‘I wish to see what he has brought,’ said the other; ’perhaps Baxter, or Jewell’s Apology, either of which would make a valuable addition to our collection. Well, young man, what’s the matter with you?’
I stood like one petrified; I had put my hand into my pocket—the book was gone.
‘What’s the matter?’ repeated the man with the lion countenance, in a voice very much resembling thunder.
‘I have it not—I have lost it!’
‘A pretty story, truly,’ said the precise-looking man, ’lost it! You had better retire,’ said the other.
’How shall I appear before the party who intrusted me with the book? She will certainly think that I have purloined it, notwithstanding all I can say; nor, indeed, can I blame her,—appearances are certainly against me.’
‘They are so—you had better retire.’
I moved towards the door. ’Stay, young man, one word more; there is only one way of proceeding which would induce me to believe that you are sincere.’
‘What is that?’ said I, stopping and looking at him anxiously.
‘The purchase of a Bible.’
‘Purchase!’ said I, ’purchase! I came not to purchase, but to barter; such was my instruction, and how can I barter if I have lost the book?’
The other made no answer, and turning away I made for the door; all of a sudden I started, and turning round, ‘Dear me,’ said I, ’it has just come into my head, that if the book was lost by my negligence, as it must have been, I have clearly a right to make it good.’
‘Yes,’ I repeated, ’I have clearly a right to make it good; how glad I am! see the effect of a little reflection. I will purchase a Bible instantly, that is, if I have not lost—’ and with considerable agitation I felt in my pocket.
The prim-looking man smiled: ‘I suppose,’ said he, ’that he has lost his money as well as book.’
‘No,’ said I, ‘I have not’; and pulling out my hand I displayed no less a sum than three half-crowns.
‘Oh, noble goddess of the Mint!’ as Dame Charlotta Nordenflycht, the Swede, said a hundred and fifty years ago, ’great is thy power; how energetically the possession of thee speaks in favour of man’s character!’
‘Only half-a-crown for this Bible?’ said I, putting down the money, ’it is worth three’; and bowing to the man of the noble features, I departed with my purchase.
‘Queer customer,’ said the prim-looking man, as I was about to close the door—’don’t like him.’
‘Why, as to that, I scarcely know what to say,’ said he of the countenance of a lion.
The pickpocket—Strange rencounter—Drag him along—A great service—Things of importance—Philological matters—Mother of languages—Zhats!