« AnteriorContinuar »
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 trousers, 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
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 tako 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 anything 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 bim on the Saturday night to moor his coble off the landingplace and hang up his nets to dry-called out to mo to come and help him. I did so; we furled the sails, hauled on board his little boat für keeping the fish alive, hoisted the nets up to the mast, and mado 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 repay her."
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 everything 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 know her history : all that anybody 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
to got at the truth in this world ?
I was soon at old Nanny's store, with the pieco of rupe 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," replicd 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 elsewhere."
“ And where will you go to, good-for-nothing that you are ? where will you go to ?”
“Oh! the fisherinen will give me more.”
· The fishermen will give you a couple of stale flatfish, to take home to your other.”
“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 want? don't you want a key to your chest, or something of that sort ?"
“I've no chest, mother; and therefore don't want a key."
“But you want something out of all the pretty things in my shop; boys always fancy something."
I laughed at the idea of "pretty things" in her shop; for it contained nothing but old iron, empty bottles, dirty rags and vials; so I told her there was nothing that I wanted.
Well,” says she, “ sit down a little, and look about you; there's no hurry. So Mrs. East has got another boy, worse luck for the parish, with six children already !-Look about you, and take your time.-Did you hear of Peter James giving his wife a black eye last night, because she wanted to get him out of the alehouse. I wonder who that letter was from that Susan Davis had from the post-office. I think I could guess ;-—poor girl ! she has looked rather peaking for some weeks.—Don't be in a hurry, Jack; look about; there's plenty of pretty things in my shop.-So Davis the butcher has been pulled up for bad meat; I thought it would come to that, and I'm glad of it.— There's a capital lock and key, Jack, to put to your chest, when you get one; suppose you take that.-What's the Doctor about ? They say he is always sitting with the widow.–Does your mother make plenty of money by clear-starching? I know your sister had a spotted muslin frock on last Sunday, and that must have cost something. There's a spade, Jack ; very useful to dig on the beach ; you may find something-money perhaps,—who knows? Take the spade, Jack, and then you'll owe me sixpence.—So Bill Freeman pawned his wife's best gown last Saturday night. I thought it
would be so. He may say it's because he's caught no fish this bad weather. But I know more than people think. Here's a nice glass bottle, Jack, wouldn't you like to give it to your mother, to put pickles in ? it's white glass, you see. Look about, Jack; there's plenty of pretty things, you see.-So the Governor's daughter's going to be married ; at least I suppose so, for I met her riding with a young gentleman; and now-a-days the quality always make love on horseback. Well, Jack, have you found anything ?"
“No, mother, I havn't; and I must have my shilling or go. Unless, indeed, you're inclined to help me to what I want, and then I'll give you the rope for nothing."
“Give me the rope for nothing !" replied old Nanny. “ Sit down, Jack, and let me know what it is you want.”
I thought it was of little use to make the application, but I determined to try; so I explained my wishes.
“Humph !" said she, after a minute's thought, “so you want thirty-three shillings to buy clothes -- to go to church in. Your mother dresses your sister in spotted muslin, and leaves you in rags; — suppose you wait till your father comes home again ?” “ That may not be for years.”
Why, Jack, I don't go to church — I am too old too poor to dress myself to go to church, even if I could go so far, — why should you go ?”
“Well, mother," said I, rising up, "if you will not do it, I'm very sorry; I would have paid you honestly, and have given you good bargains, so good-bye.”