It could scarcely be called a trade, in spite of his favourite description of himself as `a honest tradesman.' His stock consisted of a wooden stool, made out of a broken-backed chair cut down, which stool, young Jerry, walking at his father's side, carried every morning to beneath the banking-house window that was nearest Temple Bar: where, with the addition of the first handful of straw that could be gleaned from any passing vehicle to keep the cold and wet from the odd-job-man's feet, it formed the encampment for the day. On this post of his, Mr. Cruncher was as well known to Fleet-street and the Temple, as the Bar itself,--and was almost as ill-looking.
Encamped at a quarter before nine, in good time to touch his three-cornered hat to the oldest of men as they passed in to Tellson's, Jerry took up his station on this windy March morning, with young Jerry standing by him, when not engaged in making forays through the Bar, to inflict bodily and mental injuries of an acute description on passing boys who were small enough for his amiable purpose. Father and son, extremely like each other, looking silently on at the morning traffic in Fleet-street, with their two heads as near to one another as the two eyes of each were, bore a considerable resemblance to a pair of monkeys. The resemblance was not lessened by the accidental circumstance, that the mature Jerry bit and spat out straw, while the twinkling eyes of the youthful Jerry were as restlessly watchful of him as of everything else in Fleet-street.
The head of one of the regular indoor messengers attached to Tellson's establishment was put through the door, and the word was given.
`Hooray, father! Here's an early job to begin with!'
Having thus given his parent God speed, young Jerry seated himself on the stool, entered on his reversionary interest in the straw his father had been chewing, and cogitated.
`Always rusty! His fingers is al-ways rusty!' muttered young Jerry. `Where does my father get all that iron rust from? He don't get no iron rust here!'
`YOU know the Old Bailey well, no doubt?' said one of the oldest of clerks to Jerry the messenger.
`Ye-es, sir,' returned Jerry, in something of a dogged manner. `I do know the Bailey.'