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A Rogue's Life

invidiously from my fellow-workmen. Upon the whole, I got on well with them. Old
File and I struck up quite a friendship. Young File and Mill worked harmoniously
with me, but Screw and I (as I had foreboded) quarreled.
This last man was not on good terms with his fellows, and had less of the
doctor's confidence than any of the rest of us. Naturally not of a sweet temper,
his isolated position in the house had soured him, and he rashly attempted to
vent his ill-humor on me, as a newcomer. For some days I bore with him
patiently; but at last he got the better of my powers of endurance; and I gave him
a lesson in manners, one day, on the educational system of Gentleman Jones.
He did not return the blow, or complain to the doctor; he only looked at me
wickedly, and said: "I'll be even with you for that, some of these days." I soon
forgot the words and the look.
With Old File, as I have said, I became quite friendly. Excepting the secrets of
our prison-house, he was ready enough to talk on subjects about which I was
He had known his present master as a young man, and was perfectly familiar
with all the events of his career. From various conversations, at odds and ends of
spare time, I discovered that Doctor Dulcifer had begun life as a footman in a
gentleman's family; that his young mistress had eloped with him, taking away
with her every article of value that was her own personal property, in the shape of
jewelry and dresses; that they had lived upon the sale of these things for some
time; and that the husband, when the wife's means were exhausted, had turned
strolling-player for a year or two. Abandoning that pursuit, he had next become a
quack-doctor, first in a resident, then in a vagabond capacity--taking a medical
degree of his own conferring, and holding to it as a good traveling title for the rest
of his life. From the selling of quack medicines he had proceeded to the
adulterating of foreign wines, varied by lucrative evening occupation in the Paris
gambling houses. On returning to his native land, he still continued to turn his
chemical knowledge to account, by giving his services to that particular branch of
our commercial industry which is commonly described as the adulteration of
commodities; and from this he had gradually risen to the more refined pursuit of
adulterating gold and silver--or, to use the common phrase again, making bad
According to Old File's statement, though Doctor Dulcifer had never actually ill-
used his wife, he had never lived on kind terms with her: the main cause of the
estrangement between them, in later years, being Mrs. Dulcifer's resolute
resistance to her husband's plans for emerging from poverty, by the simple
process of coining his own money. The poor woman still held fast by some of the
principles imparted to her in happier days; and she was devotedly fond of her
daughter. At the time of her sudden death, she was secretly making
arrangements to leave the doctor, and find a refuge for herself and her child in a
foreign country, under the care of the one friend of her family who had not cast