Book the Second - the Golden Thread
1. I. Five Years Later
The scene was Mr. Cruncher's private lodging in Hanging-sword-alley,
Whitefriars: the time, half-past seven of the clock on a windy March
morning, Anno Domini seventeen hundred and eighty. (Mr. Cruncher
himself always spoke of the year of our Lord as Anna Dominoes:
apparently under the impression that the Christian era dated from the
invention of a popular game, by a lady who had bestowed her name upon it.)
Mr. Cruncher's apartments were not in a savoury neighbourhood, and
were but two in number, even if a closet with a single pane of glass
in it might be counted as one. But they were very decently kept.
Early as it was, on the windy March morning, the room in which he lay
abed was already scrubbed throughout; and between the cups and
saucers arranged for breakfast, and the lumbering deal table, a very
clean white cloth was spread.
Mr. Cruncher reposed under a patchwork counterpane, like a Harlequin
at home. At fast, he slept heavily, but, by degrees, began to roll
and surge in bed, until he rose above the surface, with his spiky
hair looking as if it must tear the sheets to ribbons. At which
juncture, he exclaimed, in a voice of dire exasperation:
"Bust me, if she ain't at it agin!"
A woman of orderly and industrious appearance rose from her knees in
a corner, with sufficient haste and trepidation to show that she was
the person referred to.
"What!" said Mr. Cruncher, looking out of bed for a boot. "You're at
it agin, are you?"
After hailing the mom with this second salutation, he threw a boot at
the woman as a third. It was a very muddy boot, and may introduce
the odd circumstance connected with Mr. Cruncher's domestic economy,
that, whereas he often came home after banking hours with clean
boots, he often got up next morning to find the same boots
covered with clay.
"What," said Mr. Cruncher, varying his apostrophe after missing
his mark--"what are you up to, Aggerawayter?"
"I was only saying my prayers."