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Profit And Glory
by [?]

By serving in shops, by drinking himself drunk, and by shamming good fortune, Jacob Griffiths gave testimony to the miseries and joys of life, and at the age of fifty-six he fell back in his bed at his lodging-house in Clapham, suffered, drew up his crippled knees and died. On the morrow his brother Simon hastened to the house; and as he neared the place he looked up and beheld his sisters Annie and Jane fach also hurrying thither. Presently they three saw one another as with a single eye, wherefore they slackened their pace and walked with seemliness to the door. Jacob’s body was on a narrow, disordered bed, and in the state of its deliverance: its eyes were aghast and its hands were clenched in deathful pangs.

Then Simon bowed his trunk and lifted his silk hat and his umbrella in the manner of a preacher giving a blessing.

“Of us family it can be claimed,” he pronounced, “that even the Angel do not break us. We must all cross Jordan. Some go with boats and bridges. Some swim. Some bridges charge a toll–one penny and two pennies. A toll there is to cross Jordan.”

“He’ll be better when he’s washed and laid out proper,” remarked the woman of the lodging-house.

“Let down your apron from your head,” Simon said to her. “We are mourning for our brother, the son of the similar father and mother. You don’t think me insulting if I was alone with the corpse. I shan’t be long at my religious performance. I am a busy man like you.”

The woman having gone, he spoke at Jacob: “Perished you are now, Shacob. You have unraveled the tangled skein of eternal life. Pray I do you will find rest with the restless of big London. Annie and Jane fach, sorrowful you are; wet are your tears. Go you and drink a nice cup of tea in the cafe. Most eloquent I shall be in a minute and there’s hysterics you’ll get. Arrive will I after you. Don’t pay for tea; that will I do.”

“Iss, indeed,” said Annie. “Off you, Jane fach. You, Simon, with her, for fear she is slayed in the street. Sit here will I and speak to the spirit of Shacob.”

“The pant of my breath is not back”–Jane fach’s voice was shrill. “Did I not muster on reading the death letter? Witness the mud sprinkled on my gown.”

“Why should you muster, little sister?” inquired Simon.

“Right that I reach him in respectable time, was the think inside me,” Jane fach answered. “What other design have I? Stay here I will. A boy, dear me, for a joke was Shacob with me. Heaps of gifts he made me; enough to fill a yellow tin box.”

“Generous he was,” Simon said. “Hap he parted with all. Full of feeling you are. But useless that we loll here. No odds for me; this is my day in the City. How will your boss treat you, Annie, for being away without a pass? Angry will your buyer be, I would be in a temper with my young ladies. Hie to the office, Jane. Don’t you borrow borrowings from me if you are sacked.”

“You are as sly as the cow that steals into clover,” Annie cried out. She removed her large hat and set upright the osprey feathers thereon, puffed out her hair which was fashioned in a high pile, and whitened with powder the birth-stain on her cheek. “They daren’t discharge me. I’d carry the costume trade with me. Each second you hear, ‘Miss Witton-Griffiths, forward,’ and ‘Miss Witton-Griffiths, her heinness is waiting for you.’ In favor am I with the buyer.”

“Whisper to me your average takings per week,” Simon craved. “Not repeat will I.”

After exaggerating her report, Annie said: “You are going now, then.”

Jane fach took from a chair a cup that had tea in it, a candlestick–the candle in which died before Jacob–and a teapot, and she sat in the chair. “Oo-oo,” she squeaked. “Sorry am I you are flown.”