“I vum!” cried the landlord, as he picked up the coin and rang it on the table. “‘T ain’t often we git sight o’ goold here. How much do yer want fer it?”
“Why, twenty-one shillings,” replied the servant, with some surprise in his voice.
“I’ll givit you dirty-two,” spoke up a Jewish-looking man at the big table, hurriedly pulling out his pouch and counting down a batch of very soiled money from it, which he held out to the servant just as the landlord, too, tendered him some equally ragged bills.
“Trust Opper to give a shilling less than its worth,” jeered one of the drinkers.
“Bai thiccy money, Bagby?” questioned Charles, looking suspiciously at both tenders.
“Not much,” answered Bagby from the group about the large table, not one of whom had missed a word of the foregoing conversation. “’T is shaved beef,”—a joke which called forth not a little laughter from his companions.
“Will it buy a razor?” asked Fownes, quickly, turning to the lawyer with a smile.
“Keep it a week and ’t will shave you itself,” retorted the joker, and this allusion to the steady depreciation of the colony paper money called forth another laugh.
“Then ’t is not blunt?” responded Charles, but no one save the traveller at the small table caught the play on words, the Cockney cant term for money being unfamiliar to American ears. He smiled, and then studied the bond-servant with more interest than he had hitherto shown.
Meanwhile, at the first mention of razor, the Jew had left the room, and he now returned, carrying a great pack, which he placed upon the table.
“Sir,” he said, in an accent which proved his appearance did not belie his race, while beginning to unstrap the bundle, “I haf von be-utiful razor, uf der besd—” but here his speech was interrupted by a roar of laughter.
“You’ve a sharper to deal with now,” laughed the joker, and another called, “Now ye’ll need no razor ter be shaved.”
“Chentlemen, chentlemen,” protested the peddler, “haf n’t I always dealt fair mit you?” He fumbled in his half-opened pack, and shoving three razors out of sight, he produced a fourth, which he held out to the servant. “Dot iss only dree shillings, und it iss der besd of steel.”
“You can trust Opper to know pretty much everything ’bout steals,” sneered Bagby, who was clearly the local wit. “It ’s been his business for twenty years.”
“I want a sharp razor, not a razor sharp,” said Charles, good-naturedly, while taking the instrument and trying its edge with his finger.
“What business hez a bond-servant tew spend money fer a razor?” demanded the tavern-keeper, for nothing then so marked the distinction between the well-bred and the unbred as the smooth faces of the one and the hairy faces of the other.
“Hasn’t he a throat to cut?” demanded one of the group, “an’ hasn’t a covenant man reason to cut it?”