressing-case, writing in his boots, writing among his shaving-tackle, writing in his hat-box, writing folded away down among the very whalebones of his umbrella.
His clothes wasn't bad, what there was of 'em.