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Reading Dickens An Easy Shave

An Easy Shave
Martin Chuzzlewit - Condensed from Chapter 29
Young Bailey, street smart and moving up in the world, has gone to visit his friend the barber, Poll Sweedlepipe, and has decided that his baby face could use a shave in this comic scene from Martin Chuzzlewit.

[Poll] happened to have been sharpening his razors, which were lying open in a row, while a huge strop dangled from the wall. Glancing at these preparations, Mr Bailey stroked his chin, and a thought appeared to occur to him. 'Poll,' he said, 'I ain’t as neat as I could wish about the gills. Being here, I may as well have a shave, and get trimmed close.' The barber stood aghast; but Mr Bailey divested himself of his neckcloth, and sat down in the easy shaving chair with all the dignity and confidence in life. There was no resisting his manner. The evidence of sight and touch became as nothing. His chin was as smooth as a new-laid egg or a scraped Dutch cheese; but Poll Sweedlepipe wouldn't have ventured to deny, on affidavit, that he had the beard of a Jewish rabbi.

Easy Shaving by Phiz

'Go with the grain, Poll, all round, please,' said Mr Bailey, screwing up his face for the reception of the lather. 'You may do wot you like with the bits of whisker. I don’t care for 'em.' The meek little barber stood gazing at him with the brush and soap-dish in his hand, stirring them round and round in a ludicrous uncertainty, as if he were disabled by some fascination from beginning. At last he made a dash at Mr Bailey's cheek. Then he stopped again, as if the ghost of a beard had suddenly receded from his touch; but receiving mild encouragement from Mr Bailey, in the form of an adjuration to 'Go in and win', he lathered him bountifully. Mr Bailey smiled through the suds in his satisfaction.

'Gently over the stones, Poll. Go a-tiptoe over the pimples!' Poll Sweedlepipe obeyed, and scraped the lather off again with particular care. Mr Bailey squinted at every successive dab, as it was deposited on a cloth on his left shoulder, and seemed, with a microscopic eye, to detect some bristles in it; for he murmured more than once, 'Reether redder than I could wish, Poll.' The operation being concluded, Paul fell back and stared at him again, while Mr Bailey, wiping his face on the jack-towel, remarked, 'that arter late hours nothing freshened up a man so much as a easy shave.'

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