and I (for he brought me round to his opinion) agreed it would be better to decline. This was all he knew of as belonging to him.

He said he proposed at once taking an unfurnished top back attic in as quiet a house as he could find, say at three or four shillings a week, and looking out for work as a tailor. I did not think it much mattered what he began with, for I felt pretty sure he would ere long find his way to something that suited him, if he could get a start with anything at all. The difficulty was how to get him started. It was not enough that he should be able to cut out and make clothes - that he should have the organs, so to speak, of a tailor; he must be put into a tailor's shop and guided for a little while by some one who knew how and where to help him.

The rest of the day he spent in looking for a room, which he soon found, and in familiarizing himself with liberty. In the evening I took him to the Olympic, where Robson was then acting in a burlesque on Macbeth, Mrs Keeley, if I remember rightly, taking the part of Lady Macbeth. In the scene before the murder, Macbeth had said he could not kill Duncan when he saw his boots upon the landing. Lady Macbeth put a stop to her husband's hesitation by whipping him up under her arm, and carrying him off the stage, kicking and screaming. Ernest laughed till he cried. `What rot Shakespeare is after this,' he exclaimed involuntarily. I remembered his essay on the Greek tragedians, and was more épris with him than ever.

Next day he set about looking for employment, and I did not see him till about five o'clock, when he came and said that he had had no success. The same thing happened the next day and the day after that. Wherever he went he was invariably refused and often ordered point-blank out of the shop; I could see by the expression of his face, though he said nothing, that he was getting frightened, and began to think I should have to come to the rescue. He said he had made a great many inquiries and had always been told the same story. He found that it was easy to keep on in an old line, but very hard to strike out into a new one.

He talked to the fishmonger in Leather Lane, where he went to buy a bloater for his tea, casually as though from curiosity and without any interested motive. `Sell,' said the master of the shop, `Why nobody wouldn't believe what can be sold by penn'orths and twopenn'orths if you go the right way to work. Look at whelks, for instance. Last Saturday night me and my little Emma here, we sold £7 worth of whelks between eight and half-past eleven o'clock - and almost all in penn'orths and twopenn'orths - a few hap'orths, but not many. It was the steam that did it. We kept a-boiling of'em hot and hot, and whenever the steam came strong up from the cellar on to the pavement, the people bought, but whenever the steam went down they left off buying; so we boiled them over and over again till they was all sold. That's just where it is. if you know your business you can sell, if you don't you'll soon make a mess of it. Why, but for the steam, I should not have sold 10s. worth of whelks all the night through.'

This, and many another yarn of kindred substance which he heard from other people determined Ernest more than ever to stake on tailoring as the one trade about which he knew anything at all; nevertheless, here were three or four days gone by and employment seemed as far off as ever.

I now did what I ought to have done before, that is to say, I called on my own tailor whom I had dealt with for over a quarter of a century and asked his advice. He declared Ernest's plan to be hopeless. `If,' said Mr Larkins, for this was my tailor's name, `he had begun at fourteen, it might have done, but no man of twenty-four could stand being turned to work into a workshop full of tailors; he would not get on with the men, nor the men with him; you could not expect him to be "hail fellow, well met" with them, and you could not expect his fellow-workmen to like him if he was not. A man must have sunk low through drink or natural taste for low company, before he could get on with those who have had such a different training from his own.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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