SCENE.--A street in Mayfair. MRS. CLIFFORD'S house. A pastrycook's shop. Boys looking in at the window.
Bill. I say, Jim, ain't it a lot o' grub? If I wos a pig now,--
Jack. I likes to hear Bill a supposin' of hisself. Go it, Bill!--There ain't nothink he can't suppose hisself, Jim.--Bein' as you ain't a pig. Bill, you've got yer own trotters, an' yer own tater-trap.
Bill. Vereupon blue Bobby eccosts me with the remark, "I wants you, Bill;" and seem' me too parerlyzed to bolt, he pops me in that 'ere jug vithout e'er a handle.
Jack. Mother kep' a pig once.
Jim. What was he like, Jack?
Jack. As like any other pig as ever he could look; accep' that where other pigs is black he wor white, an' where other pigs is white he wor black.
Jim. Did you have the milk in your tea, Jack?
Jack. Pigs ain't got no milk, Jim, you stupe!
Bill. Pigs has milk, Jack, only they don't give it to coves.--I wish I wos the Lord Mayor!
Jack. Go it again, Bill. He ought ha' been a beak, Bill ought. What 'ud you do, Bill, supposin' as how you wos the Lord Mayor?
Bill. I'd take all the beaks, an' all the peelers, an' put their own bracelets on 'em, an' feed 'em once a day on scraps o' wittles to bring out the hunger: a cove can't be hungry upon nuffin at all.
Jim. He gets what mother calls the squeamishes.
Jack. Well, Bill?
Bill. Well, the worry moment their bellies was as long an' as loose as a o'-clo'-bag of a winter's mornin', I'd bring 'em all up to this 'ere winder, five or six at a time--with the darbies on, mind ye--
Jim. And I'm to be there to see, Bill--ain't I?
Bill. If you're good, Jim, an' don't forget yer prayers.
Jack. My eye! it's as good as a penny gaff! Go it, Bill.
Bill. Then I up an' addresses 'em: "My Lords an' Gen'lemen, 'cos as how ye're all good boys, an' goes to church, an' don't eat too many wittles, an' don't take off your bracelets when you goes to bed, you shall obswerve me eat."
Jim. Go it, Bill! I likes you, Bill.
Bill. No, Jim; I must close. The imagination is a 'ungry gift, as the cock said when he bolted the pebbles. Let's sojourn the meetin'.
Jack. Yes; come along. 'Tain't a comfable corner this yere: the wind cuts round uncommon sharp. Them pies ain't good--leastways not to look at.
Bill. They ain't disgestible. But look ye here, Jack and Jim--hearkee, my kids. (Puts an arm round the neck of each, and whispers first to one and then to the other.)
Enter MATTIE and SUSAN.
Sus. Now, Mattie, we're close to the house, an' I don't want to be seen with you, for she's mad at me.
Mat. You must have made her mad, then, Sue.
Sus. She madded me first: what else when she wouldn't believe a word I said? She'd ha' sworn on the gospel book, we sent the parcel up the spout. But she'll believe you, an' give you something, and then we'll have a chop!
Mat. How can you expect that, Sue, when the work's lost?
Sus. Never mind; you go and see.
Mat. I shan't take it, Susan. I couldn't.
Sus. Stuff and nonsense! I'll wait you round the corner: I don't like the smell o' them pastry things.
Exit. MATTIE walks past the window.
Mat. I don't like going. It makes me feel a thief to be suspected.
Bill. Lor! it's our Mattie! There's our Mattie!--Mattie! Mattie!
Mat. Ah, Bill! you're there--are you?
Bill. Yes, Mattie. It's a tart-show. You walks up and takes yer chice;--leastways, you makes it: somebody else takes it.
Mat. Wouldn't you like to take your choice sometimes, Bill?
Bill. In course I would.
Mat. Then why don't you work, and better yourself a bit?
Bill. Bless you, Mattie! myself is werry comf'able. He never complains.
Mat. You're hungry sometimes,--ain't you?
Bill. Most remarkable 'ungry, Mattie--this werry moment. Odd you should ask now--ain't it?
Mat. You would get plenty to eat if you would work.
Bill. Thank you--I'd rayther not. Them as ain't 'ungry never enj'ys their damaged tarts. If I'm 'appy, vere's the odds? as the cat said to the mouse as wanted to be let off the engagement. Why should I work more'n any other gen'leman?
Mat. A gentleman that don't work is a curse to his neighbours, Bill.
Bill. Bless you, Mattie! I ain't a curse--nohow to nobody. I don't see as you've got any call to say that, Mattie. I don't go fakin' clies, or crackin' cribs--nothin' o' the sort. An' I don't mind doin' of a odd job, if it is a odd one. Don't go for to say that again, Mattie.
Mat. I won't, then, Bill. But just look at yourself!--You're all in rags.
Bill. Rags is the hairier, as the Skye terrier said to the black-an'-tan.--I shouldn't object to a new pair of old trousers, though.
Mat. Why don't you have a pair of real new ones? If you would only sweep a crossing--
Bill. There ain't, a crossin' but what's took. Besides, my legs ain't put together for one place all day long. It ain't to be done, Mattie. They can't do it.
Mat. There's the shoe-black business, then.
Bill. That ain't so bad, acause you can shoulder your box and trudge. But if it's all the same to you, Mattie, I'd rayther enj'y life: they say it's short.
Mat. But it ain't the same to me. It's so bad for you to be idle, Bill!
Bill. Not as I knows on. I'm tollable jolly, so long's I gets the browns for my bed.
Mat. Wouldn't you like a bed with a blanket to it?
Bill. Well, yes--if it was guv to me. But I don't go in for knocking of yourself about, to sleep warm.
Mat. Well, look here, Bill. It's all Susan and I can do to pay for our room, and get a bit of bread and a cup of tea. It ain't enough.--If you were to earn a few pence now--
Bill. Oh golly! I never thought o' that. What a hass I wur, to be sure! I'll go a shoe-blackin' to-morror--I will.
Mat. Did you ever black a shoe, Bill?
Bill. I tried a boot oncet--when Jim wor a blackin' for a day or two. But I made nothink on it--nothink worth mentionin'. The blackin' or som'at was wrong. The gen'leman said it wur coal-dust, an he'd slog me, an' adwised me to go an' learn my trade.
Mat. And what did you say to that?
Bill. Holler'd out "Shine yer boots!" as loud as I could holler.
Mat. You must try my boots next time you come.
Bill. This wery night, Mattie. I'll make 'em shine like plate glass--see then if I don't. But where'll I get a box and brushes?
Mat. You shall have our brushes and my footstool.
Bill. I see! Turn the stool upside down, put the brushes in, and carry it by one leg--as drunken Moll does her kid.--Here you are, sir! Black your boots, sir?--Shine your trotters, sir? (bawling.)
Mat. That'll do; that'll do, Bill! Famous! You needn't do it again (holding her ears). Would you like a tart?
Bill. Just wouldn't I, then!--Shine your boooooots!
Mat. (laughing). Do hold your tongue, Bill. There's a penny for a tart.
Bill. Thank you, Mattie. Thank you.
Exit into the shop.
Jack and Jim (_touching their supposed caps). Please, ma'am! Please, ma'am! I likes 'em too. I likes 'em more 'n Bill.
Mat. I'm very sorry, but--(feeling in her pocket) I've got a ha'penny, I believe. No--there's a penny! You must share it, you know. (Gives it to Jack. Knocks at Mrs. Clifford's door.)
Jack and Jim. Thank you, ma'am. Thank you, ma'am.
Exit MATTIE into MRS. CLIFFORD'S.
Jim. Now, Jack, what's it to be?
Jack. I believe I shall spend it in St. Martin's Lane.
Jim. A ha'p'orth on it's mine, you know, Jack.
Jack. Well, you do put the stunners on me!
Jim. She said we wos to divide it--she did.
Jack. 'Taint possible. It beats my ivories. (He pretends to bite it. JIM flies at him in a rage.)
Re-enter BILL, with his mouth full.
Bill. Now what are you two a squabblin' over? Oh! Jack's got a yennep, and Jim's iookin' shirty.
Jim. She told him to divide it, and he won't.
Bill. Who told him?
Bill. You dare, Jack? Hand over.
Jack. Be hanged if I do.
Bill. Then do and be hanged. (A struggle.) There, Jim! Now you go and buy what you like.
Jim. Am I to give Jack the half?
Bill. Yes, if our Mattie said it.
Jim. All right, Bill. (Goes into the shop.)
Jack. I owe you one for that, Bill.
Bill. Owe it me then, Jack. I do like fair play--always did (eating).
Jack. You ain't a sharin' of your yennep, Bill.
Bill. Mattie didn't say I was to. She knowed one wouldn't break up into three nohow. 'Tain't in natur', Jack.
Jack. You might ha' guv me a bite, anyhow, Bill.
Bill. It ain't desirable, Jack--size o' trap dooly considered. Here comes your share.
Re-enter JIM. Gives a bun to JACK.
Jim. I tell you what, Bill--she ain't your Mattie. She ain't nobody's Mattie; she's a hangel.
Bill. No, Jim, she ain't a hangel; she 'ain't got no wings, leastways outside her clo'es, and she 'ain't got clo'es enough to hide 'em. I wish I wos a hangel!
Jack. At it again, Bill! I do like to hear Bill a wishin' of hisself! Why, Bill?
Bill. Acause they're never 'ungry.
Jack. How do you know they ain't?
Bill. You never sees 'em loafin' about nowheres.
Jim. Is Mattie your sister, Bill?
Bill. No, Jim; I ain't good 'nough to have a sister like she.
Jack. Your sweetheart, Bill? Ha! ha! ha!
Bill. Dry up, Jack.
Jim. Tell me about her, Bill. I didn't jaw you.
Bill. She lives in our court, Jim. Makes shirts and things.
Jack. Oh! ho!
BILL hits JACK. JACK doubles himself up.
Bill. Jim, our Mattie ain't like other gals; I never see her out afore this blessed day--upon my word and honour, Jim, never!
Jack. (wiping his nose with his sleeve). You don't know a joke from a jemmy, Bill.
Bill. I'll joke you!--A hangel tips you a tart, and you plucks her feathers! Get on t'other side of the way, you little dirty devil, or I'll give you another smeller--cheap too. Off with you!
Jack. No, Bill; no, please. I'm wery sorry. I ain't so bad's all that conies to.
Bill. If you wants to go with Jim and me, then behave like a gen'leman.
Jim. I calls our Mattie a brick!
Bill. None o' your jaw, Jim! She ain't your Mattie.
Tho. Childer, dun yo know th' way to Paradise--Row, or Road, or summat?
Bill. Dunnow, sir. You axes at the Sunday-school.
Tho. Wheer's th' Sunday-school, chylt?
Bill. Second door round the corner, sir.
Tho. Second dur reawnd th' corner! Which corner, my man?
Bill. Round any corner. Second door's all-ways Sunday-school. (Takes a sight. Exeunt boys.)
THOMAS sits down on a door-step.
Tho. Eh, but aw be main weary! Surely th' Lord dunnot be a forsakin' ov mo. There's that abeawt th' lost ship. Oop yon, wheer th' angels keep greight flocks ov 'em, they dunnot like to lose one ov 'em, an' they met well be helpin' ov mo to look for mo lost lamb i' this awful plaze! What has th' shepherd o' th' sheep himsel' to do, God bless him! but go look for th' lost ones and carry 'em whoam! O Lord! gie mo mo Mattie. Aw'm a silly ship mosel, a sarchin' for mo lost lamb. (Boys begin to gather and stare.) She's o' the world to me. O Lord, hear mo, and gie mo mo Mattie. Nea, aw'll geet oop, and go look again. (Rises.)
First Boy. Ain't he a cricket, Tommy?
Second Boy. Spry, ain't he? Prod him, and see him jump. (General insult.)
Tho. Why, childer, what have aw done, that yo cry after mo like a thief?
First Boy. Daddy Longlegs! Daddy Longlegs!
They hustle and crowd him. Re-enter BILL. THOMAS makes a rush. They run. He seizes BILL. They gather again.
Tho. Han yo getten a mother, lad?
Bill. No, thank ye. 'Ain't got no mother. Come of a haunt, I do.
First Boy. Game!--ain't he?
Tho. Well, aw'll tak yo whoam to yor aunt--aw wull.
Bill. Will you now, old chap? Wery well. (Squats.)
Tho. (holding him up by the collar, and shaking his stick over him). Tell mo wheer's por aunt, or aw'll breyk every bone i' yor body.
Bill (wriggling and howling and rubbing his eyes with alternate sleeves). Let me go, I say. Let me go and I'll tell ye. I will indeed, sir.
Tho. (letting go) Wheer then, mo lad?
Bill (starting up). I' the church-cellar, sir--first bin over the left--feeds musty, and smells strong. Ho! ho! ho! (Takes a sight.)
THOMAS makes a dart. BILL dodges him.
First Boy. Ain't he a cricket now, Tommy?
Second Boy. Got one leg too many for a cricket, Sam.
Third Boy. That's what he jerks hisself with, Tommy.
Tho. Boys, I want to be freens wi' yo. Here's a penny.
One of the boys knocks it out of his hand. A scramble.
Tho. Now, boys, dun yo know wheer's a young woman bi th' name ov Mattie--somewheer abeawt Paradise Row?
First Boy. Yes, old un.
Second Boy. Lots on 'em.
Third Boy. Which on em' do you want, Mr. Cricket?
Fourth Boy. You ain't peticlar, I s'pose, old corner-bones?
First Boy. Don't you fret, old stilts. We'll find you a Mattie. There's plenty on 'em--all nice gals.
Tho. I want mo own Mattie.
First Boy. Why, you'd never tell one from t'other on 'em!
Third Boy. All on 'em wery glad to see old Daddy Longlegs!
Tho. Oh dear! Oh dear! What an awful plaze this Lon'on do be! To see the childer so bad!
Second Boy. Don't cry, gran'pa. _She'_d chaff you worser 'n us! We're only poor little innocent boys. We don't know nothink, bless you! Oh no!
First Boy. You'd better let her alone, arter all, bag o' nails.
Second Boy. She'll have it out on you now, for woppin' of her when she wor a kid.
First Boy. She's a wopper herself now.
Third Boy. Mighty fine, with your shirt for a great-coat. He! he! he!
Fourth Boy. Mattie never kicks us poor innocent boys--cos we 'ain't got no mothers to take our parts. Boo hoo!
Enter JACK--his hands in his pockets.
Jack. What's the row, Bill?
Bill. Dunnow, Jack. Old chap collared me when I wasn't alludin' to him. He's after some Mattie or other. It can't be our Mattie. She wouldn't never have such a blazin' old parient as that.
Jack. Supposin' it was your Mattie, Bill, would you split, and let Scull-and-cross-bones nab her?
Bill. Would I? Would I 'and over our Mattie to her natural enemy? Did you ax it, Jack?
Jack. Natural enemy! My eye, Bill! what words you fakes!
Bill. Ain't he her natural enemy, then? Ain't it yer father as bumps yer 'ed, an' cusses ye, an' lets ye see him eat? Afore he gets our Mattie, I'll bite!
Tho. Poor lad! poor lad! Dunnot say that! Her feyther's th' best freen' hoo's getten. Th' moor's th' pity, for it's not mich he can do for her. But he would dee for her--he would.
Boys (all together). Go along, Daddy-devil! Pick yer own bones, an' ha' done.
Bag o' nails!
Old Daddy Longlegs wouldn't say his prayers-- Take him by his left leg, and throw him downstairs.
Go along! Go to hell!
We'll skin you.
Melt ye down for taller, we will.
Only he 'ain't got none, the red herrin'!
They throw things at him. He sits down on the door-step, and covers his head with his arms. Enter COL. G. Boys run off.
Tho. Oh, mo Mattie! mo Mattie!
Col. G. Poor old fellow! Are you hurt?
Tho. Eh! yo be a followin' ov mo too!
Col. G. What are you doing here?
Tho. What am aw doin' yere! Thee knows well enough what aw're a doin' yere. It 're o' thy fau't, mon.
Col. G. Why, you've got a blow! Your head is cut! Poor old fellow!
Tho. Never yo mind mo yed.
Col. G. You must go home.
Tho. Goo whoam, says to! Aw goo no-wheers but to th' grave afoor aw've feawnd mo chylt.
Col. G. Come along with me; I will do all I can to find her. Perhaps I can help you after all.
Tho. Aw mak nea deawbt o' that, mon. And thae seems a gradely chap. Aw'm a'most spent. An' aw'm sick, sick! Dunnot let th' boys shove mo abeawt again.
Col. G. I will not. They shan't come near you. Take my arm. Poor old fellow! If you would but trust me! Hey! Cab there!
Enter SUSAN, peeping.
Sus. I wonder whatever's come to Mattie! It's long time she was out again.
Enter MATTIE, hurriedly.
Mat. Oh, Susan! Susan! (Falls.)
Sus. Mattie! Mattie! (Kneels beside her, and undoes her bonnet.)
Pol. What ails her? (Goes to lift her.)
Sus. Leave her alone, will you? Let her head down. Get some water.
Pol. Drunk--is she?
Sus. Hold your tongue, you brute! If she'd a satin frock on, i'stead o' this here poor cotton gownd, you'd ha' showed her t'other side o' your manners! Get away with you. You're too ugly to look at.--Mattie! Mattie! Look up, child.
Pol. She mustn't lie there.
Pol. Come, my girl.
Sus. You keep off, I tell you! Don't touch her. She's none o' your sort. Come, Mattie, dear.--Why don't you make 'em move on?
Pol. You'd better keep a civil tongue in your head, young woman.
Sus. You live lobster!
Pol. I'll have to lock you up, I see. One violent. T'other incapable.
Sus. You're another. Mattie, my dear, come along home.
Pol. That's right; be off with you.
Mat. Let's go. Sue! Let's get farther off.
Sus. You can't walk, child. If I hadn't been so short o' wittles for a week, I could ha' carried you. But it's only a step to the cook-shop.
Mat. No money, Sue. (Tries to walk.)
Sus. O Lord! What shall I do! And that blue-bottle there a buzzin' an' a starin' at us like a dead codfish!--Boh!
Bill. Our Mattie! Gracious! what's the row, Susan?
Sus. She ain't well. Take her other arm, Bill, and help her out o' this. We ain't in no Christian country. Pluck up, Mattie, dear.
Bill. Come into the tart-shop. I'm a customer.
They go towards the shop. Exit POLICEMAN.
Mat. No, no, Sukey! I can't abide the smell of it. Let me sit on the kerb for a minute. (Sits down.) Oh, father! father!
Bill. Never you mind, Mattie! If he wor twenty fathers, he shan't come near ye.
Mat. Oh, Bill! if you could find him for me! He would take me home.
Bill. Now who'd ha' thought o' that? Axially wantin' her own father! I'd run far enough out o' the way o' mine--an' farther if he wur a-axin' arter me.
Mat. Oh me! my side!
Sus. It's hunger, poor dear! (Sits down beside her.)
Bill (aside). This won't do, Bill! I'm a shamed o' you, Bill! Exit.
Mat. No, Susan, it's not hunger. It's the old story, Sue.
Sus. Mattie! I never! You don't mean to go for to tell me you're a breakin' of your precious heart about him? It's not your gentleman sure_ly_! It's not him ye're turnin' sick about, this time o' day?
MATTIE nods her head listlessly.
Sus. What's up fresh, then? You was pretty bobbish when you left me. It's little he thinks of you, I'll be bound.
Mat. That's true enough. It's little he ever thought of me. He did say he loved me, though. It's fifty times he did!
Sus. Lies, lies, Mattie--all lies!
Mat. No, Susan; it wasn't lies. He meant it--at the time. That's what made it look all right. Oh dear! Oh dear!
Sus. But what's come to you now, Mattie? What's fresh in it? You're not turned like this all at once for nothink!
Mat. I've seen him!
Sus. Seen him! Oh, my! I wish it had been me. I'd ha' seen him! I'd ha' torn his ugly eyes out.
Mat. They ain't ugly eyes. They're big and blue, and they sparkle so when he talks to her!
Sus. And who's her? Ye didn't mention a her. Some brazen-faced imperence!
Mat. No. The young lady at Mrs. Clifford's.
Sus. Oho! See if I do a stitch for her!--Shan't I leave a needle in her shimmy, just!
Mat. What shall I do! All the good's gone out of me! And such a pain here!
Sus. Keep in yer breath a minute, an' push yer ribs out. It's one on 'em's got a top o' the other.
Mat. Such a grand creature! And her colour coming and going like the shadows on the corn! It's no wonder he forgot poor me. But it'll burn itself out afore long.
Sus. Don't ye talk like that, Mattie; I can't abear it.
Mat. If I was dressed like her, though, and could get my colour back! But laws! I'm such a washed out piece o' goods beside her!
Sus. That's as I say, Matilda! It's the dress makes the differ.
Mat. No, Susan, it ain't. It's the free look of them--and the head up--and the white hands--and the taper fingers. They're stronger than us, and they're that trained like, that all their body goes in one, like the music at a concert. I couldn't pick up a needle without going down on my knees after it. It's the pain in my side, Sue.--Yes, it's a fine thing to be born a lady. It's not the clothes, Sue. If we was dressed ever so, we couldn't come near them. It's that look,--I don't know what.
Sus. Speak for yerself, Mattie; I'm not a goin' to think such small beer of my_self, _I can tell you! I believe if I'd been took in time--
Mat. It's a big if that though, Sue.--And then she looked so good! You'd hardly think it of me,--perhaps it's because I'm dying-- but for one minute I could ha' kissed her very shoes. Oh, my side!
Sus. (putting her arm tight round her waist). Does that help it Mattie, dear?--a little teeny bit?
Mat. Yes, Sukey. It holds it together a bit. Will he break her heart too, I wonder?
Sus. No fear o' that! Ladies takes care o' theirselves. They're brought up to it.
Mat. It's only poor girls gentlemen don't mind hurting, I suppose.
Sus. It's the ladies' fathers and brothers, Mattie! We've got nobody to look after us.
Mat. They may break their hearts, though, for all that.
Sus. They won't forgive them like you, then, Mattie!
Mat. I dare say they're much the same as we are when it comes to that, Sue.
Sus. Don't say me, Mattie. I wouldn't forgive him--no, not if I was to die for it. But what came of it, child?
Mat. I made some noise, I suppose, and the lady started.
Sus. And then you up and spoke?
Mat. I turned sick, and fell down.
Sus. Poor dear!
Mat. She got me a glass of wine, but I couldn't swallow it, and got up and crawled out.
Sus. Did he see you?
Mat. I think he did.
Sus. You'll tell her, in course?
Mat. No, Sue; he'd hate me, and I couldn't bear that. Oh me! my side! It's so bad!
Sus. Let's try for home, Mattie. It's a long way, and there's nothing to eat when you're there; but you can lie down, and that's everything to them as can't sit up.
Mat. (rising). I keep fancying I'm going to meet my father.
Sus. Let's fancy it then every turn all the way home, an' that'll get us along. There, take my arm. There!--Come along. Exeunt.
Slow music. Twilight.
Enter BILL with a three-legged stool, brushes, etc.
Bill. Come! it's blackin' all over! When gents can't no longer see their boots, 'tain't much use offerin' to shine 'em. But if I can get a penny, I will. I must take a tart to Mattie, or this here damaged one (laying his hand on his stomach) won't go to sleep this night.
Bill. Black your boots for a party, sir?
Wat. (aside) The very rascal I saw her speaking to! But wasn't she a brick not to split! That's what I call devotion now! There are some of them capable of it. I'll set her up for life. I'd give a cool thousand it hadn't happened, though. I saw her father too hanging about Gervaise's yesterday.
Bill. Clean your boots, sir? Shine 'em till they grin like a Cheshire cat eatin' cheese!
Wat. Shine away, you beggar.
Bill (turning up his trousers). I ain't no beggar, sir. Shine for a shiner's fair play.
Wat. Do you live in this neighbourhood?
Bill. No, sir.
Wat. Where, then?
Bill (feeling where a pocket should be). I don't appear to 'ave a card about me, sir, but my address is Lamb's Court, Camomile Street--leastways I do my sleepin' not far off of it. I've lived there, what livin' I have done, sin' ever I wor anywheres as I knows on.
Wat. Do you happen to know a girl of the name of Pearson?
Bill. No, sir. I can't say as how I rec'lect the name. Is she a old girl or a young un?
Wat. You young liar! I saw you talking to her not two hours ago!
Bill. Did ye now, sir? That's odd, ain't it? Bless you! I talks to everybody. I ain't proud, sir.
Wat. Well, do you see this? (holding up a sovereign).
Bill. That's one o' them tilings what don't require much seein', sir. There! Bright as a butterfly! T'other twin, sir!
Wat. I'll give you this, if you'll do something for me--and another to that when the thing's done.
Bill. 'Tain't stealin', sir?
Bill. Cos, you see, Mattie--
Wat. Who did you say?
Bill. Old Madge as lets the beds at tuppence a short night. 'Tain't stealin', you say, sir?
Wat. What do you take me for? I want you to find out for me where the girl Pearson lives--that's all.
Bill (snatching the sovereign and putting it in his mouth). Now then, sir!--What's the young woman like?
Wat. Rather tall--thin--dark hair--large dark eyes--and long white
hands. Her name's Matilda--Mattie Pearson--the girl you were talking
to, I tell you, on this very spot an hour or two ago.
Bill (dropping the sovereign, and stooping to find it). Golly! it is our Mattie!
Wat. Shall you know her again?
Bill. Any boy as wasn't a hass would know his own grandmother by them spots. Besides, I remember sich a gal addressin' of me this mornin'. If you say her it was, I'll detect her for ye.
Wat. There's a good boy! What's your name?
Bill. Timothy, sir.
Wat. What else?
Bill. Never had no other--leastways as I knows on.
Wat. Well, Timothy--there's the other sov.--and it's yours the moment you take me to her. Look at it.
Bill. My eye!--Is she a square Moll, sir?
Wat. What do you mean by that?
Bill. Green you are, to be sure!--She ain't one as steals, or--
Wat. Not she. She's a sempstress--a needlewoman, or something of the sort.
Bill. And where shall I find you, sir?
Wat. Let me see:--to-morrow night--on the steps of St. Martin's Church--ten o'clock.
Bill. But if I don't find her? It may be a week--or a month--or--
Wat. Come whether you find her or not, and let me know.
Bill. All serene, sir! There you are, sir! Brush your trousers, sir?
Wat. No; leave 'em.--Don't forget now.
Bill. Honour bright, sir! Not if I knows it, sir!
Wat. There's that other skid, you know.
Bill. All right, sir! Anything more, sir?
Wat. Damn your impudence! Get along.
Exit. BILL watches him into MRS. CLIFFORD'S.
Bill. Now by all the 'ungry gums of Arabiar, 'ere's a swell arter our Mattie!--A right rig'lar swell! I knows 'em--soverings an' red socks. What's come to our Mattie? 'Ere's Daddy Longlegs arter her, vith his penny and his blessin'! an' 'ere's this 'ere mighty swell vith his soverings--an' his red socks! An' she's 'ungry, poor gal!--This 'ere yellow-boy?--I 'ain't got no faith in swells--no more 'n in Daddy Longlegses--I 'ain't!--S'posin' he wants to marry her?--Not if I knows it. He ain't half good 'nough for her. Too many quids--goin' a flingin' on 'em about like buttons! He's been a crackin' o' cribs--he has. I ain't a goin' to interduce our Mattie to no sich blokes as him. No fathers or lovyers for me--says I!--But this here pebble o' Paradise!--What's to be done wi' the cherub? I can't tell her a lie about it, an' who'll break it up for a cove like me, lookin' jes' as if I'd been an' tarred myself and crep' through a rag-bag! They'd jug me. An' what 'ud Mattie say then? I wish I 'adn't 'a' touched it. I'm blowed if I don't toss it over a bridge!--Then the gent 'ain't got the weight on his dunop out o' me. O Lord! what shall I do with it? I wish I'd skied it in his face! I don't believe it's a good un; I don't! (Bites it.) It do taste wery nasty. It's nothin' better 'n a gilt fardin'! Jes' what a cove might look for from sich a swell! (Goes to a street lamp and examines it.) Lor! there's a bobby! (Exit. Re-enter to the lamp.) I wish the gen'leman 'ad guv me a penny. I can't do nothin' wi' this 'ere quid. Vere am I to put it? I 'ain't got no pocket, an' if I was to stow it in my 'tato-trap, I couldn't wag my red rag--an' Mother Madge 'ud soon have me by the chops. Nor I've got noveres to plant it.--O Lor! it's all I've got, an' Madge lets nobody go to bed without the tuppence. It's all up with Bill--for the night!--Where's the odds!--there's a first-class hotel by the river--The Adelphi Arches, they calls it--where they'll take me in fast enough, and I can go to sleep with it in my cheek. Coves is past talkin' to you there. Nobody as sees me in that 'ere 'aunt of luxury, 'ill take me for a millionaire vith a skid in his mouth. 'Tain't a bit cold to-night neither (going).--Vy do they say a aunt of luxury? I s'pose acause she's wife to my uncle. Exit.
Slow music. The night passes. A policeman crosses twice. THOMAS crosses between. Dawn.
Bill. I'm hanged if this here blasted quid ain't a burnin' of me like a red-hot fardin'! I'm blest if I've slep' more 'n half the night. I woke up oncet, with it a slippin' down red lane. I wish I had swallered it. Then nobody 'd 'a' ast me vere I got it. I don't wonder as rich coves turn out sich a bad lot. I believe the devil's in this 'ere!
Knocks at MRS. CLIFFORD'S door. JAMES opens. Is shutting it again. BILL shoves in his stool.
Bill. Hillo, Blazes! where's your manners? Is that the way you behaves to callers on your gov'nor's business?
James (half opening the door). Get about your own business, you imperent boy!
Bill. I'm about it now, young man. I wants to see your gov'nor.
James. You've got business with him, have you, eh?
Bill. Amazin' precoxity! You've hit it! I have got business with him, Door-post--not in the wery smallest with you, Door-post!--essep' the knife-boy's been and neglected of your feet-bags this mornin'. (JAMES would slam the door. BILL shoves in his stool.) Don't you try that 'ere little game again, young man! for if I loses my temper and takes to hollerin', you'll wish yourself farther.
James. A humbug you are! I 'ain't got no gov'nor, boy. The master as belongs to me is a mis'ess.
Bill. Then that 'ere gen'lemen as comes an' goes, ain't your master--eh?
James. What gen'leman, stoopid?
Bill. Oh! it don't matter.
James. What have--you--got to say to him?
Bill. Some'at pickled: it'll keep.
James. I'll give him a message, if you like.
Bill. Well, you may tell him the bargain's hoff, and if he wants his money, it's a waitin' of him round the corner.
James. You little blackguard! Do you suppose a gen'leman's a goin' to deliver sich a message as that! Be off, you himp! (Makes a dart at him.)
Bill (dodging him). How d'e do, Clumsy? Don't touch me; I ain't nice. Why, what was you made for, Parrot? Is them calves your own rearin' now? Is that a quid or a fardin? Have a shot, now, Shins.
James. None o' your imperence, young blackie! 'And me over the money, and I'll give it to the gen'leman.
Bill. Do you see anything peticlar green in my eye, Rainbow?
JAMES makes a rush. BILL gets down before him. JAMES tumbles over him. BILL blacks his face with his brush.
Bill (running a little way). Ha! ha! ha! Bill Shoeblack--his mark! Who's blackie now? You owes me a penny--twopence--'twor sich a ugly job! Ain't shiny? I'll come back and shine ye for another penny. Good mornin', Jim Crow! Take my adwice, and don't on no account apply your winegar afore you've opened your hoyster. Likeways: Butter don't melt on a cold tater. Exit.
Exit JAMES into the house, banging the door.
Enter WATERFIELD, _followed by BILL.
Bill. Please, sir, I been a watchin' for you.
Wat. Go to the devil!
Bill. I'd rayther not. So there's your suv'ring!
Wat. Go along. Meet me where I told you.
Bill. I won't. There's yer skid.
Wat. Be off, or I'll give you in charge. Hey! Policeman! Exit.
Bill. Well, I'm blowed! This quid '11 be the hangin' o' me! Damn you! (Throws it fiercely on the ground and stamps on it.) Serves me right for chaffin' the old un! He didn't look a bad sort--for a gov'nor.--Now I reflexes, I heerd Mattie spoony on some father or other, afore. O Lord! I'll get Jim and Jack to help me look out for him. (Enter THOMAS.) Lor' ha' mussy!--talk o' the old un!--I'm wery peticlar glad as I found you, daddy. I been a lookin' for ye--leastways I was a goin' to look for ye this wery moment as you turns up. I chaffed you like a zorologicle monkey yesterday, daddy, an' I'm wery sorry. But you see fathers ain't nice i' this 'ere part o' the continent. (Enter JAMES, in plain clothes, watching them.) They ain't no good nohow to nobody. If I wos a husband and a father, I don't know as how I should be A One, myself. P'r'aps I might think it wur my turn to break arms and legs. I knowed more 'n one father as did. It's no wonder the boys is a plaguy lot, daddy.
Tho. Goo away, boy. Dosto yer, aw've seen so mich wickedness sin' aw coom to Lon'on. that aw dunnot knaw whether to breighk thi yed, or to goo wi' tho? There be thieves and there be robbers.
Bill. Never fear, daddy. You ain't worth robbin' of, I don't think.
Tho. How dosto knaw that? Aw've moore 'n I want to lose abeawt mo.
Bill. Then Mattie 'ill have som'at to eat--will she, daddy?
Tho. Som'at to eight, boy! Be mo Mattie hungry--dun yo think?
Bill. Many and many's the time, daddy.
Tho. Yigh--afore her dinner!
Bill. And after it too, daddy.
Tho. O Lord!--And what does hoo do when hoo 's hungry?
Bill. Grins and bears it. Come and see her, daddy?
Tho. O Lord! Mo Mattie, an' nothin' to eight! Goo on, boy. Aw'm beawn to follow yo. Tak mo wheer yo like. Aw'll goo.
Bill. Come along then, daddy.
James (collaring him). Hullo, young un! You're the rascal as stole the suvering: I saw you!
Bill. Dunno what you're up to. I never stole nothink.
James. Oh no! of course not! What's that in yer fist now? (Catches BILL'S hand, and forces it open.) There!
BILL drops his stool on JAMES'S foot, throws up the coin, catches it with his other hand, and puts it in his mouth.
Tho. Theighur! Theighur! The like ov that! Aw're agooin wi' a thief--aw wur!
Bill. Never you mind, daddy. It wur guv to me.
James. That's what they allus says, sir.--You come along.--I'd be obliged to you, sir, if you would come too, and say you saw him.
Tho. Nay! aw connot say aw seigh him steyle it.
James. You saw it in his hand.
Tho. Yigh! aw did.
Bill. It wis guv to me, I tell ye.
James. Honest boy, this one! Looks like it, don't he, sir? What do you think of yourself, you young devil, a decoying of a grey-haired old gen'leman like this? Why, sir, him an' his pals 'ud ha' taken every penny you had about you! Murdered you, they might--I've knowed as much. It's a good thing I 'appened on the spot.--Come along, you bad boy!
Bill. I didn't, take it. And I won't go.
James. Come along. They'll change it for you at the lock-up.
Bill. You didn't see me steal it! You ain't never a goin' to gi' me in charge?
James. Wrong again, young un! That's? percisely what I am a goin' to do!
Bill. Oh, sir! please, sir! I'm a honest boy. It's the Bible-truth. I'll kiss twenty books on it.
James. I won't ax you.--Why, sir, he ain't even one o' the shoe-brigade. He 'ain't got a red coat. Bless my soul! he 'ain't even got a box--nothin' but a scrubby pair o' brushes as I'm alive! He ain't no shoeblack. He's a thief as purtends to black shoes, and picks pockets.
Bill. You're a liar! I never picked a pocket, in my life.
James. Bad language, you see! What more would you have?
Tho. Who'd iver lia' thowt o' sich wickedness in a boy like that!
Bill. I ain't a wicked boy, no. Nay, doan't thae tell mo that! Thae made gam of mo, and hurried and scurried mo, as iv aw'd been a mak ov a deevil--yo did.
James. He's one of the worst boys I know. This Timothy is one of the very worst boys in all London.
Bill (aside). Timothy, eh? I twigs! It's Rainbow, by Peter and Paul!--Look y'e here, old gen'leman! This 'ere's a bad cove as is takin' adwantage o' your woolliness. I knows him. His master guv me the suvering. He guv it to me to tell him where your Mattie was.
James. Don't you fancy you're g' in' to take in an experienced old gen'leman like that with your cock-and-bull stories! Come along, I say. Hey! Police!
Bill. Here you are! (Takes the coin from his mouth, rubs it dry on his jacket, and offers it.) I don't want it. Give it to old Hunx there.--He shan't never see his Mattie! I wur right to chivy him, arter all.
James (taking the coin). Now look here, Timothy. I'm a detective hofficer. But I won't never be hard on no buy as wants to make a honest livin'. So you be hoff! I'll show the old gen'leman where he wants to go to.
BILL moves two paces, and takes a sight at him.
Tho. The Lord be praised! Dosto know eawr Mattie then?
James. It's the dooty of a detective hofficer to know every girl in his beat.
Bill. My eye! there's a oner!
Tho. Tak mo to her, sir, an' aw'll pray for yo.
James. I will.--If I cotch you nearer than Mile End, I'll give you in charge at oncet.
Bill (bolting five yards). He's a humbug, daddy! but he'll serve you right. He'll melt you down for taller. He ain't no 'tective. I know him.
Tho. Goo away.
Bill. Good-bye, daddy! He don't know your Mattie. Good-bye, skelington! Exit.
Tho. Eh! sech a boy!
James. Let me see. You want a girl of the name of Mattie?
Tho. Aw do, sir.
James. The name is not an oncommon one. There's Mattie Kent?
Tho. Nay; it's noan o' her.
James. Then there's Mattie Winchfield?
Tho. Nay; it's noan o' her.
James. Then there's Mattie Pearson?
Tho. Yigh, that's hoo! That's hoo! Wheer? Wheer?
James. Well, it's too far for a man of your age to walk. But I'll call a cab, and we'll go comfortable.
Tho. But aw connot affoord to peigh for a cab--as yo co it.
James. You don't suppose I'm a goin' to put an honest man like you to expense!
Tho. It's but raysonable I should peigh. But thae knows best.
James. Hey! Cab there! Exeunt.
Re-enter BILL, following them.
Bill. I'll have an eye of him, though. The swell as give me the yellow-boy--he's his master! Poor old codger! He'll believe any cove but the one as tells him the truth!
Enter from the house MRS. CLIFFORD. Enter from opposite side COL. G.
Col. G. I was just coming to see you, Clara.
Mrs. C. And I was going to see you. How's Arthur to-day? I thought you would have come yesterday.
Col. G. My poor boy is as dependent on me as if I were not his father. I am very anxious about him. The fever keeps returning.
Mrs. C. Fortune seems to have favoured your mad scheme, Walter.
Col. G. Or something better than fortune.
Mrs. C. You have had rare and ample opportunity. You may end the farce when you please, and in triumph.
Col. G. On the contrary, Clara, it would be nothing but an anticlimax to end what you are pleased to call the farce now. As if I could make a merit of nursing my own boy! I did more for my black servant. I wish I had him here.
Mrs. C. You would like to double the watch--would you?
Col. G. Something has vexed you, Clara.
Mrs. C. I never liked the scheme, and I like it less every day.
Col. G. I have had no chance yet. He has been ill all the time. I wish you would come and see him a little oftener.
Mrs. C. He doesn't want me. You are everything now. Besides, I can't come alone.
Col G. Why not?
Mrs. C. Constance would fancy I did not want to take her.
Col. G. Then why not take her?
Mrs. C. I have my reasons.
Col. G. What are they?
Mrs. C. Never mind.
Col. G. I insist upon knowing them.
Mrs. C. It would break my heart, Walter, to quarrel with you, but I will if you use such an expression.
Col. G. But why shouldn't you bring Miss Lacordere with you?
Mrs. C. He's but a boy, and it might put some nonsense in his head.
Col. G. She's a fine girl. You make a friend of her.
Mrs. C. She's a good girl, and a lady-like girl; but I don't want to meddle with the bulwarks of society. I hope to goodness they will last my time.
Col. G. Clara, I begin to doubt whether pride be a Christian virtue.
Mrs. C. I see! You'll be a radical before long. _Every_thing is going that way.
Col. G. I don't care what I am, so I do what's right. I'm sick of all that kind of thing. What I want is bare honesty. I believe I'm a tory as yet, but I should be a radical to-morrow if I thought justice lay on that side.--If a man falls in love with a woman, why shouldn't he marry her?
Mrs. C. She may be unfit for him.
Col. G. How should he fall in love with her, then? Men don't fall in love with birds.
Mrs. C. It's a risk--a great risk.
Col. G. None the greater that he pleases himself, and all the more worth taking. I wish my poor boy--
Mrs. C. Your poor boy might please himself and yet not succeed in pleasing you, brother!
Col. G. (aside). She knows something.--I must go and see about his dinner. Good-bye, sister.
Mrs. C. Good-bye, then. You will have your own way!
Col. G. This once, Clara. Exeunt severally.