Page:Court Royal.djvu/17

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slime was smeared over her hair and face and hands. Her soaked garments clung to her, revealing at once how few and thin they were.

By this time several persons had assembled. They surrounded the little group and eyed them curiously. These were mostly men, still chewing the remains of their dinner or picking their teeth. Mrs. Thresher, from the ham-shop, was there in a black body over a red petticoat, very short, exposing dirty stockings and slippers down at heel.

Questions showered on the poor creature, which she did not answer, perhaps did not catch. She clutched her child’s hand convulsively, and with disengaged hand wiped the water from her eyes.

‘Now look you here,’ said the pier-guard, ‘you oughtn’t to have done it, or if you did ought to do it, you ought to have done it in a less dirty place. Sutton Pool is not a palatable place in which to end existence. Wait till the tide is out, and have a look for yourself. I reckon further acquaintance won’t make you more friendly. It will rinse all taste of felo-de-se out of your mouth. Dead cats, rotten cabbage, decayed potatoes, cracked cloam (crockery), old tobacco-pipes, kettles and pans full of holes, boots bursted, and soleless shoes, scatted (broken) bottles, anything, everything that goes to make filth is chucked in there, and rots away into black paste which is proper consolidated smeech (smell). I reckon that Sutton Pool bottom is made of the dirtiest dregs of civilisation. That is what we’ve hauled you and your brat out of. If you’ve any sense of decency in you, keep out of Sutton Pool. The blue sea is a different crib altogether.’

‘I won’t be drownded neither in the blue sea, nor in Sutton Pool, nor in a pickling-tub,’ said the child resolutely; ‘I’m damned if I be.’

The circle of lookers-on burst out laughing.

‘Oh, you wicked child!’ exclaimed Mrs. Thresher, of the ham-shop. ‘Where do you expect to go, using them swearing words?’

‘Father said it when he meant a thing—much,’ answered the child.

‘Your father smoked, I reckon.’

‘Yes, he did.’

‘But you don’t see ladies smoke.’

‘No.’

‘Well,’ said Mrs. Thresher, ‘pipes and cusses are nat’ral in