A Child of the Jago, by Arthur Morrison


All this hard thinking would be over in half an hour or so. What was to come now didn’t matter; no more than a mere punch in the eye. The worst was over on Saturday, and he had got through that all right. Hannah was very bad, and so was Dicky. Em cried in a bewildered sort of way, because the others did. Little Josh, conceiving that his father was somehow causing all the tears, kicked and swore at him. He tried to get Hannah to smile at this, but it was no go; and they had to carry her out at last. Dicky was well-plucked though, bad as he was. He felt him shake and choke when he kissed him, but he walked out straight and steady, with the two children. Well, it was over. . . .

He hoped they would get up a break in the Jago for Hannah and the youngsters. His own break had never come off — they owed him one. The last break he was at was at Mother Gapp’s, before the Dove–Laners fell through the floor. It must have cost Mother Gapp a deal of money to put in the new floor; but then she must have made a lot in her time, what with one thing and another. There was the fencing, and the houses she had bought in Honey Lane, and the two fourpenny doss-houses in Hoxton that they said were hers, and — well, nobody could say what else. Some said she came of the gipsies that used to live at the Mount years ago. The Mount was a pretty thick place now, but not so thick as the Jago: the Jagos were thick as glue and wide as Broad Street. Bob the Bender fell in Broad Street, toy-getting, and got a stretch and a half. . . .

Yes, yes, of course, they always tolled a bell. But it was rather confusing, with things to think about.

Ah, they had come at last. Come, there was nothing more to think about now; nothing but to take it game. Hold tight — Jago hold tight. . . . ‘No thank you, sir — nothing to say, special. On’y much obliged to ye, thank ye kindly, for the grub an’— an’ bein’ kind an’ wot not. Thanks all of ye, come to that. Specially you, sir.’ It was the tall black figure again. . . .

What, this was the chap, was it? Seedy-looking. Sort of undertaker’s man to look at. All right — straps. Not cords to tie, then. Waist; wrists; elbows; more straps dangling below — do them presently. This was how they did it, then. . . . This way?

‘I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.’

A very big gate, this, all iron, painted white. Round to the right. Not very far, they told him. It was dark in the passage, but the door led into the yard, where it was light and open, and sparrows were twittering. Another door: in a shed.

This was the place. All white, everywhere — frame too; not black after all. Up the steps. . . . Hold tight: not much longer. Stand there? Very well.

‘Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery. He cometh up, and is cut down, like a flower: he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay.

‘In the midst of life. . . . ’


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:58