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(who was in his shirt) took this very ill, and, turning to his mother,
strongly deprecated any praying away of his personal board.
“And what do you suppose, you conceited female,” said Mr.
Cruncher, with unconscious inconsistency, “that the worth of your
prayers may be? Name the price that you put your prayers at!”
“They only come from the heart, Jerry. They are worth no more
than that.” “Worth no more than that,” repeated Mr. Cruncher.
“They ain’t worth much, then. Whether or no, I won’t be prayed
agin, I tell you. I can’t afford it. I’m not a going to be made unlucky
by your sneaking. If you must go flopping yourself down, flop in
favour of your husband and child, and not in opposition to ‘em. If I
had had any but a unnat’ral wife, and this poor boy had had any
but a unnat’ral mother, I might have made some money last week
instead of being counterprayed and countermined and religiously
circumvented into the worst of luck. Bu-u-ust me!” said Mr.
Cruncher, who all this time had been putting on his clothes, “if I
ain’t, what with piety and one blowed thing and another, been
choused this last week into as bad luck as ever a poor devil of a
honest tradesman met with! Young Jerry, dress yourself, my boy,
and while I clean my boots keep a eye upon your mother now and
then, and if you see any signs of more flopping, give me a call. For,
I tell you,” here he addressed his wife once more, “I won’t be gone
agin, in this manner. I am as rickety as a hackney-coach, I’m as
sleepy as laudanum, my lines is strained to that degree that I
shouldn’t know, if it wasn’t for the pain in ‘em, which was me and
which somebody else, yet I’m none the better for it in pocket; and
it’s my suspicion that you’ve been at it from morning to night to
prevent me from being the better for it in pocket, and I won’t put
up with it, Aggerawayter, and what do you say now!” 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.
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