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Lavengro by George Henry Borrow

Very much resembling tea chests


I demanded with some eagerness of the young man the direction to the place where he thought it possible that I might effect the exchange--which direction the young fellow cheerfully gave me, and, as I turned away, had the civility to wish me success.

I had no difficulty in finding the house to which the young fellow directed me; it was a very large house, situated in a square; and upon the side of the house was written in large letters, 'Bibles, and other religious books.'

At the door of the house were two or three tumbrils, in the act of being loaded with chests, very much resembling tea-chests; one of the chests falling down, burst, and out flew, not tea, but various books, in a neat, small size, and in neat leather covers; Bibles, said I,--Bibles, doubtless. I was not quite right, nor quite wrong; picking up one of the books, I looked at it for a moment, and found it to be the New Testament. 'Come, young lad,' said a man who stood by, in the dress of a porter, 'put that book down, it is none of yours; if you want a book, go in and deal for one.'

Deal, thought I, deal,--the man seems to know what I am coming about,--and going in, I presently found myself in a very large room. Behind a counter two men stood with their backs to a splendid fire, warming themselves, for the weather was cold.

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--'

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