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HOME > Classical Novels > A Child of the Jago37 > CHAPTER 22
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 The feud1 between the Jago and Dove Lane was eternal, just as was that between the Ranns and the Learys; but, like the Rann and Leary feud, it had its paroxysms and its intervals2. And, in both cases, the close of a paroxysm was signalised by a great show of amity3 between the factions4. Bob Rann and Billy Leary would drink affably from the same pot, and Norah Walsh and Sally Green would call each other 'mum'; while Jagos and Dove-Laners would mingle5 in bars and lend pinches of tobacco, and call each other 'matey.' A paroxysm in the war had now passed, and reconciliation6 was due. The Dove-Laners had been heavily thrashed: their benjamins and kicksies had been impounded in Meakin Street, and they had ceased from buying. Dove Lane itself had been swept from end to end by the victorious7 Jago, and the populations of both were dotted thickly with bandaged heads. This satisfactory state of things achieved, there was little reason left for fighting. Moreover, if fighting persisted too long at a time, the police were apt to turn up in numbers, subjecting the neighbourhood to much inconvenient8 scrutiny9, and very often coming across Jagos—or even Dove-Laners—'wanted' on old accounts. So peace was declared; and, as a visible sign thereof, it was determined10 that the Dove-Laners should visit the Jago in a body, there to join in a sing-song at Mother Gapp's. Mother Gapp's was chosen, not only because it was Mother Gapp's—an important consideration—but also because of the large room behind the bar, called the 'club-room,' which had long ago been made of two rooms and a big cupboard, by the cutting away of crazy partitions from the crazy walls.  
Scarce was it dark when the Dove-Laners, in a succession of hilarious11 groups—but withal a trifle suspicious—began to push through Mother Gapp's doors. Their caps pulled down to their ears, their hands in their pockets, their shoulders humped, and their jackets buttoned tight, they lurched through the Jago, grinning with uneasy affability at the greetings that met them, being less practised than the Jagos in the assumption of elaborate cordiality.
In the club-room of the Feathers there were but three or four of the other party, though the bar was packed. The three or four, of whom Josh Perrott was one, were by way of a committee of stewards12 deputed to bid the Dove-Laners welcome, and to help them to seats. The Jagos were in some sort in the situation of hosts, and it had been decided13 after debate that it would ill become them to take their places till their guests were seated. The punctilio of the Jago on such occasions was a marvel14 ever.
So Josh Perrott stood at one side of the club-room door and Billy Leary at the other, shaking hands with all who entered, and strenuously15 maintaining cheerful grins. Now the Jago smile was a smile by itself, unlike the smiles in other places. It faded suddenly, and left the face—the Jago face—drawn and sad and startling by contrast, as of a man betrayed into mirth in the midst of great sorrow. So that a persistent16 grin was known for a work of conscious effort.
The Dove-Laners came in still larger numbers than had been expected, and before long it was perceived that there would be little space in the club-room, if any at all, for the Jagos. Already the visitors seemed to fill the place, but they still kept coming, and found places by squeezing. There was some doubt as to what had best be done. Meanwhile the sing-song began, for at least a score were anxious to 'oblige' at once, and every moment fresh volunteers arose. Many Dove-Laners stood up, and so made more room; but more came, and still more, till the club-room could hold not another, and the very walls were like to burst. Under the low ceiling hung a layer of smoke that obscured the face of the man standing17 on the table at the end to sing; and under the smoke was a close-packed array of heads, hats, and clay pipes, much diversified19 by white bandages and black eyes.
Such Dove-Laners as came in now were fain to find places in the bar, if they could; and a crowd of Jagos, men and women, hung about the doors of the Feathers. More fortunate than other boys, Dicky, who would go anywhere to hear what purported20 to be music, had succeeded in worming himself through the bar and almost to the door of the club-room; but he could get no farther, and now he stood compressed, bounded on the face by Cocko Harnwell's coat-tails, and on the back of the head by Fluffy21 Pike's moleskin waistcoat, with pearlies down the front and the artful dodge22 over the pockets. Pud Palmer—one of the reception committee—was singing. He accompanied his chorus by a step dance, and all the company stamped in sympathy:—
'She's a fighter, she's a biter, she's a swearer, she's a tearer,
The gonophs down aar alley23 they calls 'er Rorty Sal;
But as I'm a pertikiler sort o' bloke, I calls 'er Rorty Sairer,
I'm goin'—'
Dicky clung to Cocko Harnwell's coat-tails lest he were trampled24 to death; and for a while he was flung about, crushed and bruised25, among rushing men, like a swimmer among breakers, while the air was rent with howls and the smash of glass. For the club-room floor had given way.
It had been built but slightly in the beginning, as floor for two small rooms and a cupboard, with little weight to carry. Old and rotten now, and put to the strain of a multitude, stamping in unison26, it had failed utterly27, and had let down a struggling mob of men five feet on the barrels in the cellar, panic-stricken and
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