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HOME > Classical Novels > A Child of the Jago37 > CHAPTER 14
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 On an autumn day four years after his first coming to the Jago, the Reverend Henry Sturt left a solicitor's office in Cheapside, and walked eastward1, with something more of hope and triumph in him than he had felt since the Jago fell to his charge. For the ground was bought whereon should be built a church and buildings accessory, and he felt, not that he was like to see any great result from his struggle, but that perhaps he might pursue it better armed and with less of grim despair than had been his portion hitherto.  
It had taken him four years to gather the money for the site, and some of it he was paying from his own pocket. He was unmarried, and had therefore no reason to save. Still, he must be careful, for the sake of the parish: the church must be built, and some of the money would probably be wanted for that. Moreover, there were other calls. The benefice brought a trifle less than £200 a year, and out of that, so far as it would go, he paid (with some small outside help) £130 for rent of the temporary church and the adjacent rooms; the organist's salary; the rates and the gas-bills; the cost of cleaning, care, and repair; the sums needed for such relief as was impossible to be withheld2; and a thousand small things beside. While the Jagos speculated wildly among themselves as to the vast sums he must make by his job. For what toff would come and live in the Jago except for a consideration of solid gain? What other possible motive3 could there be, indeed?
Still, he had an influence among them such as they had never known before. For one thing, they feared in him what they took for a sort of supernatural insight. The mean cunning of the Jago, subtle as it was, and baffling to most strangers, foundered4 miserably5 before his relentless6 intelligence; and crafty7 rogues—'wide as Broad Street,' as their proverb went—at first sulked, faltered9 and prevaricated10 transparently11, but soon gave up all hope or effort to deceive him. Thus he was respected. Once he had made it plain that he was no common milch-cow in the matter of gratuities12: to be bamboozled13 for shillings, cajoled for coals, and bullied14 for blankets: then there became apparent in him qualities of charity and lovingkindness, well-judged and governed, that awoke in places a regard that was in a way akin15 to affection. And the familiar habit of the Jago slowly grew to call him Father Sturt.
Father Sturt was not to be overreached: that was the axiom gloomily accepted by all in the Jago who lived by what they accounted their wits. You could not juggle16 shillings and clothing (convertible into shillings) out of Father Sturt by the easy fee-faw-fum of repentance17 and salvation18 that served with so many. There were many of the Jagos (mightily despised by some of the sturdier ruffians) who sallied forth19 from time to time into neighbouring regions in pursuit of the profitable sentimentalist: discovering him—black-coated, earnest, green—sometimes a preacher, sometimes a layman20, sometimes one having authority on the committee of a charitable institution; dabbling21 in the East End on his own account, or administering relief for a mission, or disbursing22 a Mansion23 House Fund. He was of two chief kinds: the Merely-Soft,—the 'man of wool' as the Jago word went,—for whom any tale was good enough, delivered with the proper wistful misery25: and the Gullible-Cocksure, confident in a blind experience, who was quite as easy to tap, when approached with a becoming circumspection26. A rough and ready method, which served well in most cases with both sorts, was a profession of sudden religious awakening27. For this, one offered an aspect either of serene28 happiness or of maniacal29 exaltation, according to the customer's taste. A better way, but one demanding greater subtlety30, was the assumption of the part of Earnest Inquirer, hesitating on the brink31 of Salvation. For the attitude was capable of indefinite prolongation, and was ever productive of the boots, the coats, and the half-crowns used to coax32 weak brethren into the fold. But with Father Sturt, such trouble was worse than useless; it was, indeed, but to invite a humiliating snub. Thus, when Fluffy33 Pike first came to Father Sturt with the intelligence that he had at last found Grace, the Father Sturt asked if he had found it in a certain hamper34—a hamper hooked that morning from a railway van—and if it were of a quality likely to inspire an act of restoration to the goods office. Nothing was to be done with a man of this disgustingly practical turn of mind, and the Jagos soon ceased from trying.
Father Sturt had made more of the stable than the make-shift church he had found. He had organised a club in a stable adjoining, and he lived in the rooms over the shut-up shop. In the club he gathered the men of the Jago indiscriminately, with the sole condition of good behaviour on the premises35. And there they smoked, jumped, swung on horizontal bars, boxed, played at cards and bagatelle36, free from interference save when interference became necessary. For the women there were sewing-meetings and singing. And all governed with an invisible discipline, which, being brought to action, was found to be of iron.
Now there was ground on which might be built a worthier37 church; and Father Sturt had in mind a church which should have by its side a cleanly lodging-house, a night-shelter, a club, baths and washhouses. And at a stroke he would establish this habitation and wipe out the blackest spot in the Jago. For the new site comprised the whole of Jago Court and the houses that masked it in Old Jago Street.
This was a dream of the future—perhaps of the immediate38 future, if a certain new millionaire could only be interested in the undertaking—but of the future certainly. The money for the site alone had been hard enough to gather. In the first place the East London Elevation39 Mission and Pansophical Institute was asking very diligently40 for funds—and was getting them. It was to that, indeed, that people turned by habit when minded to invest in the amelioration of the East End. Then about this time there had arisen a sudden quacksalver, a Panjandrum of philanthropy, a mummer of the market-place, who undertook, for a fixed41 sum, to abolish poverty and sin together; and many, pleased with the new gaudery, poured out before him the money that had gone to maintain hospitals and to feed proved charities. So that gifts were scarce and hard to come by—indeed, were apt to be thought unnecessary, for was not misery to be destroyed out of hand? Moreover, Father Sturt wanted not for enemies among the Sentimental-Cocksure. He was callous............
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