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    Jack stood charged with cutting and wounding the donkeys with a heavy flail-like instrument. At the request of the magistrate the instrument was put in as evidence. It was produced by the defendant from the depths of a side pocket, and proved to be a switch of about eighteen inches in length. “This is the flail, your honour,” said I, “and I own I use it for tickling Tom and Billy, my donkeys. They want no more to make ’em fly.” The case was dismissed. Jack left the court with a clear conscience and an unblemished name among costers; for, although some of them may neglect their wives and families, it seems to be a point of honour with all to treat their donkeys with kindness. For the kindness bestowed the animal invariably shows its gratitude by perfect docility and willingness to bear the yoke imposed by its master. The donkeys fare like their owners; a prosperous day will secure for them some dainty, or at least a feed without stint, of oats, beans, and hay, at a cost of eightpence or ninepence.

    ” I always feed my beast,” said a coster to me, ” to make sure he gets his grub regular. I look after him too, as I would a brother. He’s worth all the trouble I can take about him. If he could only speak, I’m blest if he wouldn’t lick all the scholards at the Board School. I bought him for five pounds at Smithfield Market, Caledonian Road. Some ten years ago he would have fetched only half that money. Everything’s gone up, and donkeys to about double the price they used to was. Nothing in that line with legs to be had now under two pounds, and nothing good under a fiver. I’ve seen me get five shillings out of the sovereign in buying a beast some ten years ago. There’s ever so many more costers now in London than there wor at that time. That’s how it comes, I think; greater demand, and everything dearer. The carts we use may be bought second-hand, from a pound to five pounds, and the harness, wot’s been used, from five shillings to a sovereign, according to its condition.

    “During winter I deal in coke, which I get at the gas works at five shillings a load of six sacks. Wholesale, a sack fetches me one and six; but it pays best to sell it to poor folks, my chief customers, in small lots at a penny and twopence a lot. I carry no weights, a basket is my measure, it goes much further that way. Coke measures better than it weighs. But if one be fairly honest– some ain’t by half so honest as they should be-it makes not such mighty odds in the end which way the coke is sold. I don’t know as it’s fair, but the poorer folks be, the more ‘ave they to fork out for everything. Costers, most on ’em, could not live if they did everything on the square. Many buy dear, and sell dearer. My customers are poor, wonderful poor, living round Battersea and thereabouts. I don’t believe some of ’em women and children ‘ave clothes to cover ’em, so they use coal or coke in winter to get up some heat. Many of my best customers I never see, though they deal’ reglar.’ I see no more of ’em than a dirty ‘and, or lean arm, stuck out with the coppers through half-closed doors. Summer’s the time for such like folks, when the sun’s out and warm. They take ‘art then and come out with some cheap rags on. Most of the men are labourers when they can get work, and loafers when they can’t. The women, many of ’em, work in the dust-yards, picking rubbish. That is in fine weather. They make about two shillings a day, and they tell me they gets the bones and rags that turns up. The best men can make four shillings or four and six a day labouring at the gas works. When I set up, as I said, part of my traps was borrowed. Every- thing in our line can be ‘ad on hire, from a basket or weights to a donkey, and stock can be got by going shares in the profits. But it don’t pay to borrow or hire. You ‘ave to pay as much for the hire of a basket or a pot in a fortnight as would buy the article.”

    Jack trades in summer with silver sand, which may be bought from a dealer in sand, hearth-stone, bath-brick, and pipeclay, in Old Kent Road. The silver sand costs the caster about eleven shillings a ton. Red sand about the same. When ordered in large quantities, the caster will undertake to lay it down in any part of London at about thirty shillings per ton. The red sand is chiefly used in livery stables, and the white for tap-room floors, the polishing of pewter pots, horse-harness, &c. Half-a-crown a bushel, measured in a basket, is paid for silver sand; one shilling and sixpence a peck; the price increasing in proportion as the quantity supplied decreases. Half a ton sold in this way returns a profit of at least twenty-five shillings. The average profits of the costermonger, with care and economy, not only enable him to live well, but to save a portion of his earnings, which he not unfrequently lends at enormous rates of interest to his less provident neighbours. The loans contracted by persons of his class are speedily repaid, as security is neither sought by the lender nor tendered by the borrower. I t is customary in some instances to lend barrow and stock day by day. If the stock is worth twenty shillings, about thirty shillings must be returned to the lender at the close of the day, when the barrow has been cleared. There are, nevertheless, many members of this modest fraternity who, like Black Jack, started life by borrowing, and who at length filled the position of independent master costermongers.