Lark Rise to Candleford, by Flora Thompson

7

Callers

Callers made a pleasant diversion in the hamlet women’s day, and there were more of these than might have been expected. The first to arrive on Monday morning was old Jerry Parish with his cartload of fish and fruit. As he served some of the big houses on his round, Jerry carried quite a large stock; but the only goods he took round to the doors at Lark Rise were a box of bloaters and a basket of small, sour oranges. The bloaters were sold at a penny each and the oranges at three a penny. Even at these prices they were luxuries; but, as it was still only Monday and a few coppers might remain in a few purses, the women felt at liberty to crowd round his cart to examine and criticize his wares, even if they bought nothing.

Two or three of them would be tempted to buy a bloater for their midday meal, but it had to be a soft-roed one, for, in nearly every house there were children under school age at home; so the bloater had to be shared, and the soft roes spread upon bread for the smallest ones.

‘Lor’ blime me!’ Jerry used to say. ‘Never knowed such a lot in me life for soft roes. Good job I ain’t a soft-roed ’un or I should’ve got aten up meself before now.’ And he pinched the bloaters between his great red fingers, pretended to consider the matter with his head on one side, then declared each separate fish had the softest of soft roes, whether it had or not. ‘Oozin’, simply oozin’ with goodness, I tell ye!’ and oozing it certainly was when released from his grip. ‘But what’s the good of one bloater amongst the lot of ye? Tell ye what I’ll do,’ he would urge. ‘I’ll put ye in these three whoppers for tuppence-ha’penny.’

It was no good. The twopence-halfpenny was never forthcoming; even the penny could so ill be spared that the purchaser often felt selfish and greedy after she had parted with it; but, after a morning at the washtub, she needed a treat so badly, and a bloater made a tasty change from her usually monotonous diet.

The oranges were tempting, too, for the children loved them. It was one of their greatest treats to find oranges on the mantelshelf when they came home from school in winter. Sour they might be and hard and skinny within; but without how rich and glowing! and what a strange foreign scent pervaded the room when their mother divided each one into quarters and distributed them. Even when the pulp had been eaten, the peel remained, to be dried on the hob and taken to school to chew in class or ‘swopped’ for conkers or string or some other desirable object.

Jerry’s cart had a great attraction for Laura. At the sound of his wheels she would run out to feast her eyes on the lovely rich colours of grapes and pears and peaches. She loved to see the fish, too, with their cool colours and queer shapes, and would imagine them swimming about in the sea or resting among the seaweed. ‘What is that one called?’ she asked one day, pointing to a particularly queer-looking one.

‘That’s a John Dory, me dear. See them black marks? Look like finger-marks, don’t ’em? An’ they do say that they be finger-marks. He made ’em, that night, ye know, when they was fishin’, ye know, an’ He took some an’ cooked ’em all ready for ’em, an’ ever since, they say, that ivery John Dory as comes out o’ th’ sea have got His finger-marks on ’un.’

Laura was puzzled, for Jerry had mentioned no name and he was, moreover, a drinking, swearing old man, little likely, as she thought, to repeat a sacred legend.

‘Do you mean the Sea of Galilee?’ she asked timidly.

‘That’s it, me dear. That’s what they say, whether true or not, of course, I don’t know; but there be the finger-marks, right enough, an’ that’s what they say in our trade.’

It was on Jerry’s cart tomatoes first appeared in the hamlet. They had not long been introduced into this country and were slowly making their way into favour. The fruit was flatter in shape then than now and deeply grooved and indented from the stem, giving it an almost starlike appearance. There were bright yellow ones, too, as well as the scarlet; but, after a few years, the yellow ones disappeared from the market and the red ones became rounder and smoother, as we see them now.

At first sight, the basket of red and yellow fruit attracted Laura’s colour-loving eye. ‘What are those?’ she asked old Jerry.

‘Love-apples, me dear. Love-apples, they be; though some hignorant folks be a callin’.’em tommytoes. But you don’t want any o’ they — nasty sour things, they be, as only gentry can eat. You have a nice sweet orange wi’ your penny.’ But Laura felt she must taste the love-apples and insisted upon having one.

Such daring created quite a sensation among the onlookers. ‘Don’t ‘ee go tryin’ to eat it, now,’ one woman urged. ‘It’ll only make ‘ee sick. I know because I had one of the nasty horrid things at our Minnie’s.’ And nasty, horrid things tomatoes remained in the popular estimation for years; though most people today would prefer them as they were then, with the real tomato flavour pronounced, to the watery insipidity of our larger, smoother tomato.

Mr. Wilkins, the baker, came three times a week. His long, lank figure, girded by a white apron which always seemed about to slip down over his hips, was a familiar one at the end house. He always stayed there for a cup of tea, for which he propped himself up against the end of the dresser. He would never sit down; he said he had not time, and that was why he did not stop to change his flour-dusty bakehouse clothes before he started on his round.

He was no ordinary baker, but a ship’s carpenter by trade who had come to the neighbouring village on a visit to relatives, met his present wife, married her, and cast anchor inland. Her father was old, she was the only child, and the family business had to be attended to; so, partly for love and partly for future gain he had given up the sea, but he still remained a sailor at heart.

He would stand in the doorway of Laura’s home and look out at the wheatfields billowing in the breeze and the white clouds hurrying over them, and say: ‘All very fine; but it seems a bit dead to me, right away from the sea, like this.’ And he would tell the children how the waves pile up in a storm, ‘like the wall of a house coming down on your ship’, and about other seas, calm and bright as a looking-glass, with little islands and palm trees-but treacherous, too — and treacherous little men living in palm leaf huts, ‘their faces as brown as your frock, Laura.’ Once he had been shipwrecked and spent nine days in an open boat, the last two without water. His tongue had stuck to the roof of his mouth and he had spent weeks after rescue in hospital.

‘And yet,’ he would say, ‘I’d dearly love just one more trip; but my dear wife would cry her eyes out if I mentioned it, and the business, of course, couldn’t be left. No. I’ve swallowed the anchor, all right. I’ve swallowed the anchor.’

Mr. Wilkins brought the image of the real living sea to the end house; otherwise the children would have only known it in pictures. True, their mother in her nursing days had been to the seaside with her charges and had many pleasant stories to tell of walks on piers, digging on sands, gathering seaweed, and shrimping with nets. But the seaside was different — delightful in its way, no doubt, but nothing like the wide tumbling ocean with ships on it.

The only portion of the sea which came their way was contained in a medicine bottle which a hamlet girl in service at Brighton brought home as a curiosity. In time the bottle of sea-water became the property of a younger sister, a school-fellow of Laura’s, who was persuaded to barter it for a hunch of cake and a blue-bead necklace. Laura treasured it for years.

Many casual callers passed through the hamlet. Travelling tinkers with their barrows, braziers, and twirling grindstones turned aside from the main road and came singing:

Any razors or scissors to grind?

Or anything else in the tinker’s line?

Any old pots or kettles to mend?

After squinting into any leaking vessel against the light, or trying the edges of razors or scissors upon the hard skin of their palms, they would squat by the side of the road to work, or start their emery wheel whizzing, to the delight of the hamlet children, who always formed a ring around any such operations.

Gipsy women with cabbage-nets and clothes-pegs to sell were more frequent callers for they had a camping-place only a mile away and no place was too poor to yield them a harvest. When a door was opened to them, if the housewife appeared to be under forty, they would ask in a wheedling voice: ‘Is your mother at home, my dear?’ Then, when the position was explained, they would exclaim in astonished tones: ‘You don’t mean to tell me you be the mother? Look at that, now. I shouldn’t have taken you to be a day over twenty.’

No matter how often repeated, this compliment was swallowed whole, and made a favourable opening for a long conversation, in the course of which the wily ‘Egyptian’ not only learned the full history of the woman’s own family, but also a good deal about those of her neighbours, which was duly noted for future use. Then would come a request for ‘handful of little ‘taters, or an onion or two for the pot’, and, if these were given, as they usually were, ‘My pretty lady’ would be asked for an old shift of her own or an old shirt of her husband’s, or anything that the children might have left off, and, poverty-stricken though the hamlet was, a few worn-out garments would be secured to swell the size of the bundle which, afterwards, would be sold to the rag merchant.

Sometimes the gipsies would offer to tell fortunes; but this offer was always refused, not out of scepticism or lack of curiosity about the future, but because the necessary silver coin was not available. ‘No, thank ‘ee,’ the women would say. ‘I don’t want nothink of that sort. My fortune’s already told.’

‘Ah, my lady! you med think so; but them as has got childern never knows. You be born, but you ain’t dead yet, an’ you may dress in silks and ride in your own carriage yet. You wait till that fine strappin’ boy o’ yourn gets rich. He won’t forget his mother, I’ll bet!’ and after this free prognostication, they would trail off to the next house, leaving behind a scent as strong as a vixen’s.

The gipsies paid in entertainment for what they received. Their calls made a welcome break in the day. Those of the tramps only harrowed the feelings and left the depressed in spirit even more depressed.

There must have been hundreds of tramps on the roads at that time. It was a common sight, when out for a walk, to see a dirty, unshaven man, his rags topped with a battered bowler, lighting a fire of sticks by the roadside to boil his tea-can. Sometimes he would have a poor bedraggled woman with him and she would be lighting the fire while he lolled at ease on the turf or picked out the best pieces from the bag of food they had collected at their last place of call.

Some of them carried small, worthless things to sell — matches, shoe-laces, or dried lavender bags. The children’s mother often bought from these out of pity; but never from the man who sold oranges, for they had seen him on one of their walks, spitting on his oranges and polishing them with a filthy rag. Then there was the woman who, very early one morning, knocked at the door with small slabs of tree-bark in her apron. She was cleaner and better-dressed than the ordinary tramp and brought with her a strong scent of lavender. The bark appeared to be such as could have been hacked with a clasp-knife from the nearest pine tree; but she claimed for it a very different origin. It was the famous lavender bark, she said, brought from foreign parts by her sailor son. One fragment kept among clothes was not only an everlasting perfume, but it was also death to moths. ‘You just smell it, my dears,’ she said, handing pieces to the mother and the children, who had crowded to the door.

It certainly smelt strongly of lavender. The children handled it lovingly, fascinated by a substance which had travelled so far and smelt so sweetly.

She asked sixpence a slab; but obligingly came down to twopence, and three pieces were purchased and placed in a fancy bowl on the side table to perfume the room and to be exhibited as a rarity.

Alas! the vendor had barely time to clear out of the hamlet before all the perfume had evaporated and the bark became what it had been before she sprinkled it with oil of lavender — just ordinary bark from a pine trunk!

Such brilliance was exceptional. Most of the tramps were plain beggars. ‘Please could you give me a morsel of bread, for I be so hungry. I’m telling God I haven’t put a bite between my lips since yesterday morning’ was a regular formula with them when they knocked at the door of a cottage; and, although many of them looked well-nourished, they were never turned away. Thick slices, which could ill be spared, were plastered with lard; the cold potatoes which the housewife had intended to fry for her own dinner were wrapped in newspaper, and by the time they left the hamlet they were insured against starvation for at least a week. The only reward for such generosity, beyond the whining professional ‘God bless ye’, was the cheering reflection that however badly off one might be oneself, there were others poorer.

Where all these wayfarers came from or how they had fallen so low in the social scale was uncertain. According to their own account, they had been ordinary decent working people with homes ‘just such another as yourn, mum’; but their houses had been burned down or flooded, or they had fallen out of work, or spent a long time in hospital and had never been able to start again. Many of the women pleaded that their husbands were dead, and several men came begging with the plea that, having lost their wives, they had the children to look after and could not leave them to work for their living.

Sometimes whole families took to the road with their bags and bundles and tea-cans, begging their food as they went and sleeping in casual wards or under ricks or in ditches. Laura’s father, coming home from work at dusk one night, thought he heard a rustling in the ditch by the roadside. When he looked down into it, a row of white faces looked up at him, belonging to a mother, a father, and three or four children. He said that in the half light only their faces were visible and that they looked like a set of silver coins, ranging from a florin to a threepenny bit. Though late in the summer, the night was not cold. ‘Thank God for that!’ said the children’s mother when she heard about them, for, had it been cold, he might have brought them all home with him. He had brought home tramps before and had them sit at table with the family, to his wife’s disgust, for he had what she considered peculiar ideas on hospitality and the brotherhood of man.

There was no tallyman, or Johnny Fortnight, in those parts; but once, for a few months, a man who kept a small furniture shop in a neighbouring town came round selling his wares on the instalment plan. On his first visit to Lark Rise he got no order at all; but on his second one of the women, more daring than the rest, ordered a small wooden washstand and a zinc bath for washing day. Immediately washstands and zinc baths became the rage. None of the women could think how they had managed to exist so long without a washstand in their bedroom. They were quite satisfied with the buckets and basins of water in the pantry or by the fireside or out of doors for their own use; but supposing some one fell ill and the doctor had to wash his hands in a basin placed on a clean towel on the kitchen table! or supposing some of their town relatives came on a visit, those with a real sink and water laid on! They felt they would die with mortification if they had to apologize for having no washstand. As to the zinc bath, that seemed even more necessary. That wooden tub their mother had used was ‘a girt okkard old thing’. Although they had not noticed its weight much before, it seemed almost to break their backs when they could see a bright, shining new bath hanging under the eaves of the next-door barn.

It was not long before practically every house had a new bath and washstand. A few mothers of young children went farther and ordered a fireguard as well. Then the fortnightly payments began. One-and-six was the specified instalment, and, for the first few fortnights, this was forthcoming. But it was so difficult to get that eighteenpence together. A few pence had always to be used out of the first week’s ninepence, then in the second week some urgent need for cash would occur. The instalments fell to a shilling. Then to sixpence. A few gave up the struggle and defaulted.

Month after month the salesman came round and collected what he could; but he did not try to tempt them to buy anything more, for he could see that he would never be paid for it. He was a good-hearted man who listened to their tales of woe and never bullied or threatened to County Court them. Perhaps the debts were not as important to him as they appeared to his customers; or he may have felt he was to blame for tempting them to order things they could not afford. He continued calling until he had collected as much as he thought possible, then disappeared from the scene.

A more amusing episode was that of the barrels of beer. At that time in that part of the country, brewers’ travellers, known locally as ‘outriders’, called for orders at farm-houses and superior cottages, as well as at inns. No experienced outrider visited farm labourers’ cottages; but the time came when a beginner, full of youthful enthusiasm and burning to fill up his order book, had the brilliant idea of canvassing the hamlet for orders.

Wouldn’t it be splendid, he asked the women, to have their own nine-gallon cask of good ale in for Christmas, and only have to go into the pantry and turn the tap to get a glass for their husband and friends. The ale cost far less by the barrel than when bought at the inn. It would be an economy in the long run, and how well it would look to bring out a jug of foaming ale from their own barrel for their friends. As to payment, they sent in their bills quarterly, so there would be plenty of time to save up.

The women agreed that it would, indeed, be splendid to have their own barrel, and even the men, when told of the project at night, were impressed by the difference in price when buying by the nine-gallon cask. Some of them worked it out on paper and were satisfied that, considering that they would be spending a few shillings extra at Christmas in any case, and that the missus had been looking rather peaked lately and a glass of good beer cost less than doctor’s physic, and that maybe a daughter in service would be sending a postal order, they might venture to order the cask.

Others did not trouble to work it out; but, enchanted with the idea, gave the order lightheartedly. After all, as the outrider said, Christmas came but once a year, and this year they would have a jolly one. Of course there were kill-joys, like Laura’s father, who said sardonically: ‘They’ll laugh the other side of their faces when it comes to paying for it.’

The barrels came and were tapped and the beer was handed around. The barrels were empty and the brewer’s carter in his leather apron heaved them into the van behind his steaming, stamping horses; but none of the mustard or cocoa tins hidden away in secret places contained more than a few coppers towards paying the bill. When the day of reckoning came only three of the purchasers had the money ready. But time was allowed. Next month would do; but, mind! it must be forthcoming then. Most of the women tried hard to get that money together; but, of course, they could not. The traveller called again and again, each time growing more threatening, and, after some months, the brewer took the matter to the County Court, where the judge, after hearing the circumstances of sale and the income of the purchasers, ordered them all to pay twopence weekly off the debt. So ended the great excitement of having one’s own barrel of beer on tap.

The packman, or pedlar, once a familiar figure in that part of the country, was seldom seen in the ‘eighties. People had taken to buying their clothes at the shops in the market town, where fashions were newer and prices lower. But one last survivor of the once numerous clan still visited the hamlet at long and irregular intervals.

He would turn aside from the turnpike and come plodding down the narrow hamlet road, an old white-headed, white-bearded man, still hale and rosy, although almost bent double under the heavy, black canvas-covered pack he carried strapped on his shoulders. ‘Anything out of the pack today?’ he would ask at each house, and, at the least encouragement, fling down his load and open it on the door-step. He carried a tempting variety of goods: dress-lengths and shirt-lengths and remnants to make up for the children; aprons and pinafores, plain and fancy; corduroys for the men, and coloured scarves and ribbons for Sunday wear.

‘That’s a bit of right good stuff, ma’am, that is,’ he would say, holding up some dress-length to exhibit it. ‘A gown made of this piece’d last anybody for ever and then make ’em a good petticoat afterwards.’ Few of the hamlet women could afford to test the quality of his piece goods; cottons or tapes, or a paper of pins, were their usual purchases; but his dress-lengths and other fabrics were of excellent quality and wore much longer than any one would wish anything to wear in these days of rapidly changing fashions. It was from his pack the soft, warm woollen, grey with a white fleck in it, came to make the frock Laura wore with a little black satin apron and a bunch of snowdrops pinned to the breast when she went to sell stamps in the post office.

Once every summer a German band passed through the hamlet and halted outside the inn to play. It was composed of an entire family, a father and his six sons, the latter graded in size like a set of jugs, from the tall young man who played the cornet to the chubby pink-faced little boy who beat the drum.

Drawn up in the semicircle in their neat, green uniforms, they would blow away at their instruments until their chubby German cheeks seemed near to bursting point. Most of the music they played was above the heads of the hamlet folks, who said they liked something with a bit more ‘chune’ in it; but when, at the end of the performance, they gave God Save the Queen the standers-by joined with gusto in singing it.

That was the sign for the landlord to come out in his shirt-sleeves with three frothing beer mugs. One for the father, who poured the beer down his throat like water down a sink, and the other two to be passed politely from son to son. Unless a farmer’s gig or a tradesman’s trap happened to pull up at the inn gate during the performance, the beer was their only reward for the entertainment. They did not take their collecting bag round to the women and children who had gathered to listen, for they knew from experience there were no stray halfpence for German bands in a farm labourer’s wife’s pocket. So after shaking the saliva from their brass instruments, they bowed, clicked their heels, and marched off up the dusty road to the mother village. It was good beer and they were hot and thirsty, so perhaps the reward was sufficient.

The only other travelling entertainment which came there was known as the dancing dolls. These, alas! did not dance in the open, but in a cottage to which a penny admission was charged, and, as the cottage was not of the cleanest, Laura was never allowed to witness this performance. Those who had seen them said the dolls were on wires and that the man who exhibited them said the words for them, so it must have been some kind of marionette show.

Once, very early in their school life, the end house children met a man with a dancing bear. The man, apparently a foreigner, saw that the children were afraid to pass, and, to reassure them, set his bear dancing. With a long pole balanced across its front paws, it waltzed heavily to the tune hummed by its master, then shouldered the pole and did exercises at his word of command. The elders of the hamlet said the bear had appeared there at long intervals for many years; but that was its last appearance. Poor Bruin, with his mangy fur and hot, tainted breath, was never seen in those parts again. Perhaps he died of old age.

The greatest thrill of all and the one longest remembered in the hamlet, was provided by the visit of a cheap-jack about half-way through the decade. One autumn evening, just before dusk, he arrived with his cartload of crockery and tinware and set out his stock on the grass by the roadside before a back-cloth painted with icebergs and penguins and polar bears. Soon he had his naphtha lamps flaring and was clashing his basins together like bells and calling: ‘Come buy! Come buy!’

It was the first visit of a cheap-jack to the hamlet and there was great excitement. Men, women, and children rushed from the houses and crowded around in the circle of light to listen to his patter and admire his wares. And what bargains he had! The tea-service decorated with fat, full-blown pink roses: twenty-one pieces and not a flaw in any one of them. The Queen had purchased its fellow set for Buckingham Palace, it appeared. The teapots, the trays, the nests of dishes and basins, and the set of bedroom china which made every one blush when he selected the most intimate utensil to rap with his knuckles to show it rang true.

‘Two bob!’ he shouted. ‘Only two bob for this handsome set of jugs. Here’s one for your beer and one for your milk and another in case you break one of the other two. Nobody willing to speculate? Then what about this here set of trays, straight from Japan and the peonies hand-painted; or this lot of basins, exact replicas of the one the Princess of Wales supped her gruel from when Prince George was born. Why damme, they cost me more n’r that. I could get twice the price I’m asking in Banbury tomorrow; but I’ll give ’em to you, for you can’t call it selling, because I like your faces and me load’s heavy for me ‘oss. Alarming bargains! Tremendous sacrifices! Come buy! Come buy!’

But there were scarcely any offers. A woman here and there would give threepence for a large pudding-basin or sixpence for a tin saucepan. The children’s mother bought a penny nutmeg-grater and a set of wooden spoons for cooking; the innkeeper’s wife ran to a dozen tumblers and a ball of string; then there was a long pause during which the vendor kept up a continual stream of jokes and anecdotes which sent his audience into fits of laughter. Once he broke into song:

There was a man in his garden walked

And cut his throat with a lump of chalk;

His wife, she knew not what she did,

She strangled herself with the saucepan lid.

There was a man and a fine young fellow

Who poisoned himself with an umbrella.

Even Joey in his cradle shot himself dead with a silver ladle.

When you hear this horrible tale

It makes your faces all turn pale,

Your eyes go green, you’re overcome,

So tweedle, tweedle, tweedle twum.

All very fine entertainment; but it brought him no money and he began to suspect that he would draw a blank at Lark Rise.

‘Never let it be said,’ he implored, ‘that this is the poverty-strickenist place on God’s earth. Buy something, if only for your own credit’s sake. Here!’ snatching up a pile of odd plates. ‘Good dinner-plates for you. Every one a left-over from a first-class service. Buy one of these and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re eating off the same ware as lords and dukes. Only three-halfpence each. Who’ll buy? Who’ll buy?’

There was a scramble for the plates, for nearly every one could muster three-halfpence; but every time anything more costly was produced there was dead silence. Some of the women began to feel uncomfortable. ‘Don’t be poor and look poor, too’ was their motto, and here they were looking poor indeed, for who, with money in their pockets, could have resisted such wonderful bargains.

Then the glorious unexpected happened. The man had brought the pink rose tea-service forward again and was handing one of the cups round. ‘You just look at the light through it — and you, ma’am-and you. Ain’t it lovely china, thin as an eggshell, practically transparent, and with every one of them roses hand-painted with a brush? You can’t let a set like that go out of the place, now can you? I can see all your mouths a-watering. You run home, my dears, and bring out them stockings from under the mattress and the first one to get back shall have it for twelve bob.’

Each woman in turn handled the cup lovingly, then shook her head and passed it on. None of them had stockings of savings hidden away. But, just as the man was receiving back the cup, a little roughly, for he was getting discouraged, a voice spoke up in the background.

‘How much did you say, mister? Twelve bob? I’ll give you ten.’ It was John Price, who, only the night before, had returned from his soldiering in India. A very ordinary sort of chap at most times, for he was a teetotaller and stood no drinks at the inn, as a returned soldier should have done; but now, suddenly, he became important. All eyes were upon him. The credit of the hamlet was at stake.

‘I’ll give you ten bob.’

‘Can’t be done, matey. Cost me more nor that. But, look see, tell you what I will do. You give me eleven and six and I’ll throw in this handsome silver-gilt vase for your mantelpiece.’

‘Done!’ The bargain was concluded; the money changed hands, and the reputation of the hamlet was rehabilitated. Willing hands helped John carry the tea-service to his home. Indeed, it was considered an honour to be trusted with a cup. His bride-to-be was still away in service and little knew how many were envying her that night. To have such a lovely service awaiting her return, no cracked or odd pieces, every piece alike and all so lovely; lucky, lucky, Lucy! But though they could not help envying her a little, they shared in her triumph, for surely such a purchase must shed a glow of reflected prosperity on the whole hamlet. Though it might not be convenient to all of them to buy very much on that particular night, the man must see there was a bit of money in the place and folks who knew how to spend it.

What came after was anti-climax, and yet very pleasant from the end house children’s point of view. A set of pretty little dishes, suitable for holding jam, butter or fruit, according to size, was being exhibited. The price had gone down from half a crown to a shilling without response, when once more a voice spoke up in the background. ‘Pass them over, please. I expect my wife can find a use for them,’ and, behold, it was the children’s father who had halted on his way home from work to see what the lights and the crowd meant.

Perhaps in all the man took a pound that night, which was fifteen shillings more than any one could have foretold; but it was not sufficient to tempt him to come again, and thenceforth the year was dated as ‘that time the cheap-jack came’.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 20:33