Chapter 53

Singular table - No money - Out of employ - My bonnet - We of the thimble - Good wages - Wisely resolved - Strangest way in the world - Fat gentleman - Not such another - First edition - Not very easy - Won’t close - Avella gorgio - Alarmed look.

PRESENTLY a man emerged from the tent, bearing before him a rather singular table; it appeared to be of white deal, was exceedingly small at the top, and with very long legs. At a few yards from the entrance he paused, and looked round, as if to decide on the direction which he should take; presently, his eye glancing on me as I lay upon the ground, he started, and appeared for a moment inclined to make off as quick as possible, table and all. In a moment, however, he seemed to recover assurance, and, coming up to the place where I was, the long legs of the table projecting before him, he cried, ‘Glad to see you here, my lord.’

‘Thank you,’ said I, ‘it’s a fine day.’

‘Very fine, my lord; will your lordship play? Them that finds, wins - them that don’t finds, loses.’

‘Play at what?’ said I.

‘Only at the thimble and pea, my lord.’

‘I never heard of such a game.’

‘Didn’t you? Well, I’ll soon teach you,’ said he, placing the table down. ‘All you have to do is to put a sovereign down on my table, and to find the pea, which I put under one of my thimbles. If you find it, - and it is easy enough to find it, - I give you a sovereign besides your own: for them that finds, wins.’

‘And them that don’t finds, loses,’ said I; ‘no, I don’t wish to play.’

‘Why not, my lord?’

‘Why, in the first place, I have no money.’

‘Oh, you have no money, that of course alters the case. If you have no money, you can’t play. Well, I suppose I must be seeing after my customers,’ said he, glancing over the plain.

‘Good-day,’ said I.

‘Good-day,’ said the man slowly, but without moving, and as if in reflection. After a moment or two, looking at me inquiringly, he added, ‘Out of employ?’

‘Yes,’ said I, ‘out of employ.’

The man measured me with his eye as I lay on the ground. At length he said, ‘May I speak a word or two to you, my lord?’

‘As many as you please,’ said I.

‘Then just come a little out of hearing, a little farther on the grass, if you please, my lord.’

‘Why do you call me my lord?’ said I, as I arose and followed him.

‘We of the thimble always calls our customers lords,’ said the man; ‘but I won’t call you such a foolish name any more; come along.’

The man walked along the plain till he came to the side of a dry pit, when, looking round to see that no one was nigh, he laid his table on the grass, and, sitting down with his legs over the side of the pit, he motioned me to do the same. ‘So you are in want of employ?’ said he, after I had sat down beside him.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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