Saturday, September 30, 2017

Saturday commute cxlvi: Triumph at the fair

Whatever my own conduct may have been,
Madam, is not the present question: 
though, as I have made no use of advice
myself, I should in conscience give it
to those who will.

As I was apprehensive this answer might draw on a repartee, making up by abuse what it wanted in wit, I changed the subject, by seeming to wonder what could keep our son so long at the fair, as it was now almost nightfall. "Never mind our son," cried my wife; "depend upon it he knows what he is about. I have seen him buy such bargains as would amaze one. I'll tell you a good story about that, that will make you split your sides with laughing. - But as I live, yonder comes Moses, without a horse, and the box at his back."

As she spoke, Moses came slowly on foot, and sweating under the deal box, which he had strapt round his shoulders like a pedlar. "Welcome, welcome, Moses! well, my boy, what have you brought us from the fair?" - "I have brought you myself," cried Moses, with a sly look, and resting the box on the dresser. "Ay, Moses," cried my wife, "that we know; but where is the horse?" - "I have sold him," cried Moses, "for three pounds five shillings and twopence" - "Well done, my good boy," returned she; "I knew you would touch them off. Between ourselves, three pounds five shillings and twopence is no bad day's work. Come, let us have it, then."

"I have brought back no money," cried Moses again. "I have laid it all out in a bargain, and here it is," pulling out a bundle from his breast: "here they are; a gross of green spectacles, with silver rims and shagreen cases." - "A gross of green spectacles!" repeated my wife in a faint voice. "And you have parted with the Colt, and brought us back nothing but a gross of green paltry spectacles!" - "Dear mother," cried the boy, "why won't you listen to reason? I had them a dead bargain, or I should not have bought them. The silver rims alone will sell for double the money." - "A fig for the silver rims," cried my wife in a passion: "I dare swear they won't sell for above half the money at the rate of broken silver, five shillings an ounce." - "You need be under no uneasiness," cried I, "about selling the rims, for they are not worth sixpence; for I perceive they are only copper varnished over." - "No," cried I, "no more silver than your saucepan."

               "And so," returned she, "we have parted 
               with the Colt, and have only got a gross 
               of green spectacles, with copper rims 
               and shagreen cases? A murrain take such 
               trumpery! The blockhead has been imposed 
               upon, and should have known his company 
               better." - "There, my dear, cried I, "you 
               are wrong; he should not have known them 
               at all."

Oliver Goldsmith
The Vicar of Wakefield
  A tale supposed to be
  written by himself
J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd, 1908©

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