The Happy Family

Cover of book The Happy Family
Categories: Fiction » Literature

THE HAPPY FAMILY - 1922 - To METHUSALUM A VERY OLD FRIEND OF MINE IT ia to be clearly understood tlint all the cl aracters in this book arc fictitious. Renders who imagine that they detect portraits i


n the eectiona treating of the publishing trade will he wasting their ingenuity - CONTENTS CHAP. I B-Y HISTORY . . . I1 THE PARTY . VII m s PRIDE . XVI FAMILY AF FAIRS . XVII Tm F EWELL . XVIII THE FORTUNE O F WAR . XIX THE END OF THE STORY THE HAPPY FAMILY - CHAPTER I FAMILY HISTORY J ERRARD MERSON, at the age of thirteen, was one of several boys in the service of Dickertons, the printers. He carried lunches for the men, and hung about, waiting to be served, in steaming ham-and-beef shops where they sold brisket piled in layers upon great spikes, and boiled beef, and boiled pork, with carrots and pease-pudding and grey plum-pudding in long rolls like dead spotted snakes, and hot sawloys and faggots as rich and odorous as the black puddings themselves. He used to carry back to the works greasy packets of pork and pudding, with beer-cans full of boiling tea and coffee and his apron was green and black with greasy printers ink. And these days, when he joined the shouting mob at midday, and watched the long knives slipping easily through the succulent pork or the oozing brisket, when he smelt the cloying pease-pudding and the pasty spotted-dog, were the happiest in his life. He loved to match the proprietor of the ham-and-beef shop, in , his white apron, cutting with the keen justesse of the fine artist, and t o gaze in fascination at the scales which seemed as though they would never be moved by the added slices, until at last they dropped with a slow dignity, hesitating for the exact weight, and mere promptly relieved from their suspense by the proprietors eager hand. He liked, while he was waiting, to see a man come, hurriedly and perspiringly, from the steaming murk behind the counter, bearing fresh supplies of food and to hear the endless clatter, and the babble of voices, and to heave his way through the others, laden with heavy packets that announced, in furious steam and odour, their glorious contents. Sometimes, when he was quite an old man, he found his ancient delights, rather vague through long forgetting, awake again in his imagination and then he would rest his head upon his hand, and think about those hurried, eager days, when there was no time for fears of the future, and when the days were short and full of happy auoyies and he would shake his head as he thought, knowlng that he had never been as happy since. When he learnt his trade, of course, Jerrard Amerson grew more fastidious, thinking of what was due to his increasing years, just as he watched the hair growing fresh upon his face and marking his new manhood. He would not then run the risk of being seen in a ham-and-beef shop but sent a boyfor his own lunch, and ate it near the silent machine y, which had been still pounding along, and shaking all the flooring, for a few seconds after the sounding of the sharp luncheon whistle. Those days, too, he sometimes remembered, when he had been feeling his own ambition, and recognizing his power to make something of his life l but they were dimmer in his recollection, because they had no sweet smells or poignant experiences to bring them clearly to his mind-only a consciousness of swelling and swollen dignity, and a pride in himself that had been betrayed by his later years of passivity...

The Happy Family
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