Immediately after the departure of Mr. Stevens, Master Kinch began to consider the propriety of closing the establishment for the night. Sliding down from the counter, where he had been seated, reflecting upon the strange conduct of his recent customer, he said, “I feels rather queer round about here,” laying his hand upon his stomach; “and I’m inclined to think that some of them ’ere Jersey sausages and buckwheat cakes that the old man has been stuffing himself with, wouldn’t go down slow. Rather shabby in him not to come back, and let me go home, and have a slap at the wittles. I expect nothing else, but that he has eat so much, that he’s fell asleep at the supper-table, and won’t wake up till bedtime. He’s always serving me that same trick.”
The old man thus alluded to was no other than Master Kinch’s father, who had departed from the shop two or three hours previously, promising to return immediately after tea.
This promise appeared to have entirely faded from his recollection, as he was at that moment, as Kinch had supposed, fast asleep, and totally oblivious of the fact that such a person as his hungry descendant was in existence.
Having fully come to the conclusion to suspend operations for the evening, Kinch made two or three excursions into the street, returning each time laden with old hats, coats, and shoes. These he deposited on the counter without order or arrangement, muttering, as he did so, that the old man could sort ’em out in the morning to suit himself. The things being all brought from the street, he had only to close the shutters, which operation was soon effected, and our hungry friend on his way home.
The next morning Mr. De Younge (for the father of Kinch rejoiced in that aristocratic cognomen) was early at his receptacle for old clothes, and it being market-day, he anticipated doing a good business. The old man leisurely took down the shutters, assorted and hung out the old clothes, and was busily engaged in sweeping out the store, when his eye fell upon the paper dropped by Mr. Stevens the evening previous.
“What’s dis ‘ere,” said he, stooping to pick it up; “bill or suthin’ like it, I s’pose. What a trial ‘tis not to be able to read writin’; don’t know whether ’tis worth keeping or not; best save it though till dat ar boy of mine comes, he can read it—he’s a scholar. Ah, de children now-a-days has greater ’vantages than deir poor fathers had.”
Whilst he was thus soliloquizing, his attention was arrested by the noise of footsteps in the other part of the shop, and looking up, he discerned the tall form of Mr. Walters.
“Why, bless me,” said the old man, “dis is an early visit; where you come from, honey, dis time o’ day?”
“Oh, I take a walk every morning, to breathe a little of the fresh air; it gives one an appetite for breakfast, you know. You’ll let me take the liberty of sitting on your counter, won’t you?” he continued; “I want to read a little article in a newspaper I have just purchased.”