Page:While the Billy Boils, 1913.djvu/241

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he looked at Arvie, and then at the coffin again, as if calculating whether the body would fit.

The mother uncovered the white, pinched face of the dead boy, and Bill came and stood by the sofa. He carelessly drew his right hand from his pocket, and laid the palm on Arvie's ice-cold forehead.

'Poor little cove!' Bill muttered, half to himself; and then, as though ashamed of his weakness, he said:

'There wasn't no post-mortem, was there?'

'No,' she answered; 'a doctor saw him the day before there was no post-mortem.'

'I thought there wasn't none,' said Bill, 'because a man that's been post-mortemed always looks as if he'd been hurt. My father looked right enough at first―just as if he was restin'―but after they'd had him opened he looked as if he'd been hurt. No one else could see it, but I could. How old was Arvie?'


'I'm twelve―goin' on for thirteen. Arvie's father's dead, ain't he?'


'So's mine. Died at his work, didn't he?'


'So'd mine. Arvie told me his father died of something with his heart!'


'So'd mine; ain't it rum? You scrub offices an' wash, don't yer?'


'So does my mother. You find it pretty hard to get a livin', don't yer, these times?'