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Wilson's Border Tales
Mr Samuel Ramsay Thriven

Chapter 2


"Well," said Mr Samuel Thriven, after he had retired to his house, "this has been hard and hot work; but, a man has a satisfaction in doing his duty, and that satisfaction may not be diminished by a bottle of port."

Now the port was as good as Ofley’s; and Mr Thriven’s thirst was nothing the less for the fire of the previous night, which he had done his utmost not to extinguish, and as he was in good spirits, he, like those people in good health, who, to make themselves better, begin to take in a load of Morrison’s pills, drew another cork, with that increased sound which belongs peculiarly to second bottles, and, in a short time, was well through with his potation. "How much now," said he, as he pretended, in a knowing way, to look for a dead fly in the glass, which he held up between him and the candle, shutting, in the operation, the left eye, according to the practice of connoisseurs—"How much may I make of this transaction in the way of business?—Let me see—let me see."

And, as he accordingly tried to see, he took down from the mantel-piece an ink-bottle and a pen, and, having no paper within reach, he laid hold of a small book, well-known to serious-minded people, and which was no other, in fact, than "The Pilgrim’s Progress." But it was all one to Mr Samuel Ramsay Thriven, in the middle of his second bottle, what the book was, provided it had a blank leaf at the beginning or end thereof. It might, indeed, have been the "Louping-on Stone for Heavy-bottomed Believers," or the "Economy of Human Life," or the "Young Man’s Best Companion," or "A New Way to Pay Old Debts," or any other book or brochure in the wide republic of letters which the wisdom or wit of man has ever produced. It may verily be much doubted if he knew himself what book it was.

"Well, let me see," said he again, as he seized the pen, and held the blank leaf open before him. "The three thousand pounds lost by the fire is a very good item; I can easily make a very good list of very bad debts to the extent of five hundred pounds; I have three thousand of good bank-notes in the house; and if I get off with a dividend of five shillings in the pound, which I can pay out of my stock, I may clear by this single transaction, in the way of business, as much as may make me comfortable for the whole period of my natural life."

And having made some monologue of this kind, he began to jot down particulars; laying on the table his pen, occasionally, to take another glass of the port wine, and resuming his operation again, with that peculiar zest which accompanies a playfulness of the fancy on a subject of darling interest. So he finished his arithmetical operation and dream, just about the time when the wine finished him, fell sound asleep, and awoke about two in the morning with a headache, and no more recollection of having committed his secret to the blank leaf of "The Pilgrim’s Progress," than if he had never written a word thereon at all.


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