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husband and child, would you? Not you!" and
throwing off other sarcastic sparks from the
whirling grindstone of his indignation, Mr. Cruncher
betook himself to his boot-cleaning and his
general preparations for business. In the mean
time, his son, whose head was garnished with
tenderer spikes, and whose young eyes stood
close by one another, as his father's did, kept the
required watch upon his mother. He greatly
disturbed that poor woman at intervals, by darting
out of his sleeping closet, where he made his
toilet, with a suppressed cry of "You are going
to flop, mother.—Halloa, father!" and, after
raising this fictitious alarm, darting in again with
an undutiful grin.

Mr. Cruncher's temper was not at all
improved when he came to his breakfast. He
resented Mrs. Cruncher's saying Grace with
particular animosity.

"Now, Aggerawayter! What are you up to?
At it agin?"

His wife explained that she had merely "asked
a blessing."

"Don't do it!" said Mr. Cruncher, looking
about, as if he rather expected to see the loaf
disappear under the efficacy of his wife's
petitions. "I ain't a going to be blest out of house
and home. I won't have my wittles blest off my
table. Keep still!"

Exceedingly red-eyed and grim, as if he had
been up all night at a party which had taken
anything but a convivial turn, Jerry Cruncher
worried his breakfast rather than ate it, growling
over it like any four-footed inmate of a
menagerie. Towards nine o'clock he smoothed
his ruffled aspect, and, presenting as respectable
and business-like an exterior as he could overlay
his natural self with, issued forth to the
occupation of the day.

It could scarcely be called a trade, in spite of
his favourite description of himself as "a honest
tradesman." His stock consisted of a wooden
stool, made out of a broken-backed chair cut
down, which stool Young Jerry, walking at his
father's side, carried every morning to beneath the
banking-house window that was nearest Temple
Bar: where, with the addition of the first handful
of straw that could be gleaned from any
passing vehicle to keep the cold and wet from
the odd-job-man's feet, it formed the encampment
for the day. On this post of his, Mr. Cruncher
was as well known to Fleet-street and the
Temple, as the Bar itselfand was almost as ill-

Encamped at a quarter before nine, in good
time to touch his three-cornered hat to the
oldest of men as they passed in to Tellson's,
Jerry took up his station on this windy March
morning, with Young Jerry standing by him,
when not engaged in making forays through the
Bar, to inflict bodily and mental injuries of an
acute description on passing boys who were
small enough for his amiable purpose. Father
and son, extremely like each other, looking
silently on at the morning traffic in Fleet-street,
with their two heads as near to one another as
the two eyes of each were, bore a considerable
resemblance to a pair of monkeys. The
resemblance was not lessened by the accidental
circumstance, that the mature Jerry bit and spat out
straw, while the twinkling eyes of the youthful
Jerry were as restlessly watchful of him as of
everything else in Fleet-street.

The head of one of the regular in-door
messengers attached to Tellson's establishment was
put through the door, and the word was given:

"Porter wanted!"

"Hooray, father! Here's an early job to
begin with!"

Having thus given his parent God speed,
Young Jerry seated himself on the stool, entered
on his reversionary interest in the straw his
father had been chewing, and cogitated.

"Al-ways rusty! His fingers is al-ways
rusty!" muttered young Jerry. "Where does
my father get all that iron rust from? He don't
get no iron rust here!"


"You know the Old Bailey well, no doubt?"
said one of the oldest of clerks to Jerry the

"Ye-es, sir," returned Jerry, in something of
a dogged manner. "I do know the Bailey."

"Just so. And you know Mr. Lorry."

"I know Mr. Lorry, sir, much better than I
know the Bailey. Much better," said Jerry,
not unlike a reluctant witness at the establishment
in question, "than I, as a honest tradesman,
wish to know the Bailey."

"Very well. Find the door where the witnesses
go in, and show the doorkeeper this note
for Mr. Lorry. He will then let you in."

"Into the court, sir?"

"Into the court."

Mr. Cruncher's eyes seemed to get a little
closer to one another, and to interchange the
inquiry, "What do you think of this?"

"Am I to wait in the court, sir?" He asked,
as the result of that conference.

"I am going to tell you. The doorkeeper
will pass the note to Mr. Lorry, and do you
make any gesture that will attract Mr. Lorry's
attention, and show him where you stand. Then
what you have to do, is, to remain there until he
wants you."

"Is that all, sir?"

"That's all. He wishes to have a messenger
at hand. This is to tell him you are there."

As the ancient clerk deliberately folded and
superscribed the note, Mr. Cruncher, after
surveying him in silence until he came to the
blotting-paper stage, remarked:

"I suppose they'll be trying Forgeries this


"That's quartering," said Jerry. "Barbarous!"

"It is the law," remarked the ancient clerk,
turning his surprised spectacles upon him, "It
is the law."

"It's hard in the law to spile a man, I think.
It's hard enough to kill him, but it's wery hard
to spile him, sir."