Book the Second - the Golden Thread
14. XIV. The Honest Tradesman
To the eyes of Mr. Jeremiah Cruncher, sitting on his stool in
Fleet-street with his grisly urchin beside him, a vast number and
variety of objects in movement were every day presented. Who could
sit upon anything in Fleet-street during the busy hours of the day,
and not be dazed and deafened by two immense processions, one ever
tending westward with the sun, the other ever tending eastward
from the sun, both ever tending to the plains beyond the range of red
and purple where the sun goes down!
With his straw in his mouth, Mr. Cruncher sat watching the two streams,
like the heathen rustic who has for several centuries been on duty
watching one stream--saving that Jerry had no expectation of their
ever running dry. Nor would it have been an expectation of a hopeful
kind, since a small part of his income was derived from the pilotage
of timid women (mostly of a full habit and past the middle term of life)
from Tellson's side of the tides to the opposite shore. Brief as such
companionship was in every separate instance, Mr. Cruncher never
failed to become so interested in the lady as to express a strong desire
to have the honour of drinking her very good health. And it was from
the gifts bestowed upon him towards the execution of this benevolent
purpose, that he recruited his finances, as just now observed.
Time was, when a poet sat upon a stool in a public place, and mused
in the sight of men. Mr. Cruncher, sitting on a stool in a public place,
but not being a poet, mused as little as possible, and looked about him.
It fell out that he was thus engaged in a season when crowds were few,
and belated women few, and when his affairs in general were so
unprosperous as to awaken a strong suspicion in his breast that
Mrs. Cruncher must have been "flopping" in some pointed manner, when
an unusual concourse pouring down Fleet-street westward, attracted his
attention. Looking that way, Mr. Cruncher made out that some kind of
funeral was coming along, and that there was popular objection to this
funeral, which engendered uproar.
"Young Jerry," said Mr. Cruncher, turning to his offspring,
"it's a buryin'."
"Hooroar, father!" cried Young Jerry.