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"Oh! that's my way—I beg ye—I mean that's my way, all as I may say in the way of business. It takes hugely—Two customers together—can't answer both—ask pardon of one —serve the other. Why, sir, it tells in a sight of ways; make a small mistake in a bill—beg your pardon, sir—man tells a little bit of a lie, saving your presence, must beg your pardon, sir. Its all one, always handy—so got into it, and so can't get out of it—that's good—an't it?"
"Thou art a humorist, Mr. Pellett."
"Anan!—Oh humorist, well enough at home, that is—to wife and brats—he! he! ask ye pardon—that won't do in trade—be in good humour with all—you're an ass, says a testy fellow—beg your pardon, sir—I'll knock you down, sirrah— bow the lower; ask pardon again, and he begins to cheapen."
"Thou art at least a politician," smiled Geoffrey.
"Ask ye pardon—never more out in your life —never knew a politician make a fortin in my born life—always steered clear of them there things. Vote for my friend, Mr. Kingsman, says one—beg your pardon, sir, I can't promise. Vote for Mr. Crop, says another—beg pardon, don't meant to vote at all."
"So you surrender your privilege on the score of prudence."
"Why—lauk, never voted but once for a parliament-man, and got enough of it then—never vote again. Why, sir, I ask—I mean, I got a large commission for the Russey market—house failed—fobbed off with two and sixpence in the
VOL. III. N
pound—and lost a venter to Boney's Haris, by giving offence to Alderman Totherside—which neighbour Twostringit took up, and made seven hundred pounds hard cash by."
"Rather hard upon you, Mr. Pellett, as you voted so conscientiously."
"Ay, ay, that's all gammon—what's conscience got to do with voting for a parliament-man? —Never see him again, ten to one—never get nothing out of him a'terwards, unless so be when he's served his seven years—out of his time, as we call it—hey! good—weigh him in his balance again."
"Well, sir, what I would ask of you," said Mr. Geoffrey Owen, interrupting his loquacity, "supposing a man like myself were to enter into business, what is the first step."
"The first step—into a good business, to be sure—hey!"
"I'm not disposed to trifle, Mister Pellet; I ask you a serious question, and desire you to inform me what measures it would be necessary for me to take in order to become a man of business."
"You! he! he! that's a good one—ask ye pardon, thou'lt make an odd figure behind a counter!"
"A counter, sirrah!" ejaculated Geoffrey.
"Why, how wilt carry on business without a counter, I should like to know—that's a good un, an't it!—thee'st not up to business, I take it."
"It is on that account I apply to you—you, sir, are now in possession of the last remaining property of an ancient family, the castle of my forefathers."
"Four fathers!—that's a good one, an't it!— now this comes of being of a great old family!"
"What! why, to ha' four fathers, when I remember it was a joke agen me, as I had ne'er an one."
"Very likely, Mr. Pellett—I speak of those from whom this castle came down to me."
"Odds boddikins, I wonder it hadn't come down upon them long ago—he! he!—Its a tumble down piece o' rubbish, and I dare to say, when we comes to overhaul the timbers, they'll be"
"D—n the timbers, sir, speak to the point, and answer my plain question, how a man like yourself (eyeing the hardwareman somewhat too superciliously) could rise from—from small beginnings into comparative affluence."
"Nothing to be done without a counter, I can tell thee, or without sticking to it—aye, sticking to it—I ask ye pardon."
"Psha—with what capital did you start in business, man?"
"Capital!—come, that's a good one—hey! I ask ye pardon—thank God, I hadn't a brass sixpence to cross myself with—should'nt have been here now, buying castles, as thee call'st 'em—no, no—never knew any body do good in business as begun with any thing."
"Why, confound the man!—how could you get a house, a shop, a hovel, without money?"
"Don't ye be angry—ask ye pardon—got first into a good shop."
"But how—how—that's what I want to know."
"How!—Why by sweeping my way."
"The shop, to be sure."
"Take your own way, sir."
"And so I did, and the best way—so on I goes from sweeping to tramping."
"To be sure—tramping a'ter master's customers wi' parcels and such like—and doing little odds and ends of 'omissions."
"Well, sir, you seem to have taken your degrees."
"Degrees! there's no getting on in any other guess manner; so after that, I got on to scraping."
"Making up your capital, I presume."
"Lord love ye, no such a thing—never thought of capital—always running in thy head—ask ye pardon—scraping my master's door, and putting the best leg foremost, as we have it;" which the honest trader illustrated by making a series of very profound flexions of the body.
"And pray, sir," asked the almost exhausted Mr. Geoffrey Owen, "what did that do for you?"
"Do! made friends."
"By booing and civility."
"Servility, thou meanest"
"Ye; civility, I mean."
"Your advances were slow at least."
"Slow—should like to see thee get on as fast —ask ye pardon, I began to climb like smoke.""Climb! creep, you would say.""I would say no such thing, for I should lie— ask ye pardon—I climbed to the garret—first housed, then lodged, then fed as shopman."
"That was a jump indeed," observed Geoffrey rather contemptuously."Nothing to the next.""What, higher than the garret V
"Higher—a mile—hop, step—and as we has it—from the off side to the near side of the counter."
"In what manner?"
"My own manner, to be sure—master liked my manner—missis liked my manner—customers liked my manner—so they put me on my prefarment, and I riz to be foreman."
"And how did'st thou rise above the counter 1"
"Above the counter! that's a good un, an't it 1—Why, Lord love ye, I couldn't rise higher. It's the nonplush, as we has it—where the dickons would'st thee ha' me go 1—There I stuck, for nobody could move me, 'till I growed to it, like a nailed Brummegem; and it's the awkwardest thing in life to me to go without it."
"I mean to ask, how didst thou rise from the situation of a foreman, to that of master? For such I presume thou wert.""Popped into master's shoes." "By what means?"
"He died one day—popt to his widow—she jumped at it—carried on the concern, and pocketed the old boy's savings as well as my own. He! he! that's a good un, an't it 1"
"For thee—a very good one, friend;—I see I shall make no progress in thy school."
"No!—don't look cut out for it: can't give ye much encouragement—can't bend thee body enough—too upright."