Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Classical Novels > A Child of the Jago37 > CHAPTER 2
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
 Three-quarters of a mile east of the Jago's outermost1 limit was the East End Elevation2 Mission and Pansophical Institute: such was the amazing success whereof, that a new wing had been built, and was now to be declared open by a Bishop3 of great eminence4 and industry.  
The triumphs of the East End Elevation Mission and Pansophical Institute were known and appreciated far from East London, by people who knew less of that part than of Asia Minor5. Indeed, they were chiefly appreciated by these. There were kept, perpetually on tap for the aspiring6 East Ender, the Higher Life, the Greater Thought, and the Wider Humanity: with other radiant abstractions, mostly in the comparative degree, specifics all for the manufacture of the Superior Person. There were many Lectures given on still more subjects. Pictures were borrowed and shown, with revelations to the Uninformed of the morals ingeniously concealed7 by the painters. The Uninformed were also encouraged to debate and to produce papers on literary and political matters, while still unencumbered with the smallest knowledge thereof: for the Enlargement of the Understanding and the Embellishment of the Intellect. And there were classes, and clubs, and newspapers, and games of draughts9, and musical evenings, and a brass10 band, whereby the life of the Hopeless Poor might be coloured, and the Misery11 of the Submerged alleviated12. The wretches13 who crowded to these benefits were tradesmen's sons, small shop-keepers and their families, and neat clerks, with here and there a smart young artisan of one of the especially respectable trades. They freely patronised the clubs, the musical evenings, the brass band, and the bagatelle14 board; and those who took themselves seriously debated and Mutually-Improved with pomp. Others, subject to savage15 fits of wanting-to-know, made short rushes at random16 evening classes, with intervals17 of disgusted apathy18. Altogether, a number of decently-dressed and mannerly young men passed many evenings at the Pansophical Institute in harmless pleasures, and often with an agreeable illusion of intellectual advance.
Other young men, more fortunately circumstanced, with the educational varnish19 fresh and raw upon them, came from afar, equipped with a foreign mode of thought and a proper ignorance of the world and the proportions of things, as Missionaries20. Not without some anxiety to their parents, they plunged21 into the perilous22 deeps of the East End, to struggle—for a fortnight—with its suffering and its brutishness. So they went among the tradesmen's sons and the shopmen, who endured them as they endured the nominal23 subscription24; and they came away with a certain relief, and with some misgiving25 as to what impression they had made, and what they had done to make it. But it was with knowledge and authority that they went back among those who had doubted their personal safety in the dark region. The East End, they reported, was nothing like what it was said to be. You could see much worse places up West. The people were quite a decent sort, in their way: shocking Bounders, of course; but quite clean and quiet, and very comfortably dressed, with ties and collars and watches.
But the Missionaries were few, and the subscribers to the Elevation Mission were many. Most had been convinced, by what they had been told, by what they had read in charity appeals, and perhaps by what they had seen in police-court and inquest reports, that the whole East End was a wilderness26 of slums: slums packed with starving human organisms without minds and without morals, preying27 on each other alive. These subscribers visited the Institute by twos and threes, on occasions of particular festivity among the neat clerks, and were astonished at the wonderful effects of Pansophic Elevation on the degraded classes, their aspect and their habits. Perhaps it was a concert where nobody was drunk: perhaps a little dance where nobody howled a chorus, nor wore his hat, nor punched his partner in the eye. It was a great marvel28, whereunto the observers testified: so that more subscriptions29 came, and the new wing was built.
The afternoon was bright, and all was promising30. A small crowd of idlers hung about the main door of the Institute, and stared at a string of flags. Away to the left stood the new wing, a face of fair, clean brick; the ornamentation, of approved earnestness, in terra-cotta squares at regular intervals. Within sat many friends and relations of the shopmen and superior mechanics, and waited for the Bishop; the Eminences31 of the Elevation Mission sitting apart on the platform. Without, among the idlers, waited Dicky Perrott. His notions of what were going on were indistinct, but he had a belief, imbibed32 through rumour33 and tradition, that all celebrations at such large buildings were accompanied by the consumption, in the innermost recesses34, of cake and tea. Even to be near cake was something. In Shoreditch High Street was a shop where cake stood in the window in great slabs36, one slab35 over another, to an incalculable value. At this window—against it, as near as possible, his face flattened37 white—Dicky would stand till the shop-keeper drove him off: till he had but to shut his eyes to see once more, in the shifting black, the rich yellow sections with their myriad38 raisins39. Once a careless errand-boy, who had bought a slice, took so clumsy a bite as he emerged that near a third of the whole piece broke and fell; and this Dicky had snatched from the paving and bolted with, ere the owner quite saw his loss. This was a superior sort of cake, at a penny. But once he had managed to buy himself a slice of an inferior sort for a halfpenny, in Meakin Street.
Dicky Perrott, these blessed memories in his brain, stood unobtrusively near the door, with the big jacket buttoned over as decently as might be, full of a desperate design: which was to get inside by whatsoever40 manner of trick or opportunity he might, and so, if it were humanly possible, to the cake.
The tickets were being taken at the door by an ardent41 young Elevator—one of the missionaries. Him, and all such washed and well-dressed people, Dicky had learnt to hold in serene42 contempt when the business in hand was dodging43. There was no hurry: the Elevator might waste his vigilance on the ticket-holders for some time yet. And Dicky knew better than to betray the smallest sign of a desire for entrance while his enemy's attention was awake.
Carriages drew up, and yielded more Eminences: toward the end the Bishop himself, whom Dicky observed but as a pleasant-looking old gentleman in uncommon44 clothes; and on whom he bestowed45 no more thought than a passing wonder at what might be the accident to his hat which had necessitated46 its repair with string.
But at the spikes47 of the Bishop's carriage came another; and out of that there got three ladies, friends of the ticket-receiver, on whom they closed, greeting and shaking hands; and in a flash Dicky Perrott was beyond the lobby and moving obscurely along the walls of the inner hall, behind pillars and in shadow, seeking cake.
The Choral Society sang their lustiest, and there were speeches. Eminences expressed their surprise and delight at finding the people of the East End, gathered in the Institute building, so respectable and clean, thanks to persistent48, indefatigable49, unselfish Elevation.
The good Bishop, amid clapping of hands and fluttering of handkerchiefs, piped cherubically of everything. He rejoiced to see that day, whereon the helping50 hand of the West was so unmistakably made apparent in the East. He rejoiced also to find himself in the midst of so admirably typical an assemblage—so representative, if he might say so, of that great East End of London, thirsting and crying out for—for Elevation: for that—ah—Elevation which the more fortunately circumstanced denizens51 of—of other places, had so munificently—laid on. The people of the East End had been sadly misrepresented—in popular periodicals and in—in other ways. The East End, he was convinced, was not so black as it was painted. (Applause.) He had but to look about him. Etcetera, etcetera. He questioned whether so well-conducted, morally-given, and respectable a gathering52 could be brought together in any West End parish with which he was acquainted. It was his most pleasant duty on this occasion—and so on and so forth53.
Dicky Perrott had found the cake. It was in a much smaller room at the back of the hall, wherein it was expected that the Bishop and certain Eminences of the platform would refresh themselves with tea after the ceremony. There were heavy, drooping54 curtains at the door of this room, and deep from the largest folds the ratling from the Jago watched. The table was guarded by a sour-faced man—just such a man as drove him from the window of the cake shop in Shoreditch High Street. Nobody else was there yet, and plainly the sour-faced man must be absent or busy ere the cake could be got at.
There was a burst of applause in the hall: the new wing had been declared open. Then there was more singing, and after that much shuffling55 and tramping, for everybody was free to survey the new rooms on the way out; and the Importances from the platform came to find the tea.
Filling the room and standing8 about in little groups; chatting, munching56, and sipping57, while the sour-faced man distractedly floundered amid crockery: not a soul of them all perceived an inconsiderable small boy, ducking and dodging vaguely58 among legs and round skirts, making, from time to time, a silent snatch at a plate on the table: and presently he vanished altogether. Then the amiable59 Bishop, beaming over the tea-cup six inches from his chin, at two courtiers of the clergy60, bethought him of a dinner engagement, and passed his hand downward over the rotundity of his waistcoat.
'Dear, dear,' said the Bishop, glancing down suddenly, 'why—what's become of my watch?'
There hung three inches of black ribbon, with a cut end. The Bishop looked blankly at the Elevators about him.
Three streets off, Dicky Perrott, with his shut fist deep in his breeches pocket, and a gold watch in the fist, ran full drive for the Old Jago.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved