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HOME > Classical Novels > A Child of the Jago37 > CHAPTER 11
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 Josh Perrott reached home late for tea but in good humour. He had spent most of the day at the Bag of Nails, dancing attendance on the High Mobsmen. Those of the High Mob were the flourishing practitioners1 in burglary, the mag, the mace2, and the broads, with an outer fringe of such dippers—such pick-pockets—as could dress well, welshers, and snides-men. These, the grandees3 of rascality4, lived in places far from the Jago, and some drove in gigs and pony5 traps. But they found the Bag of Nails a convenient and secluded6 exchange and house of call, and there they met, made appointments, designed villainies, and tossed for sovereigns: deeply reverenced7 by the admiring Jagos, among whom no ambition flourished but this—to become also of these resplendent ones. It was of these that old Beveridge had spoken one day to Dicky, in language the child but half understood. The old man sat on a curb8 in view of the Bag of Nails, and smoked a blackened bit of clay pipe. He hauled Dicky to his side, and, pointing with his pipe, said:—'See that man with the furs?'  
'What?' Dicky replied. 'Mean 'im in the ice-cream coat, smokin' a cigar? Yus.'
'And the other with the brimmy tall hat, and the red face, and the umbrella?'
'What are they?'
''Igh mob. 'Ooks. Toffs.'
'Right. Now, Dicky Perrott, you Jago whelp, look at them—look hard. Some day, if you're clever—cleverer than anyone in the Jago now—if you're only scoundrel enough, and brazen9 enough, and lucky enough—one of a thousand—maybe you'll be like them: bursting with high living, drunk when you like, red and pimply10. There it is—that's your aim in life—there's your pattern. Learn to read and write, learn all you can, learn cunning, spare nobody and stop at nothing, and perhaps—' he waved his hand toward the Bag of Nails. 'It's the best the world has for you, for the Jago's got you, and that's the only way out, except gaol11 and the gallows12. So do your devilmost, or God help you, Dicky Perrott—though he wont13: for the Jago's got you!'
Old Beveridge had eccentric talk and manners, and the Jago regarded him as a trifle 'balmy,' though anything but a fool. So that Dicky troubled little to sift14 the meaning of what he said.
Josh Perrott's mission among the High Mob had been to discover some Mobsman who might be disposed to back him in the fight with Billy Leary. For though a private feud15 was the first cause of the turn-up, still business must never be neglected, and a feud or anything else that could produce money must be made to produce it, and when a fight of exceptional merit is placed before spectators, it is but fair that they should pay for their diversion.
But few High Mobsmen were at the Bag of Nails that day. Sunday was the day of the chief gatherings16 of the High Mob: Sunday the market-day, so to speak, of the Jago, when such rent as was due weekly was paid (most of the Jago rents were paid daily and nightly) and other accounts were settled or fought out. Moreover, the High Mob were perhaps a trifle shy of the Jago at the time of a faction17 fight; and one was but just over, and that cut short at a third of the usual span of days. So that Josh waited long and touted18 vainly, till a patron arrived who knew him of old; who had employed him, indeed, as 'minder'—which means a protector or a bully19, as you please to regard it—on a racecourse adventure involving bodily risk. On this occasion Josh had earned his wages with hard knocks given and taken, and his employer had conceived a high and thankful opinion of his capacity. Wherefore he listened now to the tale of the coming fight, and agreed to provide something in the way of stakes, and to put something on for Josh himself: looking for his own profit to the bets he might make at favourable20 odds21............
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