“Very true; but, at all events, I have never been a radical since,” replied Tim. “But to go on. I walked off to the nearest town, and I commenced in a more humble way. I purchased a basket, and then, with the remainder of my money, I bought the commonest crockery ware, such as basins, jugs, mugs, and putting them on my head, off I went again upon my new speculation. I wandered about with my crockery, but it was hard work. I could not reap the profits which I did as a hawker and pedlar. I averaged, however, from seven to nine shillings a week and that was about sufficient for my support. I went down into as many kitchens as would have sufficed to have found a dozen mothers, supposing mine to be a cook; but I did not see anyone who was at all like me. Sometimes a cook replaced a basin she had broken, by giving me as much meat as had cost her mistress five shillings, and thus avoided a scolding, for an article which was worth only two-pence. At other times, a cottager would give me a lodging, and would consider himself rewarded with a mug that only cost me one penny. I was more than three months employed carrying crockery in every direction, and never, during the whole time, broke one article, until one day, as I passed through Eton, there was a regular smash of the whole concern.”
“Indeed, how was that?”
“I met about a dozen of the Eton boys, and they proposed a cockshy, as they called it; that is, I was to place my articles on the top of a post, and they were to throw stones at them at a certain distance, paying me a certain sum for each throw. Well, this I thought a very good bargain, so I put up a mug (worth one penny) at one penny a throw. It was knocked down at the second shot, so it was just as well to put the full price upon them at once, they were such remarkably good aimers at anything. Each boy had a stick, upon which I notched off their throws, and how much they would have to pay when all was over. One article after another was put on the post until my basket was empty, and then I wanted to settle with them; but as soon as I talked about that, they all burst out into a loud laugh, and took to their heels. I chased them, but one might as well have chased eels. If I got hold of one, the others pulled me behind until he escaped, and at last they were all off, and I had nothing left.”
“Not your basket?”
“No, not even that; for while I was busy after some that ran one way, the others kicked my basket before them like a football, until it was fairly out of sight. I had only eight-pence in my pocket, so you perceive, Japhet, how I was going down in the world.”
“You were indeed, Tim.”
Timothy finishes his narrative.