Growling, in addition, such phrases as “Ah! yes! You’re religious, too. You
wouldn’t put yourself in opposition to the interests of your husband and child,
would you? Not you!” and throwing off other sarcastic sparks from the whirling
grindstone of his indignation, Mr. Cruncher betook himself to his boot-cleaning
and his general preparation for business. In the meantime, his son, whose head
was garnished with tenderer spikes, and whose young eyes stood close by one
another, as his father’s did, kept the required watch upon his mother. He
greatly disturbed that poor woman at intervals, by darting out of his sleeping
closet, where he made his toilet, with a suppressed cry of “You are going to
flop, mother. —Halloa, father!” and, after raising this fictitious alarm,
darting in again with an undutiful grin.
Muttering other phrases like “Oh, yes! You’re a religious woman, aren’t you?
You would never go against the best interests of your husband and child, would
you? Not you!” and making other such sarcastic comments, Mr. Cruncher went about
cleaning his boots and getting ready for work. Meanwhile, his son, whose hair
was slightly less spiked than his father’s and whose eyes were close together
like his father’s, watched his mother as he had been told. He kept surprising
her by jumping out of his little bedroom where he was washing up and yelling,
“You were about to kneel down and pray, Mother. Hey! Father!” and then, after
yelling out this false warning, jumping back into the other room again with a
Mr. Cruncher’s temper was not at all improved when he came to his breakfast.
He resented Mrs. Cruncher’s saying grace with particular animosity.
Mr. Cruncher was still in a bad mood when he came to eat breakfast. He was
particularly angry when Mrs. Cruncher said grace.
“Now, Aggerawayter! What are you up to? At it again?”
“What are you up to now, aggravator! Are you at it again?”
His wife explained that she had merely “asked a blessing.”
His wife explained to him that she was only asking for a blessing.
“Don’t do it!” said Mr. Cruncher looking about, as if he rather expected to
see the loaf disappear under the efficacy of his wife’s petitions. “I ain’t a
going to be blest out of house and home. I won’t have my wittles blest off my
table. Keep still!”
“Don’t do it!” said Mr. Cruncher while he looked around, as if he expected his
wife’s prayers to make the loaf of bread on the table disappear. “I’m not going
to let myself be blessed out of house and home. I won’t let you bless my food
right off of my table. Keep quiet!”
Exceedingly red-eyed and grim, as if he had been up all night at a party which
had taken anything but a convivial turn, Jerry Cruncher worried his breakfast
rather than ate it, growling over it like any four-footed inmate of a menagerie.
Towards nine o’clock he smoothed his ruffled aspect, and, presenting as
respectable and business-like an exterior as he could overlay his natural self
with, issued forth to the occupation of the day.
Blurry-eyed and sullen, as if he had been up all night at a party that had
ended badly, Jerry Cruncher ate his breakfast anxiously, growling over it like
an animal. Around nine o’clock he calmed himself down and, making himself as
respectable and professional looking as he could, went out to start his day.
It could scarcely be called a trade, in spite of his favourite description of
himself as “a honest tradesman.” His stock consisted of a wooden stool, made out
of a broken-backed chair cut down, which stool, young Jerry, walking at his
father’s side, carried every morning to beneath the banking-house window that
was nearest Temple Bar: where, with the addition of the first handful of straw
that could be gleaned from any passing vehicle to keep the cold and wet from the
odd-job-man’s feet, it formed the encampment for the day. On this post of his,
Mr. Cruncher was as well known to Fleet-street and the Temple, as the Bar
itself,—and was almost as in-looking.
You could barely call his work skilled labor, even though he liked to describe
himself as an “honest businessman.” His only equipment was a wooden stool made
from a broken chair. His son, young Jerry, carried the stool every morning as he
walked at his father’s side and placed it under the bank window closest to
Temple Bar. He would take a handful of straw from the first vehicle that passed
and use it to keep his feet warm and dry, and that was where Mr. Cruncher
worked. Here at his position, Mr. Cruncher was as familiar to the people in
Fleet Street and the Temple Bar area as Temple Bar itself.
Encamped at a quarter before nine, in good time to touch his three- cornered
hat to the oldest of men as they passed in to Tellson’s, Jerry took up his
station on this windy March morning, with young Jerry standing by him, when not
engaged in making forays through the Bar, to inflict bodily and mental injuries
of an acute description on passing boys who were small enough for his amiable
purpose. Father and son, extremely like each other, looking silently on at the
morning traffic in Fleet-street, with their two heads as near to one another as
the two eyes of each were, bore a considerable resemblance to a pair of monkeys.
The resemblance was not lessened by the accidental circumstance, that the mature
Jerry bit and spat out straw, while the twinkling eyes of the youthful Jerry
were as restlessly watchful of him as of everything else in Fleet-street.
Jerry took up his position there at 8:45 this windy March morning, just in
time to tip his three-cornered hat to the oldest clerks of Tellson’s Bank as
they came into work. His son stood next to him when he wasn’t wandering through
Temple Bar looking for boys who were smaller than himself to pick on. Jerry and
young Jerry, looking very much like each other, silently watched the morning
traffic on Fleet Street. Their heads were as close together as each one’s eyes
were, making them look like a pair of monkeys. Increasing their resemblance to
monkeys was the fact that Jerry chewed on and spat out pieces of straw. His son
watched him, and everything else on Fleet Street, carefully.