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I PREFER A SUIT TO OLD NANNY, AND PROCURE A NEW SUIT OF CLOTHES.
THE ADVANTAGE OF BEING WELL DRESSED - YOU MAY WALK OUT WITH THE LADIES.
The reader must not give me too much credit, when I tell him that, ever since I had been under the tuition of Peter Anderson, I had quite a craving to go to church. Although what I had gained from his precepts and explanations had increased my desire, still I must acknowledge that the strongest reason for my being so anxious was, that my mother would not take me, and did take Virginia. Further, my curiosity was excited by my absolute ignorance of what the church service consisted; I had heard the bells toll, and, as I sauntered by, would stop and listen to the organ and the singing. I would sometimes wait, and see the people coming out; and then I could not help comparing my ragged dress with their clean and gay attire.
This wish continually worried me; but the more I reflected, the more impossible it appeared to be that I should be able to gratify it. How could I possibly go to church in my tattered and dirty clothes - and what chance had I of getting others ? I certainly gained, at an average, eighteenpence per week, but I saved nothing. Would my mother give me clothes ? No, that I was sure she would not; for she grudged me even the little victuals which I did apply for. I thought this matter over and over as I lay in bed. Ben had no money. Anderson I could not ask for it. I thought that I would apply to Dr. Tadpole, but I was afraid. At last, it came into my head that I had better first ascertain how much money I should require before I took further measures.
The next morning I went to a fitting-out shop, and asked the lad who attended how much money I should have to pay for a pair of blue trowsers, waistcoat, and jacket. The lad told me that I might have a very nice suit for twenty-two shillings. Twenty-two shillings ! What an enormous sum it appeared to me then; and then there was a straw hat to buy, and a pair of shoes and stockings. I inquired the price of these last articles, and found that my dress could not be made complete under thirty-three shillings. I was quite in despair, for the sum appeared to be a fortune. I sat down to calculate how long it would take me to save up so much money, at sixpence a week, which was all that I could afford; but, at that time, never having learnt any thing of figures, all I could make of it was, that it was so long a time as to be beyond my calculation.
It was Saturday evening, I sat down on the steps of the landing-place, very melancholy, thinking that to-morrow was Sunday, and abandoning all hopes of ever going to church, when a Thames fisherman, of the name of Freeman, who lived at Greenwich, and with whom I was acquainted - for I used to assist him on the Saturday night to moor his coble off the landing-place, and hang up his nets to dry — called out to me to come and help him. I did so ; we furled the sails, hauled on board his little boat for keeping the fish alive, hoisted the nets up to the mast, and made all secure ; and I was thinking to myself that he would go to church to-morrow, and I could not, when he asked me why I was so sad. I told him.
Why, Jack," said he, “ I can't help you, for it is bad times with me just now; indeed, I could help you but little if times were ever so good; I've too many children of my own; but look
ye, here's a good long piece of four-inch, which I picked up, and it's well worth a shilling. I'll give it you (for I do owe you something), and do you take it to old Nanny. She's a queer body; but, suppose you try whether she 'll let you have the money. She can, if she chooses, and, as you have dealt with her so long, perhaps she will, if you promise to lay some by every week, and
This idea had never occurred to me, for I knew old Nanny was very close, and drove very hard bargains with me; however, I thanked Freeman for his piece of rope and piece of advice, and when we landed, I determined, at all events, I would try.
I have before mentioned old Nanny, who kept a marine store, and to whom I used to sell whatever I picked up on the beach.
She was a strange old woman, and appeared to know every thing that was going on. How she gained her information, I cannot tell. She was very miserly in general; but it was said she had done kind things in one or two instances. Nobody knew her history : all that any body knew was that she was Old Nanny. She had no kith or kin that she ever mentioned; some people said she was rich, if the truth were known; but how are we to get at the truth in this world?
I was soon at Old Nanny's store, with the piece of rope coiled over my arm.
“ Well, Jack, what have you got here; a piece of good junk? no, it is not, for it is quite rotten. Why do you bring me such things ? What can I do with them?”
“Why, mother,” says I, “it's new rope ; not been used hardly ; it's the very best of junk."
“ Boy, boy! do you pretend to teach me? Well, what do you want for it?"
“I want a shilling," replied I.
“ A shilling !" cried she, " where am I to find a shilling? And if I could find one, why should I throw it away upon a thing not worth twopence, and which will only lumber my store till I die? The boy's demented !"
“ Mother," says I, “ it's worth a shilling, and you know it; so give it to me, or I go elsewhere.”
“ And where will you go to, good-for-nothing that you are ? where will you go to ?”
« Oh! the fishermen will give me more."
“ The fishermen will give you a couple of stale flat-fish, to take home to
mother.” “Well, I'll try that," said I, going.
“ Not so fast, Jack, not so fast ; if I make a penny by you one day, I suppose, to keep your custom, I must lose something by you the next. Now, I'll give you sixpence : and how I'm to get my money back, I don't know."
“ No, Nanny,” said I, “I must have a shilling.” “A shilling, you little cheat, I can't give it; but what do you