A Child of the Jago/Chapter 8

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When Dicky Perrott and the small hunchback were hauling and struggling across the street, old Fisher came down from the top-floor back, wherein he dwelt with his son Bob, Bob's wife and two sisters, and five children; an apartment in no way so clean as the united efforts of ten people might be expected to have made it. Old Fisher, on whose grimy face the wrinkles were deposits of mud, stopped at the open door on the first floor, and, as Dicky had done, took a peep. Perplexed at the monstrous absence of dirt, and encouraged by the stillness. Old Fisher also ventured within. Nobody was in charge, and Old Fisher, mentally pricing the pink glass vases at three-pence, made for a small chest in the corner of the room and lifted the lid. Within lay many of Roper's tools, from among which he had that morning taken such as he might want on an emergent call to work, to carry as he tramped Curtain Road. Clearly these were the most valuable things in the place, and, slipping a few small articles into his pockets, Old Fisher took a good double handful of the larger, and tramped upstairs with them. Presently he returned with Bob's missus, and together they started with more. As they emerged, however, there on the landing stood the little hunchback, sobbing and smearing his face with his sleeve. At sight of this new pillage he burst into sharp wails, standing impotent on the landing, his streaming eyes following the man and woman ascending before him. Old Fisher, behind, stumped the stairs with a clumsy affectation of absent-mindedness; the woman in front looked down, merely indifferent. Scarce were they vanished above, however, when the little hunchback heard his father and mother on the lower stairs.