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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 432 pages of information about Japhet, in Search of a Father.

“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.”

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