Of these men one was dressed in brown, and the other was dressed in black; both were tall men - he who was dressed in brown was thin, and had a particularly ill-natured countenance; the man dressed in black was bulky, his features were noble, but they were those of a lion.

‘What is your business, young man?’ said the precise personage, as I stood staring at him and his companion.

‘I want a Bible,’ said I.

‘What price, what size?’ said the precise-looking man.

‘As to size,’ said I, ‘I should like to have a large one - that is, if you can afford me one - I do not come to buy.’

‘Oh, friend,’ said the precise-looking man, ‘if you come here expecting to have a Bible for nothing, you are mistaken - we - ‘

‘I would scorn to have a Bible for nothing,’ said I, ‘or anything else; I came not to beg, but to barter; there is no shame in that, especially in a country like this, where all folks barter.’

‘Oh, we don’t barter,’ said the precise man, ‘at least Bibles; you had better depart.’

‘Stay, brother,’ said the man with the countenance of a lion, ‘let us ask a few questions; this may be a very important case; perhaps the young man has had convictions.’

‘Not I,’ I exclaimed, ‘I am convinced of nothing, and with regard to the Bible - I don’t believe - ‘

‘Hey!’ said the man with the lion countenance, and there he stopped. But with that ‘Hey’ the walls of the house seemed to shake, the windows rattled, and the porter whom I had seen in front of the house came running up the steps, and looked into the apartment through the glass of the door.

There was silence for about a minute - the same kind of silence which succeeds a clap of thunder.

At last the man with the lion countenance, who had kept his eyes fixed upon me, said calmly, ‘Were you about to say that you don’t believe in the Bible, young man?’

‘No more than in anything else,’ said I; ‘you were talking of convictions - I have no convictions. It is not easy to believe in the Bible till one is convinced that there is a Bible.’

‘He seems to be insane,’ said the prim-looking man; ‘we had better order the porter to turn him out.’

‘I am by no means certain,’ said I, ‘that the porter could turn me out; always provided there is a porter, and this system of ours be not a lie, and a dream.’

‘Come,’ said the lion-looking man, impatiently, ‘a truce with this nonsense. If the porter cannot turn you out, perhaps some other person can; but to the point - you want a Bible?’

‘I do,’ said I, ‘but not for myself; I was sent by another person to offer something in exchange for one.’

‘And who is that person?’

‘A poor old woman, who has had what you call convictions, - heard voices, or thought she heard them - I forgot to ask her whether they were loud ones.’

‘What has she sent to offer in exchange?’ said the man, without taking any notice of the concluding part of my speech.

‘A book,’ said I.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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