Page:Court Royal.djvu/21

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perhaps you can pawn the child to him, and raise a few shillings on her!’

The suggestion elicited a general laugh. The woman, however, took it seriously, and walked towards the pawnbroker’s shop, drawing the child along with her.

‘Here is t’brass a’ve gotten together for thee,’ said the skipper, pouring the coin from his cap into her hand. ‘Take it, and get the ten articles thyself.’

Then he signed to the others to withdraw, and they, with great delicacy, did so, whilst the woman entered the pawnbroker’s shop.

‘Mates,’ said the skipper, ‘leave the lass to do the shopping alone. It’s more decent. She’ll get the ten articles. Trust a woman to bargain. And whilst shoo’s aboot it we’ll put heads together and consider what is to be done wi’ the little bairn.’

‘Did you hear her scream?’ asked the pilot.

‘Her ’d do as a syren (steam whistle) to an ironclad, and rouse the Three Towns (Plymouth, Stonehouse, and Devonport) when coming into harbour.’

‘Scream!’ exclaimed another man, ‘I should like to know what man or woman but the old lady under the umbrella by the ginger-beer could fail to hear her. Mark my words! That little maid ain’t born to be drowned. How her worked her way up the chain out o’ the slime! Well,’ sententiously, ‘there be other chains than that in this world; and may she work herself up the next she catches as well as she went up that!’


The woman entered the shop of Mr. Lazarus. When there she stood trembling and looking down, confused or frightened, whilst the child at her side peered about with eager eyes at the articles with which the shop was crowded.

Mr. Lazarus was a dark man, of distinct Israelitish type, his hair cut short, like moleskin, but his jaws and chin covered with a bristly scrub. He was wont to shave once a week, and went bristly and black between times. His eye ran over the