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9 CHAPTER II. The worthy milkman, and how he trusted people; and the wonderful luck he had one morning in finding a precious treasure. this chapter is necessarily retrospective of the preceding one. Among the earliest customers of Ephraim Foster, there came one morning a little white-headed boy, neither handsome nor ugly. Ephraim kept a shop in one of the thoroughfares that cross Grand street, east of the Bowery; he sold milk, eggs, and sundry etceteras—in winter adding to his vocations, those of a purveyor of pork and sausage meat, which is a driving and a thriving trade, hereabout, in cold weather. Fair America rivals ancient Greece in its love of pork. At the proper season, you may see, thickly set through the streets, the places for furnishing this favorite winter eating; beautiful red and white slices, mighty hams, either fresh or smoked, sides and fore-quarters—and, at intervals, a grinning head with fat cheeks and ears erect.—Still more 10 preferable to some, is the powerfully spiced sausage meat, or the jelly-like head-cheese. In the preparation of the latter articles, the worthy Ephraim always did wonders; for folks had confidence in him—which is a great deal to bestow on a sausage vendor .—However, he deserved it all. He deserved more. He was one of the best fellows that ever lived. People said now and then that he would never set the North River a-fire; and yet Foster jogged along, even in his pecuniary affairs, faster and steadier than some who had the reputation of much superior cunning. He was, without thinking of it at all, constitutionally kind, liberal, and unselfish. It was in an humble way, to be sure; but none the less credit for that.—He had a knack of making mistakes against his own interest—giving the customer the odd pennies, and never gouging in weight or measure. Then although the usual sign of “No Trust” hung up over the counter, Ephraim did trust very much—particularly if the family asking indulgence were poor, or the father or mother was sick. Although this resulted several times in bad debts that were no trifle to a man in his sort of business, it was marvellous how in the long run he didn’t really lose. One time, a year after a certain thumping bill had been utterly despaired of, and the poor journeyman cabinet maker owing it had moved to another part of the city, things grew brighter with him, and he came round one cool evening to pay up like a man and make Ephraim’s wife a pretty present of a work-box. Another time when the long, 11 long score of a poor woman, with little children, had been allowed to accumulate nearly all winter—for otherwise, they would have starved—the husband, an intemperate, shiftless character, died, and the woman was taken away by her friends. But strange to tell, who should be engaged, by and by, as cook in the house of a wealthy family three blocks off, but this very same woman—who grew fat and rosy in a good place, and not only paid the old score, long as it was,—(although Ephraim himself told her it was no matter , and might as well go, now; but the worthy cook began to grow angry then)—not only did she settle the bill, but sent her old friend a deal of profitable custom. The story of his good deeds went to the ears of the mistress, and thence into other people’s; and you may depend Ephraim didn’t lose anything by that. So with all his soft-heartedness the man might be said to gain nearly enough to balance the really bad accounts; for they were not always coming back, after he gave them up—those unfortunate bills. This was the sort of personage that the little flax-headed boy was lucky enough to come to. He didn’t seem to have performed any morning toilet; he was bare-headed and bare-footed; finally he was about ten years old. “And who are you, my man?” said Ephraim, for he had never seen the youngster before, although he knew, or thought so, every mother’s child for a dozen blocks around. The tow head looked up in the shopkeeper’s face and answered that his usual appellation was Jack. “And where do you come from?” continued Ephraim. 12 Master Jack looked up again, but...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781609385118
Related ISBN
9781609385125
MARC Record
OCLC
970693688
Pages
180
Launched on MUSE
2017-03-14
Language
English
Open Access
No
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