Page:Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.djvu/95

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The Exterminating Machines

''E's 'eard all about the way Owen goes on about politics and religion, an' one thing an' another, an' about the firm scampin' the work. You know that sort of talk don't do, does it?'

'Of course it don't.'

''Unter would 'ave got rid of 'im long ago, but it wasn't 'im as took 'im on in the first place. It was Rushton 'imself as giv 'im a start. It seems Owen took a lot of samples of 'is work an' showed 'em to the Bloke.'

'Is them the things wot's 'angin' up in the shop winder?'

'Yes,' said Crass, contemptuously; 'but 'e's no good on plain work. Of course e' does a bit of grainin' an' writin'—after a fashion—when there's any to do, and that ain't often; but on plain work, why Sawkins is as good as 'im for most of it any day!'

'Yes, I suppose 'e is,' replied Easton, feeling rather ashamed of himself for the part he was taking in this conversation.

Although he had for the moment forgotten the existence of Bert, Crass had instinctively lowered his voice; but the boy—who had left off working to warm his hands by putting them into his trousers pockets—managed, by listening attentively, to hear every word.

'You know there's plenty of people wouldn't give the firm no more work if they knowed about it,' Crass continued; 'just fancy sendin' a swine like that to work in a lady's or gentleman's 'ouse—a bloody Atheist!'

'Yes, it is a bit orf, when you look at it like that.'

'I know my missis—for one—wouldn't 'ave a feller like that in our place. We 'ad a lodger once and she found out that 'e was a freethinker or something and she cleared 'im out bloody quick, I can tell yer!'

'Oh, by the way,' said Easton, glad of an opportunity to change the subject, 'you don't happen to know of anyone as wants a room, do you? We've got one more than we want, so the wife thought that we might as well let it.'

Crass thought for a moment. 'Can't say as I do,' he answered, doubtfully, 'Slyme was talking last week about leaving the place 'e's lodging at, but I don't know whether 'e's got another place to go to. You might ask him. I don't know of anyone else.'

'I'll speak to 'im,' replied Easton. 'What's the time? It must be nearly on it.'

'So it is: just on eight,' exclaimed Crass, and drawing his