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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-12-17 15:00:34
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Before the next course was over Mr. Pontifex had recovered his temper, and from that time to the end of the evening he was at his best. He told us all about the water from the Jordan; how it had been brought by Dr. Jones along with some stone jars of water from the Rhine, the Rhone, the Elbe, and the Danube, and what trouble he had had with them at the Custom Houses, and how the intention had been to make punch with waters from all the greatest rivers in Europe; and how he, Mr. Pontifex, had saved the Jordan water from going into the bowl, etc., etc. No, no, no,” he continued, it wouldn’t have done at all, you know; very profane idea; so we each took a pint bottle of it home with us, and the punch was much better without it. I had a narrow escape with mine, though, the other day; I fell over a hamper in the cellar, when I was getting it up to bring to Battersby, and if I had not taken the greatest care the bottle would certainly have been broken, but I saved it.” And Gelstrap was standing behind his chair all the time.

No genuine hero of romance should have hesitated for a moment. Nothing should have cajoled or frightened him into telling tales out of school. Ernest thought of his ideal boys: they, he well knew, would have let their tongues be cut out of them before information could have been wrung from any word of theirs. But Ernest was not an ideal boy, and he was not strong enough for his surroundings; I doubt how far any boy could withstand the moral pressure which was brought to bear upon him; at any rate he could not do so, and after a little more writhing he yielded himself a passive prey to the enemy. He consoled himself with the reflection that his papa had not played the confidence trick on him quite as often as his mamma had, and that probably it was better he should tell his father, than that his father should insist on Dr. Skinner’s making an enquiry. His papa’s conscience jabbered” a good deal, but not as much as his mamma’s. The little fool forgot that he had not given his father as many chances of betraying him as he had to Christina.

Mr. Shaw said he knew Historic Doubts” very well.

I said I did not mind if I did, so we began to make our arrangements next morning, and completed them within a very few days.

But Ellen did not want him to buy at auctions — not much at least at present. Private dealing, she said, was best. If I, for example, had any cast-off clothes, he was to buy them from my laundress, and get a connection with other laundresses to whom he might give a trifle more than they got at present for whatever clothes their masters might give them, and yet make a good profit. If gentlemen sold their things, he was to try and get them to sell to him. He flinched at nothing; perhaps he would have flinched if he had had any idea how outre his proceedings were, but the very ignorance of the world which had ruined him up till now, by a happy irony began to work its own cure. If some malignant fairy had meant to curse him in this respect, she had overdone her malice. He did not know he was doing anything strange. He only knew that he had no money, and must provide for himself, a wife, and a possible family. More than this, he wanted to have some leisure in an evening, so that he might read and write and keep up his music. If anyone would show him how he could do better than he was doing, he should be much obliged to them, but to himself it seemed that he was doing sufficiently well; for at the end of the first week the pair found they had made a clear profit of L3. In a few weeks this had increased to L4, and by the New Year they had made a profit of L5 in one week.

May Heaven prosper them and you, and restore you to us years hence a respected member of society. — Your affectionate father,


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