Page:Court Royal.djvu/19

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rather than into the House. I reckon in the matter of dirt they’re about equal, only in the House it’s moral, and in the Pool its physical.’

‘Sither, lass,’ said the skipper, in strong Yorkshire accent, ‘how didst’a come here? Tell us all aboot it.’

‘My husband died,’ she answered timidly; ‘I sold everything I had, bit by bit, till all was gone. I couldn’t pay my rent, and I couldn’t buy no food. I went from place to place after work, but I could get none. No one would give me a situation till I got rid of the child. All were in one song—“Send her to the Union.” I couldn’t do that; so I thought we’d both go to heaven together.’

‘Have you no change of clothes anywhere?’ asked Mrs. Thresher; ‘because, if you have, you may change in my room, and I’ll turn my old man out while you do it.’

‘I’ve naught but what I stand up in,’ said the poor creature, ‘nor has Joanna, neither.’

‘Now, then, my lads,’ said the pierman, casting his eye round, ‘I propose we raise a few shillings among us to rig out the pair afresh.’

‘I reckon Mr. Lazarus can fit them out,’ said one of the by-standers.

‘O’ course he can,’ said the skipper; ‘but he’ll not do’t wi’out brass. Here’s half-a-crown to start wi’. Who’ll give something upon that? Here’s my cap as collecting-box.’

‘It’ll come expensive,’ remarked a bargeman in sepulchral tones; ‘I know what the rig-out of my missus costs me.’

‘A gown can be had secondhand for a trifle.’

‘A gown ain’t all,’ said the bargeman mysteriously.

‘What else, then?’

‘What else? Why, there’s stays,’ growled the bargeman. ‘Them figures—new—seven and eightpence three-farthings!’

‘Then there’s a petticoat,’ suggested a pilot, timidly; ‘if you doubt my word look around at all the fluttering bunting. Women must wear them things somehow, and they don’t use ’em as caps.’

A petticoat!’ exclaimed the north-country skipper. ‘Every respectable lass has two—one coloured, t’other white.’

‘Must the little maid have stays, too?’ asked the pierkeeper.

‘All females has stays,’ answered the bargeman. ‘Girls has ’em without bones. The bones come later in life.’

‘What more?’ asked the skipper.