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MY UNCLE'S STORY
ABOUT THE MAN IN A FUSTIAN JACKET.
A Good American Tale. Oh, how I loved to hear my Uncle tell the tale of the man in the fustian jacket! Again and again did he repeat the story, and always with as much life and glee as if he had never told it before. You shall have it, as near as I can remember it, in his own words.
“ It is an excellent thing for a man to be diligent in what be undertakes. If business is to answer, it must be attended to. If a plan is to succeed, it must be followed up with spirit. You shall have an instance of this. I will tell you of the man in the fustian jacket.
“Soon after I came to live in this house, as I was painting the palisades of my little garden to the front, a man in a fustian jacket stopped at the gate. You have a pretty little garden here, sir,' said he, and it looks all the better for the fresh paint on the palisades. I live just round the corner, and if you should ever want colours of any kind, I should be happy to supply you. I have ivory-black, drop-black, blue-black, and lamp-black; very good browns, purple, Spanish and Vandyke, and, though I say it, nobody has better blues, ochres, and umbers. Those who deal with me say I am famous for my gamboge, king's-yellow, and chrome-yellow: and as for vermilion, both English and Chinese, white-lead and flakewhite, Brunswick-green, emerald-green, and mineral-green, there is none better than mine to be had.'
“No sooner had I told him that no colour of any kind was wanted by me now, than he thanked me civilly, again spoke of my pretty garden, and went on. 'I wish,' thought I, rather hastily, that he would keep his gamboge, king's-yellow, and his vermilion, to himself-what do I want with his colour?'
“ The very next morning, as I stood in my little garden, again came by the man in the fustian jacket, carrying a large jar. 'How nice and fresh the shower, which fell in the night, has made your garden, Sir,' said he ; 'I am taking a jar of my neat’s-foot oil to one of your neighbours. If anything in the oil way should at any time be wanted, linseed or boiled, common train, seal, sperm, or Florence in casks, I shall be happy to serve you; I live only just round the corner.'
MY UNCLE'S STORY.
" What does the man mean?' said I to myself, when he was gone, ' pestering me with his linseed and boiled oil. I want none of it. I am not to be compelled, against my will, I
suppose, to buy his greasy oils! Why cannot the man keep quiet?'
“. Rather warm, sir,' said the man in the fustian jacket, as he paused for a moment, on passing by, in the middle of the same day. Rather warm, sir! Not exactly the day for bot joints, but better suited for cold meat and pickles. I am running with a pot of pickles to the house with the green blinds yonder. If you are fond of pickles, sir, my capers and cucumbers would just suit you; but I have all sorts--olives, both French and Spanish, onions, gerkins, walnuts, French beans, cabbage, capsicums, and cauliflower. I live rather bandy for
you, sir-only three doors round the corner.' · Yes,' thought I, you live handy enough to torment me! One would think it would be quite time enough to tell me all about your capers and your cucumbers, your capsicums and your cauliflowers, when I ask you; but that will be some time first, I promise you. I begin to be sadly out of temper.'
“On the evening of the same day, just as I was entering in at my garden gate, once more went by the man in the fustian jacket. Almost time to light up, sir,' said he; “I somehow forgot, when I was out with my basket this morning, to leave four pounds of mould candles at one of my customer's, and so I am taking them now. If
should want candles of any kind, sir, you will find in my store dips, fine wax, spermaceti, cocoa nut, composition, and metallic wicks, excellent. Perhaps, sir, you will give me a trial some day; for I am, as I may say, a sort of neighbour of yours, my shop being only just round the corner.'
“ Hardly could I keep my temper while he was talking to me, but when he was gone i gave way sadly. 'He will be a daily plague to me,' said I, and I wish that I had never come into the neighbourhood, or that he and his tallow candles were a hundred miles off.'
" I was pulling up a weed or two on the following day in my little garden, as Betty came to the door with her broom to sweep the steps, and, at the same instant, I heard the voice of the man with a fustian jacket, who, as usual, was on his way to take some article or other to bis customers. You deserve a garden, sir,' said be, “ for you keep it so nice and tidy. Your
MY UNCLE'S STORY,
girl, there, knows how to handle a broom, I see. I sell brooms, sir, and brushes of all kinds : best sboe brushes in sets, scrubbing brushes, stove, furniture, tooth, clothes, and hat brushes, as well as thrum mops and hemp and wool mats. I supply everything in the kitchen way: housemaid's gloves, black lead, servant's friend, bees-wax, turpentine, scouring paper, emery, fuller's earth, whiting, pipeclay, paste in pots, hearth-stones, knife-bricks, mason's dust, firewood, and matches. I think I told you, sir, that I live just round the corner?'
“Yes, you did tell me,' thought I, “and I have a great mind to tell you something. Hardly can I stir out into my front garden without being annoyed with a long catalogue of oils, pickles, and candles, and kitchen articles; but of one thing I am determined, that neither oil, pickle, candle, nor kitchen article, from your shop, shall ever come into my house.'
“From that time not a single day passed without my seeing, and hearing too, the man in the fuslian jacket. He seemed not only always ready to catch me in my garden, but always ready to take advantage of any little circumstance that occurred. At one time coming up as Betty brought in a fish, he thought it a very fine one, and told me that be kept the best of fish sauces, and, indeed, sauces of all kinds, anchovy, Burgess' essence, ketchup, mushroom, walnut, Indian soy, and currie powder; as well as all kinds of spices, nutmegs, cinnamon, pimento, cloves, ginger, mace, peppers, both black, cayenne, Chili, long, and white. At another time, when I had hung up my canary to the front, there he stood by the gate, calling it a pretty creature, and telling me that he sold bird seeds of every sort, and bird's sand. On a third occasion, he overtook me just as I stepped across to the post-office with a letter. We are both on the same errand, sir,' said he, for I have a letter to put in the office myself. It was directed by my son. See, sir, what a beautiful hand he writes!' and then he failed not to tell me that he sold writing paper, good ink, sealing wax and wafers, and excellent black-lead pencils, not forgetting to remind me, as before, that his shop was no distance from my house, being only just round the corner. In short, morning, noon, and night, when at home in my garden or walking abroad, I never seemed secure from having the man in the fustian jacket at my elbow. Again and again he repeated over the articles he sold, and again and again be informed me that he lived only just round the corner.
MY UNCLE'S STORY.
“Man is a changeable creature, and in many respects it is well that he is so, for if all his angry feelings and unjust opinions were to remain ever the same, he would be more unlovely than he now is. In my anger I thought unjustly of the man in the fustian jacket, but, in a little time, my anger passed away, for he turned out to be an honest, industrious, kind-hearted, and benevolent man. True it is that he pursued his business with more ardour than tradesmen usually do, but then he was attentive, punctual, and upright in sending in his orders, as he was active in obtaining them. His perseverance prevailed; I tried him, made inquiries about him, liked him, and at last so heartily respected him, that, from that time to this, all the colours, oil, pickles, candles, kitchen articles, sauces, spices, bird seed, writing paper, ink, sealing-wax, wafers, and black-lead pencils, that I have required, have been bought of him, nor have I ever once regretted the circumstance of his shop being only three doors round the corner.
“Now, why," continued my Uncle, “cannot we be as much in earnest in holy things, as the man in the fustian jacket is in his business? Here he is awake when we are asleep; he is moving while we are sitting still; he is busy while we are idle. He sets us an example that we might follow with advantage.
“Go where he will, the man in the fustian jacket makes it known that he is a tradesman; but go where we will, we too much hide our profession' as christians. He acts as if he thought highly of his trade, we almost as though we were ashamed of our religion. He tells all he meets of the article he sells, and we tell hardly any one of the truths we believe. If we talked of our Bibles as much as he does of his goods, and were half as anxious to spread abroad the gospel of Jesus Christ as he is to extend his business, it would be to our credit, and greatly to our advantage.
“Much have I learned from the man in the fustian jacket, for he continually wins his way by perseverance. What he does in temporal things, we should do in eternal things ; what he does to advance his welfare on earth, we ought to do to forward our happiness in heaven.
“ Think of the little value of his articles, and the exceeding great value of the truths of the Gospel! Surely, if he prizes his possessions, we ought to prize ours a hundredfold more. To know, sinners as we are, the way, and the only way to salvation, through Jesus Christ, who died, the just for the unjust, to