“But how shall we account for receiving the two-pence?” said Timothy.
“Selling two vials instead of one: they are never reckoned, you know.”
“That will do capitally,” cried Timothy; “and now for halves.” But this could not be managed until Timothy had run out and changed the sixpence; we then each had our three-pence halfpenny, and for once in our lives could say that we had money in our pockets.
I perform a wonderful
cure upon St John Long’s principle, having
little or no principle of my own—I begin to puzzle my head with a
problem; of all others most difficult to solve.
The success of our first attempt encouraged us to proceed; but afraid that I might do some mischief, I asked of Mr Brookes the nature and qualities of the various medicines, as he was mixing the prescriptions, that I might avoid taking any of those which were poisonous. Mr Brookes, pleased with my continual inquiries, gave me all the information I could desire, and thus I gained, not only a great deal of information, but also a great deal of credit with Mr Cophagus, to whom Mr Brookes had made known my diligence and thirst for knowledge.
“Good—very good,” said Mr Cophagus; “fine boy—learns his business—M.D. one of these days—ride in his coach—um, and so on.” Nevertheless, at my second attempt, I made an awkward mistake, which very nearly led to detection. An Irish labourer, more than half tipsy, came in one evening, and asked whether we had such a thing as was called “A poor man’s plaister. By the powers, it will be a poor man’s plaister when it belongs to me; but they tell me that it is a sure and sartain cure for the thumbago, as they call it, which I’ve at the small of my back, and which is a hinder to my mounting up the ladder; so as it’s Saturday night, and I’ve just got the money, I’ll buy the plaister first, and then try what a little whiskey inside will do, the devil’s in it if it won’t be driven out of me between the two.”
We had not that plaister in the shop, but we had blister plaister, and Timothy, handing one to me, I proffered it to him. “And what may you be after asking for this same?” inquired he.
The blister plaisters were sold at a shilling each, when spread on paper, so I asked him eighteen-pence, that we might pocket the extra sixpence.
“By the powers, one would think that you had made a mistake, and handed me the rich man’s plaister, instead of the poor one’s. It’s less whiskey I’ll have to drink, anyhow; but here’s the money, and the top of the morning to ye, seeing as how it’s jist getting late.”
Timothy and I laughed as we divided the sixpence. It appeared that after taking his allowance of whiskey, the poor fellow fixed the plaister on his back when he went to bed, and the next morning found himself in a condition not be envied. It was a week before we saw him again, and much to the horror of Timothy and myself, he walked into the shop when Mr Brookes was employed behind the counter. Timothy perceived him before he saw us, and pulling me behind the large mortar, we contrived to make our escape into the back parlour, the door of which we held ajar to hear what would take place.