Tom Tiddler’s Ground - 16
Tom Tiddler’s Ground - 163 mins 1.9K 3 mins 1.9K
"You told me you were not particular as to weather, and I thought--"
"Ha, ha! How should such as me get on, if we _was_ particular as to weather? We must take it as it comes, and make the best of it. There's something good in all weathers. If it don't happen to be good for my work to-day, it's good for some other man's to-day, and will come round to me to-morrow. We must all live."
"Pray shake hands," said Mr. Traveller.
"Take care, sir," was the Tinker's caution, as he reached up his hand in surprise; "the black comes off."
"I am glad of it," said Mr. Traveller. "I have been for several hours among other black that does not come off."
"You are speaking of Tom in there?"
"Well now," said the Tinker, blowing the dust off his job: which was finished. "Ain't it enough to disgust a pig, if he could give his mind to it?"
"If he could give his mind to it," returned the other, smiling, "the probability is that he wouldn't be a pig."
"There you clench the nail," returned the Tinker. "Then what's to be said for Tom?"
"Truly, very little."
"Truly nothing you mean, sir," said the Tinker, as he put away his tools.
"A better answer, and (I freely acknowledge) my meaning. I infer that he was the cause of your disgust?"
"Why, look'ee here, sir," said the Tinker, rising to his feet, and wiping his face on the corner of his black apron energetically; "I leave you to judge!--I ask you!--Last night I has a job that needs to be done in the night, and I works all night. Well, there's nothing in that. But this morning I comes along this road here, looking for a sunny and soft spot to sleep in, and I sees this desolation and ruination. I've lived myself in desolation and ruination; I knows many a fellow-creetur that's forced to live life long in desolation and ruination; and I sits me down and takes pity on it, as I casts my eyes about. Then comes up the long-winded one as I told you of, from that gate, and spins himself out like a silkworm concerning the Donkey (if my Donkey at home will excuse me) as has made it all--made it of his own choice! And tells me, if you please, of his likewise choosing to go ragged and naked, and grimy--maskerading, mountebanking, in what is the real hard lot of thousands and thousands! Why, then I say it's a unbearable and nonsensical piece of inconsistency, and I'm disgusted. I'm ashamed and disgusted!"
"I wish you would come and look at him," said Mr. Traveller, clapping the Tinker on the shoulder.
"Not I, sir," he rejoined. "I ain't a going to flatter him up by looking at him!"
"But he is asleep."
"Are you sure he is asleep?" asked the Tinker, with an unwilling air, as he shouldered his wallet.
"Then I'll look at him for a quarter of a minute," said the Tinker, "since you so much wish it; but not a moment longer."
They all three went back across the road; and, through the barred window, by the dying glow of the sunset coming in at the gate--which the child held open for its admission--he could be pretty clearly discerned lying on his bed.
"You see him?" asked Mr. Traveller.
"Yes," returned the Tinker, "and he's worse than I thought him."