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I ask you-say 15 minits—and then wats to be did ?
DR. WILLUM MARIGOLD.
I AM a Cheap Jack, and my father's name was Willum Marigold. It was in his lifetime supposed by some that his name was William, but my father always consistently said, No, it was Willum. On which point I content myself with looking at the argument this way: If a man is not allowed to know his own name in a free country, how much is he allowed to know in a land of slavery?
I was born on the Queen's highway, but it was the King's at that time. The doctor being a very kind gentleman, and accepting no fee but a tea-tray, I was named Doctor, out of gratitude and compliment to him. There you have me. Doctor Marigold.
The doctor having accepted a tea-tray, you'll guess that my father was a Cheap Jack before me. You are right. He
And my father was a lovely one in. his time at the Cheap Jack work. Now I'll tell you what. I mean to go down into my grave declaring that, of all the callings ill-used in Great Britain, the Cheap Jack calling is the worst used. Why ain't we a profession? Why ain't we endowed with privileges? Why are we forced to take out a hawker's license, when no such thing is expected of the political hawkers? Where's the difference betwixt us? Except that we are Cheap Jacks and they are Dear Jacks. I don't see any difference but what's in our favor.
For look here! Say its election time. I am on the footboard of my cart in the market-place on a Saturday night. I put up a general miscellaneous lot. I say: “Now here, my free and independent woters, I'm agoing to give you such a chance as you never had in all your born days, nor yet the days preceding. Now I'll show you what I am going to do
Here's a pair of razors that'll shave you closer than the Board of Guardians; here's a flatiron worth its weight in gold; here's a frying-pan artificially flavored with essence of beefsteaks to that degree that you've only got for the rest of your lives to fry bread and dripping in it, and there you are replete with animal food; here's a genuine chronometer watch in such a solid silver case that you may knock at the door with it when you come home late from a social meeting, and rouse your wife and family and save up your knocker for the postman; and here's half-a-dozen dinner-plates that you may play the cymbals with to charm the baby when it's fractious. Stop. I'll throw you in another article, and I'll give you that, and it's a rolling-pin, and if the baby can only get it well into its mouth when its teeth coming, and rub the gums once with it, they'll come through double, in a fit of laughter, equal to being tickled. Stop again! I'll throw you in another article, because I don't like the looks of you, for you haven't the appearance of buyers unless I lose by you, and because I'd rather lose than not take money to-night, and that article's a looking-glass, in which
you may see how ugly you look when you don't bid. What do you say now? Come !
Come! Do you say a pound ? Not you, for you haven't got it. Do you say ten shillings? Not you, for you owe more to the tallyman. Well, then, I'll tell you what I'll do with you. I'll heap 'em all on the footboard of the cart,—there they are ! razors, flatiron, frying-pan, chronometer watch, dinner-plates, rolling-pin and lookingglass,-take 'em all away for four shillings, and I'll give you sixpence for your trouble!” This is me, the Cheap Jack.
I courted my wife from the footboard of the cart. I did, indeed. She was a Suffolk young woman, and it was in Ipswich market-place, right opposite the corn-chandler's shop. I had noticed her up at a window last Saturday that was, appreciating highly. I had took to her, and I had said to myself: “ If not already disposed of, I'll have that lot.” Next Saturday that come, I pitched the cart on the same pitch, and I was in very high feather indeed, keeping 'em laughing the whole of the time, and getting off the goods briskly. At last I took out of my waistcoat-pocket a small lot wrapped in soft paper, and I put it this way (looking up at the window where she was): * Now here, my blooming English maidens, is a article, the last article of the present evening's sale, which I offer to only you, the lovely Suffolk Dumplings biling over with beauty, and I won't take a bid of a thousand pound from any man alive. Now what is it? Why I'll tell you what it is. It's made of fine gold, and it's not broke, though there's a hole in the middle of it, and it's stronger than any fetter that ever was forged, though it's smaller than any finger in my set of ten. Why ten? Because when my parents made over my property to me, I tell you true, there was twelve sheets, twelve towels, twelve tablecloths, twelve knives, twelve forks, twelve tablespoons, and twelve teaspoons, but my set of fingers was too short of a dozen and could never since be matched. Now what else is it? Come, l'll tell you. It's a hoop of solid gold, wrapped in a silver curl-paper that I myself took off the shining locks of the ever beautiful old lady in Threadneedle street, London city. I wouldn't tell you so if I hadn't the paper to show, or you mightn't believe it even of me. Now what else is it? It's a man-trap and a handcuff
, the parish stocks and a leg-lock, all in gold and all in one. Now what else is it? It's a wedding ring. Now I'll tell you what I'm
agoing to do with it. I'm not going to offer this lot for money, but I mean to give it to the next of you beauties that laughs, and I'll pay her a visit to-morrow morning at exactly half after nine o'clock as the chimes go, and I'll take her out for a walk to put up the banns.” She laughed, and got the ring handed up to her. When I called in the morning, she says, “O dear! It's never you, and you never mean it?' “ It's ever me,
says I, “and I'm ever yours, and I ever mean it." So we got married, after being put up three times,—which, by the by, is quite in the Cheap Jack way, again, and shows once more how the Cheap Jack customs pervade society.
She wasn't a bad wife, but she had a temper. If she could have parted with that one article at a sacrifice, I wouldn't have swopped her away in exchange for any other woman in England. Not that I ever did swop her away, for we lived together till she died, and that was thirteen year. Now, my lords and ladies and gentlefolks all, I'll let you into
a secret, though you won't believe it. Thirteen years of temper in a palace would try the worst of you, but thirteen year of temper in a cart would try the best of you. You are kept so very close to it in a cart, you see. There's thousands of couples among you, getting on like sweet-ile upon a whetstone, in houses five and six pairs of stairs high, that would go the Divorce Court in a cart. Whether the jolting makes it worse, I don't undertake to decide, but in a cart it does come home to you and stick to you. Wiolence in a cart is so wiolent, and aggrawation in a cart is so aggrawating.
My dog knew as well when she was on the turn as I did. Before she broke out he would give a howl, and bolt. How he knew it was a mystery to me; but the sure and certain knowledge of it would wake him up out of his soundest sleep, and he would give a howl, and bolt. At such times I wished I was him.
MR. CAUDLE HAVING LENT FIVE POUNDS TO A
You ought to be very rich, Mr. Caudle. I wonder who'd lend you five pounds! But so it is; a wife may work and slave. Oh, dear! the many things that might have been done with five pounds! As if people picked up money in the streets ! But you always were a fool, Mr. Caudle! I've wanted a black satin gown these three years, and that five pounds would have pretty well bought it. But it's no matter how I go-not at all. Everybody says I don't dress as becomes your wife—and I don't; but what's that to you, Mr. Caudle? Nothing! Oh, no! you can have fine feelings for everybody but those that belong to you. I wish people knew you as I do—that's all. You like to be called liberal—and your poor family pays for it.
All the girls want bonnets, and when they're to get 'em I can't tell. Half five pounds would have bought 'em—but now they must go without. Of course, they belong to you; and anybody but your own flesh and blood, Mr. Caudle.
The man called for the water-rate to-day; but I should like to know how people are to pay taxes who throw away five pounds to every fellow that asks them.
Perhaps you don't know that Jack, this morning, knocked the shuttlecock through his bedroom window. I was going to send for the glazier to mend it; but, after you lent that five pounds, I was sure we couldn't afford it. Oh, no! the window must go as it is; and pretty weather for a dear child to sleep with a broken window. He's got a cold already on his lungs, and I shouldn't at all wonder if that broken window settled him. If the dear boy dies his death will be upon his father's head; for I'm sure we can't now pay to mend windows. We might, though, and do a good many more things, if pe ple didn't throw away their five pounds.
Next Tuesday the fire insurance is due. I should like to know how it's to be paid. Why, it can't be paid at all. That five pounds would have just done it-and now insurance is out of the question. And there never were so many fires as there are now. I shall never close my eyes all night; but what's that to you, so people can call you liberal, Mr. Caudle? Your wife and children may all be burnt alive in their beds—as all of us to a certainty shall be, for the insurance must drop.