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To the eyes of Mr. Jeremiah Cruncher, sitting on his stool in Fleet-street with his grisly urchin beside him, a vast number and variety of objects in movement were every day presented. Who could sit upon anything in Fleet-street during the busy hours of the day, and not be dazed and deafened by two immense processions, one ever tending westward with the sun, the other ever tending eastward from the sun, both ever tending to the plains beyond the range of red and purple where the sun goes down! Mr. Jeremiah Cruncher saw many different things move past him as he sat on his stool on Fleet Street, with his grubby little son beside him. Who could sit on Fleet Street during the busy hours of the day and not be overwhelmed by the noise and sight of the two great streams of people going about their day? One was always heading west, and the other always heading east. Both were always heading toward the valleys past where the sun sets.
With his straw in his mouth, Mr. Cruncher sat watching the two streams, like the heathen rustic who has for several centuries been on duty watching one stream—saving that Jerry had no expectation of their ever running dry. Nor would it have been an expectation of a hopeful kind, since a small part of his income was derived from the pilotage of timid women (mostly of a full habit and past the middle term of life) from Tellson’s side of the tides to the opposite shore. Brief as such companionship was in every separate instance, Mr. Cruncher never failed to become so interested in the lady as to express a strong desire to have the honour of drinking her very good health. And it was from the gifts bestowed upon him towards the execution of this benevolent purpose, that he recruited his finances, as just now observed. Mr. Cruncher sat watching the two streams with a straw in his mouth, looking like a country farmer who has sat for hundreds of years keeping watch over one stream. Jerry, though, didn’t expect that the stream would ever dry up. He wouldn’t want it to dry up, since a small amount of his income came from helping timid, well-dressed older women cross from Tellson Bank’s side of the street to the other side. As short as these encounters were, Mr. Cruncher always became so friendly with these women that he would tell them that he wanted to drink to their health. They gave him money to do just that, adding to his income.
Time was, when a poet sat upon a stool in a public place, and mused in the sight of men. Mr. Cruncher, sitting on a stool in a public place, but not being a poet, mused as little as possible, and looked about him. There was a time when a poet might sit on a stool in public and contemplate the men he saw. Mr. Cruncher, sitting on his stool in public, wasn’t a poet. He thought as little as possible and just looked around.
It fell out that he was thus engaged in a season when crowds were few, and belated women few, and when his affairs in general were so unprosperous as to awaken a strong suspicion in his breast that Mrs. Cruncher must have been “flopping” in some pointed manner, when an unusual concourse pouring down Fleet-street westward, attracted his attention. Looking that way, Mr. Cruncher made out that some kind of funeral was coming along, and that there was popular objection to this funeral, which engendered uproar. He happened to be sitting and staring at a time when there weren’t many people out, so there were very few women to help across the street. He was doing so poorly that he started to suspect that his wife must have been praying against him. Just then an unusual group came hurrying down Fleet Street heading west. Mr. Cruncher looked their way and could see some kind of funeral moving along. He could tell that people were angry about it.
“Young Jerry,” said Mr. Cruncher, turning to his offspring, “it’s a buryin’.” “Young Jerry,” said Mr. Cruncher, turning to his son. “It’s a funeral.”
“Hooroar, father!” cried Young Jerry. “Hooray, Father!” cried Young Jerry.
The young gentleman uttered this exultant sound with mysterious significance. The elder gentleman took the cry so ill, that he watched his opportunity, and smote the young gentleman on the ear. The boy yelled his cheer with mysterious significance. His father was so upset by his cheer that he waited until no one was looking and then smacked the boy on the ear.
“What d’ye mean? What are you hooroaring at? What do you want to conwey to your own father, you young Rip? This boy is a getting too many for ME!” said Mr. Cruncher, surveying him. “Him and his hooroars! Don’t let me hear no more of you, or you shall feel some more of me. D’ye hear?” “What do you mean? What are you hooraying at? What are you trying to tell your father, you young punk? This boy is too much for me!” said Mr. Cruncher, looking at his son. “Him and his hoorays! Don’t let me hear any more out of you or I’ll hit you again. Do you hear me?”
“I warn’t doing no harm,” Young Jerry protested, rubbing his cheek. “I wasn’t doing anything wrong,” protested Young Jerry, rubbing his cheek.
“Drop it then,” said Mr. Cruncher; “I won’t have none of YOUR no harms. Get a top of that there seat, and look at the crowd.” “Stop it then,” said Mr. Cruncher. “I don’t want to hear you say you did nothing wrong. Get up on that stool and look at the crowd.”