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curiosity, but my thoughts still fondly clinging at intervals, to the box, I began to penetrate the mystery, and without more hesitation, sent for a smith to open it. The first object that met my eye, was the unlucky bonnet, most carefully hedged round with papers and parchments to sustain it in its vertical position. I removed it with all possible care, and found deposited immediately beneath it, a letter addressed to myself, in an elegant female hand, on beautiful embossed paper, and slightly sealed with wax of celestial blue, impressed with Cupid retaining a dove by a silken cord.
“Mrs. Rudall presents her compliments to Mr. Gregory Sharpe, and begs permission to forward to him all her deeds and papers, being involved in a most cruel dispute with her landlord, and having heard from their mutual friend, the Rev. Mr. Fairfax, an old college acquaintance of Mr. Sharpe's, the highest testimony to his character and abilities. Mrs. Rudall will trouble Mr. Sharpe to allow some of his people to take the bonnet, which she has enclosed for safety in the box, to Madame Livorne. Mr. Sharpe will please to direct all possible care to be taken of the bonnet, and to favor Mrs. Rudall with his opinion on her case, as early as possible, her landlord behaving like a brute, and being very troublesome !” “P. S. Mrs. Rudall will be glad if Madame livorne can send home the bonnet by this day week.” Here was I in a pretty mess! the letter had no date or address; mere ornamental appendages in the opinion of most fair correspondents. More than a fortnight had already gone by. I had no certain clue to Madame Livorne, and as to the case, and the brute of a landlord, had I been Theseus himself, my lovely client had shown herself no Ariadne. I turned over the papers with a vengeance, but I could make nothing of them. I had lost sight of Fairfax for above seven years, and never knew more of him, than as a casual companion to take wine with. In short, I resolved to leave the affair to the chance of the tables, after making an honest and ineffectual attempt to trace the bonnetmaker Another week elapsed, and to my relief, though somewhat also to my surprise, a lady drove up to my office door, sending up a tiger
to beg that I would oblige her by stepping down to her carriage. I immediately obeyed; and a good-looking lady of some thirty years' date, and sweetly smiling a self-introduction, announced herself as Mrs. Rudall. “Have you got my bonnet, Mr. Sharpe?” “I have, madam, and several deeds and papers that came with it.” “Oh, never mind the deeds and papers, they will keep till to-morrow; but how could you. be so inconsiderate as to detain my bonnet?” “Really, madam, had you told me where to send it, I would—” “Why, I told you to Madame Livorne!” “But you never told me where she lived.” “In St. James's street, to be sure; everybody knows where Madame Livorne lives; ” laying a stress on the word “everybody,” with something between a sneer and a tone of incredulity. I lisped out some nonsense about my professional distance from the world of fashion, and offered the amende honorable, by forthwith forwarding the bonnet to its destination; but this she declined, taking the precious charge upon herself; and at the same time promising to make an appointment to see me on “her case,” before she left town. [ had the wit to ask her address, and I called at her hotel three successive days without once finding her sufficiently at leisure to enter on the subject. I did not call again, though she staid a week in London. The day before she quitted it, I received another note from her, which, though not sealed with doves or blue wax, I opened with alacrity, but found it only contained an order to deliver over the box with its contents to another attorney, the brother-in-law of Madame Livorne, “whom she had luckily found an opportunity of putting in possession of all the circumstances of her unfortunate case!!!” I was indebted to the kindness of Miss Gordon, a lady of high connexions, and intimate with many members of my own family, for an introduction to Lady Carysfort, who, with her two sisters, Mrs. Walsingham and Miss St. Clair, were entitled to the accumulations of a very large property, amounting to £80,000. The income of their father had for peculiar reasons, not necessary to explain, been made over to trustees to allow him a certain maintenance for life, and on his decease to distribute the principal with all the accumulations among his three daughters, subject, however, to the discharge of his just debts. The father died; but the trustees demurred to the immediate distribution, on account of certain outstanding claims of an indefinite and questionable character. My assistance was required in preference to that of the family solicitor, to obtain for the ladies the money to which they were entitled. I bestowed considerable pains on the investiga. tion of the case, and eventually succeeded in satisfying the trustees that they might safely set the alleged creditors at defiance, except as to a comparatively trifling sum; on this they consented to proceed to a distribution, on being indemnified by the cestui que trusts. Having thus, at the end of two or three months, completely cleared away all difficulties, I explained the matter to my clients, that I might obtain the requisite instructions as to the indemnity. I first called upon Miss St. Clair. “Indeed, Mr. Sharpe, this is really good news! so we shall get all our money at last?” “Yes, ma'am; subject to the indemnity.” “I don’t quite understand this indemnity business, though you have said so much to explain it.” “It only amounts to this—if the trustees are