“Where’s My Trunk?”

How many of us have experienced lost or mis-directed luggage? I certainly have. Here is a fun story of a mysterious black trunk traveling by coach and steam ferry, which saw mishap upon mishap…..

“Where’s My Trunk?” The Monthly Traveller, or, Spirit of the Periodical Press. Badger & Porter, Boston: 1833.
It is well know in Scotland that the road from Edinburgh to Dundee, only forty-three miles in extent, is rendered tedious and troublesome by the interposition of two arms of the sea, namely, the Firths of Forth and Tay, one of which is seven, and the other three miles across. Several rapid and well conducted stage coaches travel upon this road; but, from the frequent loading and unloading at the ferries, there is not only considerable delay to the traveler, but also rather more than the usual risk of damage and loss to their luggage. On one occasion it happened that the common chances against the safety of a traveller’s integuments were multiplied in a mysterious, but most amusing manner – as the following little narrative will show: –
The gentleman in question was an inside passenger – a very tall man, which was so much the worse for him in that situation – and it appeared that his whole baggage consisted of a single black trunk – one of medium size, and now way remarkable in appearance. On our leaving Edinburgh, this trunk had been deposited in the boot of the coach, amidst a great variety of other trunks, bundles, and carpet bags, belonging to the rest of the passengers.
Having arrived at Newhaven, the luggage was brought forth from the coach, and disposed upon a barrow, in order that it might be taken down to the steam boat which was to convey us across. – Just as the barrow was moving off, the tall gentleman said –
“Guard, have you got my trunk?”
“Oh, yes, sir,” answered the guard; “you may be sure it’s there.”
“Not so sure of that,” quoth the tall gentleman; “whereabouts is it?”
The guard poked into the barrow, and looked in vain among the numberless articles for the trunk. At length, after he had noozled about for two or three minutes through all the holes and corners of the mass of integuments, he drew out his head, like a terrier tired of earthing a badger, and seemed a little nonplused.
“Why, here it is in the boot!” exclaimed the passenger, “snug at the bottom, where it might have remained, I suppose, for you, till safely returned to the coach yard, in Edinburgh.”
The guard made an awkward apology, put the trunk upon the barrow, and away we all went to the steam boat.
Nothing further occurred till we were all standing beside the coach at Pettycur, ready to proceed on the principal terraqueous part of our journey through Fife.
Every thing seemed to have been stowed into the coach, and most of the passengers had taken their proper places, when the tall gentleman cried out –
“Guard, where is my trunk?”
“In the boot, sir,” answered the guard; “you may depend upon that.”
“I have not seen it put in,” said the passenger, “and I don’t believe it is there.”
“Oh, sir,” said the guard, quite distressed, “there can surely be no doubt about the trunk now.”
“There! I declare – there!” cried the owner of the missing property; “my trunk is still lying down yonder upon the sands. Don’t you see it? The sea, I declare, is just about reaching it. What a careless set of porters! I protest I was never so treated on any journey before.”
The trunk was instantly rescued from it somewhat perilous situation, and, all having been at length put to rights, we went on our way to Cupar.
Here the coach stopped a few minutes at the inn, and there is generally a particular discharge of passengers. As some individuals, on the present occasion, had to leave the coach, there was a slight discomposure of the luggage, and various trunks and bundles were presently seen departing on the backs of porters, after the gentlemen to whom they belonged. After all seemed to have been again put to rights, the tall gentleman made his wonted inquiry respecting his trunk.
“The trunk, sir,” said the guard, rather pettishly, “is in the boot.”
“Not a bit of it,” said its owner; who in the meantime had been peering about. “There it lies in the lobby of the inn!”
The guard now began to think that this trunk was in some way bewitched, and possessed a power, unenjoyed by other earthly trunks, of removing itself or staying behind, according to its own good pleasure.
“The Lord have a care o’ us!” cried the astonished custodier of baggage, who, to do him justice seemed and exceedingly sober and attentive person. “The Lord have a care o’ us, sir! The trunks no canny.”
“It’s canny enough, you fool,” said the gentleman sharply; “but only you don’t pay proper attention to it.”
The fact was, that the trunk had been taken out of the coach and placed in the lobby, in order to allow of certain other articles being got at which lay beneath. It was now once more stowed away, and we set forward upon the remaining part of our journey, hoping that there would be no more disturbance about this pestilent member of the community of trunks. All was right till we came to the lonely inn of St Michael’s, where a side road turns off to St Andrew’s, and where it happened that a passenger had to leave us to walk to that seat of learning, a servant having been in waiting to carry his luggage.
The tall gentleman, hearing a bustle about the boot, projected his immensely long slender body through the coach window, in order, like the lady in the fairy tale, to see what he could see.
“Hello, fellow!” cried he to the servant following the gentleman down the St Andrew’s road; “is that not my trunk? Come back, if you please, and let me inspect it.”
“The trunk, sir,” interposed the guard, in a sententious manner, “is that gemman’s trunk, and not yours: yours is in the book.”
“We’ll make sure of that, Mr Guard, if you please. Come back, my good fellow, and let me see the trunk you have got with you.”
The trunk was accordingly brought back, and, to the confession of the guard, who had thought himself fairly infallible for this time, it was the tall man’s property, as clear as brass nails could make it.
The trunk was now the universal subject of talk, both inside and outside, and every body said he would be surprised if it got to its journey’s end in safety. All agreed that it manifested a most extraordinary disposition to be lost, stolen, or strayed, but yet every one thought that there was a kind of special providence about it, which kept it on the right road after all; and, therefore, it became a fair subject of debate, whether the chances against, or the chances for, were likely to prevail.
Before we arrived at Newport, where we had to go on board the ferry steam boat for Dundee, the conversation had gone into other channels, and each being engaged about his own concerns, no one thought any more about the trunk, till just as the barrow was descending along the pier, the eternal long man cried out –
“Guard, have you got my trunk?”
“Oh, yes,” cried the guard very promptly, “I’ve taken care of it now. There it is on the top of all.”
“It’s no such thing,” cried the gentleman who had come into the coach at Cupar; “that’s my trunk.’
Every body then looked about for the enchanted trunk; the guard ran back, and once more searched the boot, which he knew to have been searched to the bottom before; and the tall gentleman gazed over land, water, and sky, in quest of his precious encumbrance.
“Well, guard,” cried he at length, “what a pretty fellow you are! There, don’t you see? – there’s my trunk thrust into the shed, like a piece of lumber!”
My Apologies – On to part 2

Published in: on March 9, 2013 at 9:00 am  Comments (1)  

One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Lol, I like the word noozled. I might need to start using it!


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