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or you may not be aware (for perhaps you have not been much in the
audience), that Jupe has missed his tip very often, lately.'
'Has - what has he missed?' asked Mr. Gradgrind, glancing at the
potent Bounderby for assistance.
'Missed his tip.'
'Offered at the Garters four times last night, and never done 'em
once,' said Master Kidderminster. 'Missed his tip at the banners,
too, and was loose in his ponging.'
'Didn't do what he ought to do. Was short in his leaps and bad in
his tumbling,' Mr. Childers interpreted.
'Oh!' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'that is tip, is it?'
'In a general way that's missing his tip,' Mr. E. W. B. Childers
'Nine oils, Merrylegs, missing tips, garters, banners, and Ponging,
eh!' ejaculated Bounderby, with his laugh of laughs. 'Queer sort
of company, too, for a man who has raised himself!'
'Lower yourself, then,' retorted Cupid. 'Oh Lord! if you've raised
yourself so high as all that comes to, let yourself down a bit.'
'This is a very obtrusive lad!' said Mr. Gradgrind, turning, and
knitting his brows on him.
'We'd have had a young gentleman to meet you, if we had known you
were coming,' retorted Master Kidderminster, nothing abashed.
'It's a pity you don't have a bespeak, being so particular. You're
on the Tight-Jeff, ain't you?'
'What does this unmannerly boy mean,' asked Mr. Gradgrind, eyeing
him in a sort of desperation, 'by Tight-Jeff?'
'There! Get out, get out!' said Mr. Childers, thrusting his young
friend from the room, rather in the prairie manner. 'Tight-Jeff or
Slack-Jeff, it don't much signify: it's only tight-rope and slack-
rope. You were going to give me a message for Jupe?'
'Yes, I was.'
'Then,' continued Mr. Childers, quickly, 'my opinion is, he will
never receive it. Do you know much of him?'
'I never saw the man in my life.'
'I doubt if you ever will see him now. It's pretty plain to me,
'Do you mean that he has deserted his daughter?'
'Ay! I mean,' said Mr. Childers, with a nod, 'that he has cut. He
was goosed last night, he was goosed the night before last, he was
goosed to-day. He has lately got in the way of being always
goosed, and he can't stand it.'
'Why has he been - so very much - Goosed?' asked Mr. Gradgrind,
forcing the word out of himself, with great solemnity and
'His joints are turning stiff, and he is getting used up,' said
Childers. 'He has his points as a Cackler still, but he can't get
a living out of them.'
'A Cackler!' Bounderby repeated. 'Here we go again!'
'A speaker, if the gentleman likes it better,' said Mr. E. W. B.
Childers, superciliously throwing the interpretation over his
shoulder, and accompanying it with a shake of his long hair - which
all shook at once. 'Now, it's a remarkable fact, sir, that it cut
that man deeper, to know that his daughter knew of his being
goosed, than to go through with it.'
'Good!' interrupted Mr. Bounderby. 'This is good, Gradgrind! A
man so fond of his daughter, that he runs away from her! This is
devilish good! Ha! ha! Now, I'll tell you what, young man. I
haven't always occupied my present station of life. I know what
these things are. You may be astonished to hear it, but my mother
- ran away from me.'
E. W. B. Childers replied pointedly, that he was not at all
astonished to hear it.
'Very well,' said Bounderby. 'I was born in a ditch, and my mother
ran away from me. Do I excuse her for it? No. Have I ever
excused her for it? Not I. What do I call her for it? I call her
probably the very worst woman that ever lived in the world, except
my drunken grandmother. There's no family pride about me, there's
no imaginative sentimental humbug about me. I call a spade a
spade; and I call the mother of Josiah Bounderby of Coketown,
without any fear or any favour, what I should call her if she had
been the mother of Dick Jones of Wapping. So, with this man. He
is a runaway rogue and a vagabond, that's what he is, in English.'
'It's all the same to me what he is or what he is not, whether in
English or whether in French,' retorted Mr. E. W. B. Childers,
facing about. 'I am telling your friend what's the fact; if you
don't like to hear it, you can avail yourself of the open air. You
give it mouth enough, you do; but give it mouth in your own
building at least,' remonstrated E. W. B. with stern irony. 'Don't
give it mouth in this building, till you're called upon. You have
got some building of your own I dare say, now?'
'Perhaps so,' replied Mr. Bounderby, rattling his money and
'Then give it mouth in your own building, will you, if you please?'
said Childers. 'Because this isn't a strong building, and too much
of you might bring it down!'
Eyeing Mr. Bounderby from head to foot again, he turned from him,
as from a man finally disposed of, to Mr. Gradgrind.
'Jupe sent his daughter out on an errand not an hour ago, and then
was seen to slip out himself, with his hat over his eyes, and a
bundle tied up in a handkerchief under his arm. She will never
believe it of him, but he has cut away and left her.'
'Pray,' said Mr. Gradgrind, 'why will she never believe it of him?'
'Because those two were one. Because they were never asunder.
Because, up to this time, he seemed to dote upon her,' said
Childers, taking a step or two to look into the empty trunk. Both
Mr. Childers and Master Kidderminster walked in a curious manner;
with their legs wider apart than the general run of men, and with a
very knowing assumption of being stiff in the knees. This walk was
common to all the male members of Sleary's company, and was
understood to express, that they were always on horseback.
'Poor Sissy! He had better have apprenticed her,' said Childers,
giving his hair another shake, as he looked up from the empty box.
'Now, he leaves her without anything to take to.'
'It is creditable to you, who have never been apprenticed, to
express that opinion,' returned Mr. Gradgrind, approvingly.
'I never apprenticed? I was apprenticed when I was seven year
'Oh! Indeed?' said Mr. Gradgrind, rather resentfully, as having
been defrauded of his good opinion. 'I was not aware of its being
the custom to apprentice young persons to - '
'Idleness,' Mr. Bounderby put in with a loud laugh. 'No, by the
Lord Harry! Nor I!'
'Her father always had it in his head,' resumed Childers, feigning
unconsciousness of Mr. Bounderby's existence, 'that she was to be
taught the deuce-and-all of education. How it got into his head, I
can't say; I can only say that it never got out. He has been
picking up a bit of reading for her, here - and a bit of writing
for her, there - and a bit of ciphering for her, somewhere else -
these seven years.'
Mr. E. W. B. Childers took one of his hands out of his pockets,
stroked his face and chin, and looked, with a good deal of doubt
and a little hope, at Mr. Gradgrind. From the first he had sought
to conciliate that gentleman, for the sake of the deserted girl.
'When Sissy got into the school here,' he pursued, 'her father was
as pleased as Punch. I couldn't altogether make out why, myself,
as we were not stationary here, being but comers and goers
anywhere. I suppose, however, he had this move in his mind - he
was always half-cracked - and then considered her provided for. If
you should happen to have looked in to-night, for the purpose of
telling him that you were going to do her any little service,' said
Mr. Childers, stroking his face again, and repeating his look, 'it
would be very fortunate and well-timed; very fortunate and well-
'On the contrary,' returned Mr. Gradgrind. 'I came to tell him
that her connections made her not an object for the school, and
that she must not attend any more. Still, if her father really has
left her, without any connivance on her part - Bounderby, let me
have a word with you.'
Upon this, Mr. Childers politely betook himself, with his
equestrian walk, to the landing outside the door, and there stood
stroking his face, and softly whistling. While thus engaged, he
overheard such phrases in Mr. Bounderby's voice as 'No. I say no.
I advise you not. I say by no means.' While, from Mr. Gradgrind,
he heard in his much lower tone the words, 'But even as an example
to Louisa, of what this pursuit which has been the subject of a
vulgar curiosity, leads to and ends in. Think of it, Bounderby, in
that point of view.'
Meanwhile, the various members of Sleary's company gradually
gathered together from the upper regions, where they were
quartered, and, from standing about, talking in low voices to one
another and to Mr. Childers, gradually insinuated themselves and
him into the room. There were two or three handsome young women
among them, with their two or three husbands, and their two or
three mothers, and their eight or nine little children, who did the
fairy business when required. The father of one of the families
was in the habit of balancing the father of another of the families
on the top of a great pole; the father of a third family often made