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In Three Books.



To the eyes of Mr. Jeremiah Cruncher, sitting
on his stool in Fleet-street with his grisly urchin
beside him, a vast number and variety of
objects in movement were every day
presented. Who could sit upon anything in
Fleet-street during the busy hours of the day,
and not be dazed and deafened by two immense
processions, one ever tending westward with the
sun, the other ever tending eastward from the
sun, both ever tending to the plains beyond the
range of red and purple where the sun goes

With his straw in his mouth, Mr. Cruncher
sat watching the two streams, like the heathen
rustic who has for several centuries been on duty
watching one streamsaving that Jerry had no
expectation of their ever running dry. Nor
would it have been an expectation of a hopeful
kind, since a small part of his income was
derived from the pilotage of timid women
(mostly of a full habit and past the middle term
of life) from Tellson's side of the tides to the
opposite shore. Brief as such companionship
was in every separate instance, Mr. Cruncher
never failed to become so interested in the lady
as to express a strong desire to have the honour
of drinking her very good health. And it was
from the gifts bestowed upon him towards the
execution of this benevolent purpose, that he
recruited his finances, as just now observed.

Time was, when a poet sat upon a stool in
a public place, and mused in the sight of men.
Mr. Cruncher, sitting on a stool in a public
place but not being a poet, mused as little as
possible, and looked about him.

It fell out that he was thus engaged in a season
when crowds were few, and belated women
few, and when his affairs in general were so
unprosperous as to awaken a strong suspicion in
his breast that Mrs. Cruncher must have been
"flopping" in some pointed manner, when an
unusual concourse pouring down Fleet-street
westward, attracted his attention. Looking that
way, Mr. Cruncher made out that some kind of
funeral was coming along, and that there was
popular objection to this funeral, which
engendered uproar.

"Young Jerry," said Mr. Cruncher, turning
to his offspring, "it's a buryin'."

"Hooroar, father!" cried Young Jerry.

The young gentleman uttered this exultant
sound with mysterious significance. The elder
gentleman took the cry so ill, that he watched
his opportunity, and smote the young gentleman
on the ear.

"What dy'e mean? What are you hooroaring
at? What do you want to conwey to your
own father, you young Rip? This boy
is a getting too many for me!" said Mr.
Cruncher, surveying him. "Him and his
hooroars! Don't let me hear no more of you,
or you shall feel some more of me. Dy'e hear?"

"I warn't doing no harm," Young Jerry
protested, rubbing his cheek.

"Drop it then," said Mr. Cruncher; "I won't
have none of your no harms. Get a top of that
there seat, and look at the crowd."

His son obeyed, and the crowd approached;
they were bawling and hissing round a dingy
hearse and dingy mourning coach, in which
mourning coach there was only one mourner,
dressed in the dingy trappings that were
considered essential to the dignity of the position.
The position appeared by no means to please
him, however, with an increasing rabble
surrounding the coach, deriding him, making
grimaces at him, and incessantly groaning
and calling out: "Yah! Spies! Tst! Yaha!
Spies!" with many compliments too numerous
and forcible to repeat.

Funerals had at all times a remarkable
attraction for Mr. Cruncher; he always pricked
up his senses, and became excited, when a
funeral passed Tellson's. Naturally, therefore,
a funeral with this uncommon attendance excited
him greatly, and he asked of the first man who
ran against him:

"What is it, brother? What's it about?"

"I don't know," said the man. "Spies!
Yaha! Tst! Spies!"

He asked another man. "Who is it?"

"I don't know," returned the man: clapping
his hands to his mouth nevertheless, and vociferating
in a surprising heat and with the greatest
ardour, "Spies! Yaha! Tst, tst! Spi-ies!"

At length, a person better informed on the
merits of the case, tumbled against him, and