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Lavengro by George Henry Borrow

' The bookseller looked blank


At

the appointed hour I repaired to the house of the bookseller; the bookseller was in his shop. 'Ah,' said he, as soon as I entered, 'I am glad to see you.' There was an unwonted heartiness in the bookseller's tones, an unwonted benignity in his face. 'So,' said he, after a pause, 'you have taken my advice, written a book of adventure; nothing like taking the advice, young man, of your superiors in age. Well, I think your book will do, and so does my wife, for whose judgment I have a great regard; as well I may, as she is the daughter of a first-rate novelist, deceased. I think I shall venture on sending your book to the press.' 'But,' said I, 'we have not yet agreed upon terms.' 'Terms, terms,' said the bookseller; 'ahem! well, there is nothing like coming to terms at once. I will print the book, and give you half the profit when the edition is sold.' 'That will not do,' said I; 'I intend shortly to leave London: I must have something at once.' 'Ah, I see,' said the bookseller, 'in distress; frequently the case with authors, especially young ones. Well, I don't care if I purchase it of you, but you must be moderate; the public are very fastidious, and the speculation may prove a losing one after all. Let me see, will five-hem--' he stopped. I looked the bookseller in the face; there was something peculiar in it. Suddenly it appeared to me as if the voice of him of the thimble sounded in my ear, 'Now is your time, ask enough, never such another chance of establishing
yourself; respectable trade, pea and thimble.' 'Well,' said I at last, 'I have no objection to take the offer which you were about to make, though I really think five-and-twenty guineas to be scarcely enough, everything considered.' 'Five-and-twenty guineas!' said the bookseller; 'are you--what was I going to say--I never meant to offer half as much--I mean a quarter; I was going to say five guineas--I mean pounds; I will, however, make it up guineas.' 'That will not do,' said I; 'but, as I find we shall not deal, return me my manuscript, that I may carry it to some one else.' The bookseller looked blank. 'Dear me,' said he, 'I should never have supposed that you would have made any objection to such an offer; I am quite sure that you would have been glad to take five pounds for either of the two huge manuscripts of songs and ballads that you brought me on a former occasion.' 'Well,' said I, 'if you will engage to publish either of those two manuscripts, you shall have the present one for five pounds.' 'God forbid that I should make any such bargain!' said the bookseller; 'I would publish neither on any account; but, with respect to this last book, I have really an inclination to print it, both for your sake and mine; suppose we say ten pounds.' 'No,' said I, 'ten pounds will not do; pray restore me my manuscript.' 'Stay,' said the bookseller, 'my wife is in the next room, I will go and consult her.' Thereupon he went into his back room, where I heard him conversing with his wife in a low tone; in about ten minutes he returned. 'Young gentleman,' said he, 'perhaps you will take tea with us this evening, when we will talk further over the matter.'


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