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yards from the door, and felt so frightened, that
I ran back as fast as I could. Since that I have
seldom quitted the house for an hour, and never have been out of Fulham."
"Then you have never been at school ?”
"O no-never. I often wish that I had. I used to see the little girls coming home, as they passed our door, so merrily, with their bags, from the school-house; and I'm sure, if it were only to have the pleasure of going there and back again for the sake of the run, I would have worked hard, if for nothing else."
"Would you like to learn to read and write ?"
"Will you teach me ?" replied Mary, taking me by the arm, and looking me earnestly in the face.
"Yes, I will, with pleasure," replied I, laughing. "We will pass the evening better than making love, after all, especially if you
hit so hard.
those matters ?"
How came you so knowing in
"I don't know," replied Mary, smiling; "I suppose, as father says, it's human nature, for I never learnt any thing; but you will teach me to read and write ?"
"I will teach you all I know myself, Mary, if you wish to learn. Every thing but Latinwe've had enough of that."
"Oh! I shall be so much obliged to you. I shall love you so!"
"There you are again."
"No, no, I didn't mean that," replied Mary, earnestly. "I meant that-after all, I don't know what else to say. I mean that I shall love you for your kindness, without your loving me again, that's it.”
"I understand you; but now, Mary, as we are to be such good friends, it is necessary that your father and I should be good friends; so I
you what sort of a person he is, for I know little of him, and of course wish to oblige
Well, then, to prove to you that I am sincere, I will tell you something. My father, in the first place, is a very good-tempered sort of man. He works pretty well, but might gain more, but he likes to smoke at the public-house. All he requires of me is his dinner ready, his linen clean, and the house tidy. He never drinks too much, and is always civil spoken; but he leaves me too much alone, and talks too much about human nature, that's all."
"But he's so deaf-he can't talk to you." “Give me your hand-now promise—for I'm going to do a very foolish thing, which is to trust a man—promise you'll never tell it again.” "Well, I promise," replied I; supposing her secret of no consequence.
"Well, then-mind-you've promised. Father is no more deaf than you or I."
"Indeed!” replied I; "why he goes by the
name of Deaf Stapleton."
"I know he does, and makes every body believe that he is so; but it is to make money." "How can he make money by that?"
“There's many people in business who go down the river, and they wish to talk of their affairs without being overheard as they go down. They always call for Deaf Stapleton and there's many a gentleman and lady, who have much to say to each other, without wishing people to listen-you understand me?"
"O yes, I understand--Latin !”
Exactly-and they call for Deaf Stapleton; and by this means he gets more good fares than any other waterman, and does less work."
"But how will he manage now that I am
with him ?"
"O I suppose
it will depend upon his cus
tomers; if a single person wants to go down,
you will take the sculls; if they call for oars, you will both go; if he considers Deaf Stapleton only is wanted, you will remain on shore; or, perhaps, he will insist upon your being deaf too."
"But I do not like deceit."
"No, it's not right; although it appears to me that there is a great deal of it. Still I should like you to sham deaf, and then tell me all that people say. It would be so funny. Father never will tell a word."
"So far, your father, to a certain degree, excuses himself.”
“Well, I think he will soon tell you what I have now told you, but till then you must keep your promise; and now you must do as you please, as I must go down in the kitchen, and get dinner on the fire."
"I have nothing to do," replied I; “can I help you?"