“Well, I walked away, cursing all the Eton boys and all their tutors, who did not teach them honesty as well as Latin and Greek, and put up at a very humble sort of abode, where they sold small beer, and gave beds at two-pence per night, and I may add, with plenty of fleas in the bargain. There I fell in with some ballad singers and mumpers, who were making very merry, and who asked me what was the matter. I told them how I had been treated, and they laughed at me, but gave me some supper, so I forgave them. An old man, who governed the party, then asked me whether I had any money. I produced my enormous capital of eight-pence. ‘Quite enough if you are clever,’ said he; ’quite enough—many a man with half that sum has ended in rolling in his carriage. A man with thousands has only the advance of you a few years. You will pay for your lodging and then spend this sixpence in matches, and hawk them about the town. If you are lucky, it will be a shilling by to-morrow night. Besides, you go down into areas, and sometimes enter a kitchen, when the cook is above stairs. There are plenty of things to be picked up.’ ’But I am not dishonest,’ said I. ’Well, then, every man to his liking; only if you were, you would ride in your own coach the sooner.’ ’And suppose I should lose all this, or none would buy my matches, what then?’ replied I, ‘I shall starve.’ ’Starve—no, no—no one starves in this country; all you have to do is to get into gaol—committed for a month—you will live better perhaps than you ever did before. I have been in every gaol in England, and I know the good ones, for even in gaols there is a great difference. Now the one in this town is one of the best in all England, and I patronises it during the winter.’ I was much amused with the discourse of this mumper, who appeared to be one of the merriest old vagabonds in England. I took his advice, bought six pennyworth of matches, and commenced my new vagrant speculation.
“The first day I picked up three-pence, for one quarter of my stock, and returned to the same place where I had slept the night before, but the fraternity had quitted on an expedition. I spent my two-pence in bread and cheese, and paid one penny for my lodging, and again I started the next morning, but I was very unsuccessful; nobody appeared to want matches that day, and after walking from seven o’clock in the morning, to past seven in the evening, without selling one farthing’s worth, I sat down at the porch of a chapel, quite tired and worn out. At last, I fell asleep, and how do you think I was awoke? by a strong sense of suffocation, and up I sprang, coughing, and nearly choked, surrounded with smoke. Some mischievous boys perceiving that I was fast asleep, had set fire to my matches, as I held them in my hand between my legs, and I did not wake until my fingers were severely burnt. There was an end of my speculation in matches, because there was an end of all my capital.”
“My poor Timothy, I really feel for you.”