Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
household, as in very many others, the articles of daily
consumption that were wanted were purchased every evening, in
small quantities and at various small shops. To avoid attracting
notice, and to give as little occasion as possible for talk and envy,
was the general desire.
For some months past, Miss Pross and Mr. Cruncher had
discharged the office of purveyors; the former carrying the money;
the latter, the basket. Every afternoon at about the time when the
public lamps were lighted, they fared forth on this duty, and made
and brought home such purchases as were needful. Although Miss
Pross, through her long association with a French family, might
have known as much of their language as of her own, if she had
had a mind, she had no mind in that direction; consequently she
knew no more of that “nonsense” (as she was pleased to call it)
than Mr. Cruncher did. So her manner of marketing was to plump
a noun-substantive at the head of a shopkeeper without any
introduction in the nature of an article, and, if it happened not to
be the name of the thing she wanted, to look round for that thing,
lay hold of it, and hold on by it until the bargain was concluded.
She always made a bargain for it, by holding up, as a statement of
its just price, one finger less than the merchant beld up, whatever
his number might be.
“Now, Mr. Cruncher,” said Miss Pross, whose eyes were red with
felicity; “if you are ready, I am.” Jerry hoarsely professed himself
at Miss Pross’s service. He had worn all his rust off long ago, but
nothing would file his spiky head down.
“There’s all manner of things wanted,” said Miss Pross, “and we
shall have a precious time of it. We want wine, among the rest.
Nice toasts these Redheads will be drinking, wherever we buy it.”
“It will be much the same to your knowledge, miss, I should
think,” retorted Jerry, “whether they drink your health or the Old
Un’s.” “Who’s he?” said Miss Pross.
Mr. Cruncher, with some diffidence, explained himself as meaning
“Old Nick’s.” “Ha!” said Miss Pross, “it doesn’t need an interpreter
to explain the meaning of these creatures. They have but one, and
it’s Midnight Murder, and Mischief.” “Hush, dear! Pray, pray, be
cautious!” cried Lucie.
“Yes, yes, yes, I’ll be cautious,” said Miss Pross; “but I may say
among ourselves, that I do hope there will be no oniony and
tobaccoey smotherings in the form of embracings all round, going
on in the streets. Now, Ladybird, never you stir from that fire till I
come back! Take care of the dear husband you have recovered, and
don’t move your pretty head from his shoulder as you have it now,
till you see me again! May I ask a question, Doctor Manette, before