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IT was four o'clock in the morning,—and the
Cow with the Iron Tail prepared for the
duties of the day with her accustomed
stolidity. Standing bolt upright, at the end of a
dusky court-yard, where day-break found it
very difficult to penetrate, she submitted to
the seizure of her iron tail by a sturdy Welsh
girl, and as it was raised up and down, she
spouted forth from her innocent nozzle a
conscientious stream of water into the
unconscientious vessels of Mr. William Yawl, the
dairyman, whose neat little shop was situated
at a convenient distance. This shop, or dairy,
had a low-fronted window, in which were seen
several tin cans, ranged round a small slanting
board, whereon appeared the portrait of
a red and white cow, between whose legs and
the window glass was thrust a little basket,
containing five eggs and a cobweb. A geranium,
with a few dusty leaves and a very red
pot, was placed in the background. Over the
ledge of the door stood a small field-gate,
originally painted white, but being made of
tin, it had several stains of rust running
down the bars, and had also lost somewhat
of its original shape and attitude. Into this
door came hurrying a Welsh girl, with two
wooden pails, just filled from the Cow with
the Iron Tail, standing bolt upright in Pump
Court, Skarton's Buildings, High Holborn.
The girl was soon followed by a boy, who
brought a large pitcher full of water. He
jostled the girl in the narrow passage, as she
was bustling forth again with her pails for a
fresh supply; and this went on until the
quantity required had been obtained.

Between the Dairy of Mr. William Yawl
and Pump Court, there intervened an alley, a
mews, and a narrow street. At the corner of
the latter, and commanding a peep down the
alley, and a squint round the mews, perched
the thin, three-windowed houseone window
standing on the top of anotherof Mr. Tim
Slivers, the barber, whose blue-and-white
sign-pole projected from his second window,
so as to attract customers at right angles,
acute angles, obtuse angles, and from over-
the-way. Mr. Yawl's water business being
over, he had hurried off to Newgate Market,
and was now on his way back, at long strides,
with something large and soft, carefully
folded up in a bundle-handkerchief. When, as
he was passing the corner just described, out
bolted Mr. Tim Slivers upon himthough the
shutters of his shop were not downand
seized him by the coat-tail.

"Stop!" said Tim.

"Oh, good morning, Mr. Slivers," said
Yawl, much startled and embarrassed; "I did
not think you ever got up so soon."

"Never you mind about that," answered
Mr. Slivers, keeping his hold on the coat-tail.
"I'm up too early for you, it seems;" and he
gave a knowing, and rather malicious smiling
look at the large, soft bundle under Mr.
Yawl's right arm.

"What do you mean?" cried the alarmed

"Just this," said Mr. Slivers. "You've
left my easy-shaving shop for the oyster-
knife scraping of Podgy Green, and I won't
stand it. Mark that! One thing more,"—
and Mr. Tim Slivers raised his forefinger
"I'll peach!" Uttering this dreadful word,
he lowered the tip of his forefinger, and,
poking it deep into the surface of the yielding
bundle, gave a wicked grin, and ran back into
his dark doorway.

The face of Mr. William Yawl turned as
pale as one of his own milk-pans, as he stood,
staring stupidly at the dark doorway into
which Slivers had just skipped out of sight.
He next looked down at his bundle, glancing
all over it, to see if any aperture had betrayed
its contents. No aperture of any kind was
visible, and he slowly turned aside, and bent
his way to his Dairy with oppressed and
anxious feelings. His batch of milk sent out
that morning was a failure: it was more than
usual in quantity, but not of its usual good
colour, and had, if attentively considered
before mixing it in tea or coffee, a very queer,
and, to the uninitiated, an inexplicable twang.
Apprehensionnervousnessthat was the
cause of it.

Mr. Yawl was unable to eat any breakfast;
and after many hesitations during an hour
and a-half, he bent his tremulous steps
towards the threatening pole of Mr. Tim
Slivers, and entering the shop, announced,
with a foolish smile, intended to be easy and
cordial, that he had come to be shaved.

"So then, at last, you really do want shaving,"
said Mr. Slivers, assiduously continuing