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he is gone.
We walked round the splendid shining shop and down the passage, which would be dark but that the gas-lit door is always swinging to and fro, as the people who come to pawn go in and out. You may be sure there is a gin-shop handy to all pawnbrokers'.
A lean man in a dingy dress is walking lazily up and down the flags of Trotter's Court. His ragged trousers trail in the slimy mud there. The doors of the pawnbroker's, and of the ginshop on the other side, are banging to and fro: a little girl comes out of the former, with a tattered old handkerchief, and goes up and gives something to the dingy man. It is ninepence, just raised on his waistcoat. The man bids the child to 66 cut away home,” and when she is clear out of the court, he looks at us with a lurking scowl and walks into the gin-shop doors, which swing always opposite the pawnbroker's shop.
Why should he have sent the waistcoat wrapped in that ragged old cloth? Why should he have sent the child into the pawnbroker's box, and not have gone himself? He did not choose to let her see him go into the gin-shop
gin-shop — why drive her in at the opposite door? The child knows well enough whither
She might as well have carried an old waistcoat in her hand through the street as a ragged napkin. A sort of vanity, you see, drapes itself in that dirty rag ; or is it a kind of debauched shame, which does not like to go naked? The fancy can follow the poor girl up the black alley, up the black stairs, into the bare room, where mother and children are starving, while the lazy ragamuffin, the family bully, is gone into the ginshop to - try our celebrated Cream of the Valley,” as the bill in red letters bids him.”
I waited in this court the other day,” Whitestock said, “just like that man, while a friend of mine went in to take her husband's tools out of pawn an honest man a journeyman shoemaker, who lives hard by.” And we went to call on the journeyman shoemaker — Randle's Buildings — two-pair back over a blacking manufactory. The blacking was made. by one manufactor, who stood before a tub stirring up his produce, a good deal of which and nothing else was on the floor. We passed through this emporium, which abutted on a dank, steaming little court, and up the narrow stair to the twopair back.
The shoemaker was at work with his recovered tools, and his wife was making woman's shoes (an inferior branch of the business) by him. A shrivelled child was lying on the bed in the corner of the room. There was no bedstead, and indeed
scarcely any furniture, save the little table on which lay his tools and shoes — a fair-haired, lank, handsome young man, with a wife who may have been pretty once, in better times, and before starvation pulled her down. She had but one thin gown; it clung to a frightfully emaciated little body.
Their story was the old one. The man had been in good work, and had the fever. The clothes had been pawned, the furniture and bedstead had been sold, and they slept on the mattress; the mattress went, and they slept on the floor ; the tools went, and the end of all things seemed at hand, when the gracious apparition of the Curate, with his umbrella, came and cheered those stricken-down poor folks.
The journeyman shoemaker must have been astonished at such a sight. He is not, or was not a church-goer.
He is a man of advanced” opinions ; believing that priests are hypocrites, and that clergymen in general drive about in coachesand-four, and eat a tithe-pig a day. This proud priest got Mr. Crispin a bed to lie upon, and some soup to eat; and (being the treasurer of certain good folks of his parish, whose charities he administers) as soon as the man was strong enough to work, the curate lent him money wherewith to redeem his tools, and which our friend is paying back by instalments at this day. And any man who has seen these two honest men talking together, would have said the shoemaker was the haughtiest of the two.
We paid one more morning visit. This was with an order for work to a tailor of reduced circumstances and enlarged family. He had been a master, and was now forced to take work by the job. He who had commanded many men, was now fallen down to the ranks again. His wife told us all about his misfortunes. She is evidently very proud of them. - He failed for seven thousand pounds,” the poor woman said, three or four times during the course of our visit. It gave her husband a sort of dignity to have been trusted for so much money.
The Curate must have heard that story many times, to which he now listened with great patience in the tailor's house — a large, clean, dreary, faint-looking room, smelling of poverty. Two little stunted, yellow-headed children, with lean pale faces and large protruding eyes, were at the window staring with all their might at Guy Fawkes, who was passing in the street, and making a great clattering and shouting outside, while the luckless tailor's wife was prating within about her husband's bygone riches. I shall not in a hurry forget the picture. The empty room in a dreary background ; the tailor's wife in brown), stalk
ing up and down the planks, talking endlessly; the solemn children staring out of the window as the sunshine fell on their faces, and honest Whitestock seated, listening, with the tails of his coat through the chair.
His business over with the tailor, we start again ; Frank Whitestock trips through alley after alley, never getting any mud on his boots, somehow, and his white neck-cloth making a wonderful shine in those shady places. He has all sorts of acquaintance, chiefly amongst the extreme youth, assembled at the doors or about the gutters. There was one small person occupied in emptying one of these rivulets with an oyster-shell, for the purpose, apparently, of making an artificial lake in a hole hard by, whose solitary gravity and business air struck me much, while the Curate was very deep in conversation with a small coalman. A half-dozen of her comrades were congregated round a scraper and on a grating hard by, playing with à mangy little puppy, the property of the Curate's friend.
I know it is wrong to give large sums of money away promiscuously, but I could not help dropping a penny into the child's oyster-shell, as she came forward holding it before her like a tray. At first her expression was one rather of wonder than of pleasure at this influx of capital, and was certainly quite worth the small charge of one penny, at which it was purchased.
For a moment she did not seem to know what steps to take; but, having communed in her own mind, she presently resolved to turn them towards a neighboring apple-stall, in the direction of which she went without a single word of compliinent passing between us. Now, the children round the scraper were witnesses to the transaction. " He's give her a penny',' one remarked to another, with hopes miserably disappointed that they might come in for a similar present.
She walked on to the apple-stall meanwhile, holding her penny behind her.
And what did the other little ones do? They put down the puppy as if it had been so much dross. And one after another they followed the penny-piece to the apple-stall.
A DINNER IN THE CITY.
I. Out of a mere love for variety and contrast, I think we cannot do better, after leaving the wretched Whitestock among his starving parishioners, than transport ourselves to the City, where we are invited to dine with the Worshipful Company of Bellows-Menders, at their splendid Hall in Marrow-pudding Lane.
Next to eating good dinners, a healthy man with a benerolent turn of mind must like, I think, to read about them. When I was a boy, I had by heart the Barmecide's feast in the “ Arabian Nights ;” and the culinary passages in Scott's novels (in which works there is a deal of good eating) always were my favorites. The Homeric poems are full, as everybody knows, of roast and boiled : and every year I look forward with pleasure to the newspapers of the 10th of November for the menu of the Lord Mayor's feast, which is sure to appear in those journals. What student of history is there who does not remember the City dinner given to the Allied Sovereigns in 1814? It is good even now, and to read it ought to make a man hungry, had he had five meals that day. In a word, I had long, long yearned in my secret heart to be present at a City festival. The last year's papers had a bill of fare commencing with “ four hundred tureens of turtle, each containing pints ;” and concluding with the pineapples and ices of the dessert. "Fancy two thousand pints of turtle, my love,” I have often said to Mrs. Spec, “ in a vast silver tank, smoking fragrantly, with lovely green islands of calipash and calipee floating about — why, my dear, if it had been invented in the time of Vitellius he would have bathed in it!”
“ He would have been a nasty wretch,” Mrs. Spec said, who thinks that cold mutton is the most wholesome food of man. However, when she heard what great company was to be present at the dinner, the Ministers of State, the Foreign Ambassadors, some of the bench of Bishops, no doubt the Judges, and a great portion of the Nobility, she was pleased at the card which was sent to her husband, and made a neat tie to my white neck-cloth before I set off on the festive journey. She warned me to be very cautious, and obstinately refused to allow me the Chubb door-key.
66 Look on,
The very card of invitation is a curiosity. It is almost as big as a tea-tray. It gives one ideas of a vast, enormous hospitality. Gog and Magog in livery might leave it at your door. If a man is to eat up that card, heaven help us, I thought; the Doctor must be called in. Indeed, it was a Doctor who procured me the placard of invitation. Like all medical men who have published a book upon diet, Pillkington is a great gormand, and he made a great favor of procuring the ticket for me from his brother of the Stock Exchange, who is a Citizen and a Bellows-Mender in his corporate capacity.
We drove in Pillkington's brougham to the place of mangezvous, through the streets of the town, in the broad daylight, dressed out in our white waistcoats and ties; making a sensation upon all beholders by the premature splendor of our appear
There is something grand in that hospitality of the citizens, who not only give you more to eat than other people, but who begin earlier than anybody else. Major Bangles, Captain Canterbury, and a host of the fashionables of my acquaintance, were taking their morning's ride in the Park as we drove through. You should have seen how they stared at us! It gave me a pleasure to be able to remark mentally, gents, we too are sometimes invited to the tables of the great.”
We fell in with numbers of carriages as we were approaching Citywards, in which reclined gentlemen with white neck-cloths - grand equipages of foreign ambassadors, whose uniforms, and stars, and gold lace glistened within the carriages, while their servants with colored cockades looked splendid without: these reered by the Doctor's brougham-horse, which was a little fatigued with his professional journeys in the morning. General Sir Roger Bluff, K.C.B., and Colonel Tucker, were stepping into a cab at the United Service Club as we passed it. The veterans blazed in scarlet and gold lace. It seemed strange that men so fainous, if they did not mount their chargers to go to dinner, should ride in any vehicle under a coach-and-six; and instead of having a triumphal car to conduct them to the City, should go thither in a rickety cab, driven by a ragged charioteer smoking a dhoodeen. In Cornhill we fell into a line, and formed a complete regiment of the aristocracy. Crowds were gathered round the steps of the old hall in Marrow-pudding Lane, and welcomed us nobility and gentry as we stepped out of our equipages at the door. The policemen could hardly restrain the ardor of these low fellows, and their sarcastic cheers were sometimes very unpleasant. There was one rascal who made an observation about the size of my white waistcoat, for