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Charles Dickens.]



fell a great tuft of Mr. William Yawl's hair
upon the upper leather of his left boot.

Mr. Yawl looked down at the tuft of hair
but said nothing.

"Pray, how many milch cows are there
among all the cowkeepers that supply milk for
all London? " next demanded Mr. Slivers.

"A great many," replied Yawl, brightening
up, " I dare say a matter of twenty thousand."

"Now," proceeded Slivers, again gathering
up a still larger tuft of hair to his comb, and
expanding the blades of the scissors to their
utmost gape, " now, half-a-pint a day for two
millions of people amounts to five hundred
thousand quarts; to obtain which we must
have fifty thousand cows, each producing, on
an average, ten quarts a day. So, you see,
according to Corker, we're thirty thousand
cows short of our proper complement
and the milk of all these has to be supplied
by the Cow with the IronTail, my boy! "—
and off went the second great tuft of hair, and
fell close beside his shorn companion on the

"And pray, where did you learn all this?"
enquired Mr. Yawl, in a quailing voice.
"Who told you all these things ?—though it's
nothing to me, you knowI 'm not a cow-

"To be sure you ain't. I know that very
veryvery "—(here Mr. Slivers performed
a straddle-dance round his victim, operating
most vigorously with his comb and scissors)—
veryvery well, you see. But there's a
knowing old fellow comes here to be shaved
twice a week, and I was telling him of your
leaving me for old Podgy Green, and so we
got a-talking of milk and cows, and then he
blew up the whole concern."

"This was Corker, as you spoke of, I
suppose; he 'd better have minded his own
business," said Mr. Yawl.

"No," retorted Slivers, making his scissors
gape up to the very eye, " it was not Corker;
it was old Dignum, your landlord, to whom
you owe three quarters' rent,"—and clash
went the scissors in their final performance.

It was true; Mr. Yawl did owe three
quarters; and he remained moodily specu-
lating on his fallen tufts, bunches, and short
ends of hair, as they lay scattered around his
boots, while Slivers amused himself by twist-
ing up smoking paper with a pair of hot

"Bless you," resumed the inexorable barber,
"what I have said isn't a hundredth part of
what old Dignum told me. The management
of London cows is certainly very curious
and heddyfying."

"You know I 'm not a cow-keeper! " in-
terrupted Mr. Yawl, with a look of alarm.

"I know you 're not," said Mr. Slivers
"don't flinch so!—the irons ain't too hot. I
am aware as you don't keep cows, and don't
know much of such things as I 'm going to
tell you; but you ought to knowit's very
much your interest to know. Don't flinch so,

I say. First, as to the purchase. Poor, lean,
mangy, over-druv, feverish cows are bought
cheap at Smithfield. That's bad, to begin
with, ain't it ? But suppose the cows as are
bought, turn out to be decent kind of animals,
mark what sort of life they soon have to lead.
A great number of the London milch cows
live in dark, damp dens, under stone arches
near the Thames. In one of these ranges
forty or fifty cows are packed, in a space not
large enough for a dozen; the shed is lit with
gas, which adds to the hot steam of the breath
and the hides of the cows; and the ventila-
tion they get is by means of a hole, of less
than one foot square, in the wall of the lane
that leads to the halfpenny steam-boats.
Maybe you don't know where that is ?"

"I don't know as I do," murmured poor
Mr. Yawl.

"I thought not. Well, that's one of the
kind of places they live in. Other cow-
keepers have sets of cellars, and other under-
ground places; others pack them in yards,
dirty lanes, or any holes and corners, and
often in company with swineand the hof-
fensive hodours are enough to pyson all the
neighbourhood. When cows live in dark
dens, or filthy yards, in the worst of company,
or else with their smooth, hinnocent noses
close up against dead wallswith all manner
of the foulestest accumulations, no drainage,
and no atom of wentilationall of which
causes diseases, sich as mange, and other skin
diseases, besides consumption, and a bad foot,
so bad, sometimes, that the hoof rots off
what sort of milk are such miserable hanimals
as them likely to perdooce?"

"My cow-keeper's cows don't live in such
places," interposed Mr. Yawl, with an effort
to rally; " they live in proper sheds, with
plenty of air, good drainage, and lots to eat."

"Oh, no doubtcertainlythe milk that
comes to you, Mr. Yawl, is quite goodvery
good indeedin the first instancewhew!—
but I was alluding to London cows as they
are for the most part. Then, you talk of
eating! What sort of food do most of the
den-kept, unaired, undrained hanimals get?
If you don't know, I 'll tell you. London
cows, for the most part, are fed from the offal
and sweepings of the London wegetable
markets, and of greengrocers' shops, as was
discovered by Mr. Hodson Rugg, a hintimate
friend of Mr. Dignum's. Cabbage-leaves in
all colours, half-rotten turnips, carrot-tops,
bad potatoes, and such like; and other pro-
vender, as will keep, is stowed away in lofts,
or on shelves just over the cows, so as to
absorb all the bad steams and bad smells that
rise up, which, after a few weeks, don't make
very nice eating. 'Stead of nice fresh wege-
tables, these cow-keepers feed the poor crea-
tures with brewers' and distillers' grains, and
distillers' wash; and Mr. Rugg says it's their
chief article of food, whereby their livers are
very much enlarged, become hard, refuse to
perform their naytural hanatomical hoffice,