Page:Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.djvu/73

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The Placard


or even the smoking what made 'im go on like that. He knows very well the time it takes. The real reason is that he thinks I was gettin' too much money. Work is done so rough nowadays that chaps like Sawkins is good enough for most of it. Hunter shoved me off just because I was getting the top money; and you'll see I won't be the only one.'

'I'm afraid you're right,' returned Owen. 'Did you see Rushton when you went for your money?'

'Yes,' replied Linden. 'I hurried up as fast as I could, but Hunter was there first. He passed me on his bike before I got half way, so I suppose he told his tale before I came. Anyway, when I started to speak to Mr Rushton he wouldn't listen, said he couldn't interfere between Mr Hunter and the men.'

'Ah! they're a bad lot, them two,' said the old woman shaking her head sagely, 'but it'll all come 'ome to 'em, you'll see. They'll never prosper. The Lord will punish them.'

Owen did not feel very confident of this. Most of the people he knew who had prospered were very similar in character to the two worthies in question. However, he did not want to argue with this poor old woman.

'When Tom was called up to go to the war,' said the young woman, bitterly, 'Mr Rushton shook hands with him and promised to give him a job when he came back. But now that poor Tom's gone and they know that me and the children's got no one to look to but father, they do this.'

Although at the mention of her dead son's name old Mrs Linden was evidently distressed, she was still mindful of the Atheist's presence, and hastened to rebuke her daughter-in-law.

'You shouldn't say we've got no one to look to, Mary,' she said; 'we're not as them who are without God and without hope in the world. The Lord is our shepherd. He careth for the widow and the fatherless.'

Owen was very doubtful about this also. He had seen so many badly cared for children about the streets lately, and what he remembered of his own sorrowful childhood was all evidence to the contarry.

An awkward silence succeeded. Owen did not wish to continue this conversation: he was afraid that he might say something that would hurt the old woman. Besides, he was anxious to get away; he began to feel cold in his wet clothes.

As he put his empty cup on the table he said:

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