whittling. Not out of ornament, I tell you, but for use. Now rack your brains for a reason.’
‘To lick me with,’ said the girl.
‘Hit it, Six hundred and seventeen. If you tear, break, or waste anything, this stick will be a paintbrush to your back, making you like an ancient Briton, blue and yellow. Now look at this stick. You don’t suppose I whittle and shape it for such as you; you ain’t worth the exertion.’
‘You thought me worth ten bob, or you wouldn’t have given it,’ said the child.
‘You worth ten shillings!’ sneered the Jew; ‘not a bit. Your mother gave her gold ring as well; that was worth six.’
‘Well, then, I’m valued at four.’
‘Four! You’re worth nothing. I reckoned on your clothes and boots.’
‘My boots are scat at the sides, and wore out at the soles. They are fit for nothing but making soup. My clothes are that dirty with mud and coals that they’ll never wash clean again.’
‘What! given to argufying, are you?’ exclaimed the pawnbroker. ‘No more of that with me. Hook up the steps if you please, you blackbeetle. I must find you a change somehow.’
He made her ascend a set of dark steps into an upper story. There they went through three rooms, full as they could hold of various goods, old furniture, clocks, china, mattresses, looking-glasses, military accoutrements, uniforms, muffs, jackets, gowns, nautical instruments, books, tools.
‘There,’ said he, pointing about him with his stick, ‘you see all these garments. This is the uniform of a general, that of an admiral. Here are sable and sealskin jackets, rabbitskin ermine opera cloaks, silk dresses for servant-maids, and cotton prints for ladies, linen jackets of dockmen, worsted jerseys of sailors. These must all be hung on yokes. They accumulate. Unless exposed they don’t attract attention. I fashion the yokes and pegs on which they hang. That is what I was whittling at. I always have one in hand. I have one great enemy with which to battle. These clothes don’t eat, but they get eaten. The moth is my enemy. I said he was a great one, but really he’s a very little one. Bless me! what valuable time is wasted at whack, whack, whack! with a bamboo to drive the moth out of the cloth and fur. I’ve tried camphor; I’ve tried bitter apple; I’ve tried pepper. Nothing answers