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72. CHAPTER LXXII (continued)
So far from disliking this work or finding it tedious, he liked it very much, indeed he would have liked anything which did not overtax his physical strength, and which held out a prospect of bringing him in money. Ellen would not let him buy anything on the occasion of this sale; she said he had better see one sale first and watch how prices actually went. So at twelve o'clock when the sale began, he saw the lots sold which he and Ellen had marked, and by the time the sale was over he knew enough to be able to bid with safety whenever he should actually want to buy. Knowledge of this sort is very easily acquired by anyone who is in bona fide want of it.
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 3 pounds. In a few weeks this had increased to 4 pounds, and by the New Year they had made a profit of 5 pounds in one week.
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