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HOME > Classical Novels > A Child of the Jago37 > CHAPTER 26
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 It was Father Sturt's practice to visit every family in his parish in regular order. But small as the parish was—insignificant, indeed, in mere1 area—its population exceeded eight thousand: so that the round was one of many months, for visiting was but one among innumerable duties. But Josh Perrott's lagging secured his family a special call. Not that the circumstances were in any way novel or at all uncommon2; nor even that the vicar had any hope of being able to help. He was but the one man who could swim in a howling sea of human wreckage3. In the Jago, wives like Hannah Perrott, temporarily widowed by the absence of husbands 'in the country,' were to be counted in scores, and most were in worse case than she, in the matter of dependent children. Father Sturt's house-list revealed the fact that in Old Jago Street alone, near seventy of the males were at that moment on ticket-of-leave.  
In the Perrott case, indeed, the sufferers were fortunate, as things went. Mrs Perrott had but herself and the child of two to keep, for Dicky could do something, whether good or bad, for himself. The vicar might try to get regular work for Dicky, but it would be a vain toil5, for he must tell an employer what he knew of Dicky's past and of that other situation. He could but give the woman the best counsel at his command, and do what he might to quicken any latent spark of energy. So he did his best, and that was all. The struggle lay with Hannah Perrott.
She had been left before, and more than once; but then the periods had been shorter, and, as a matter of fact, things had fallen out so well that scarce more than a meal here and there had had to be missed, though, when they came, the meals were apt to be but of crusts. And now there was more trouble ahead; for though she began her lonely time with but one small child on hand, she knew that ere long there would be two.
Of course, she had worked before; not only when Josh had been 'in' but at other times, to add to the family resources. She was a clumsy needlewoman: else she might hope to earn some ninepence or a shilling a day at making shirts, by keeping well to the needle for sixteen hours out of the twenty-four; and from the whole sum there would be no deductions6, except for needles and cotton, and what the frugal7 employer might choose to subtract for work to which he could devise an objection. But, as it was, she must do her best to get some sack-making. They paid one and sevenpence a hundred for sacks, and, with speed and long hours, she could make a hundred in four days. Rush bag-making would bring even more, which would be desirable, considering the three-and-sixpence a week for rent: which, with the payments for other rooms, made the rent of the crazy den4 in Old Jago Street about equal, space for space, to that of a house in Onslow Square. Then there was a more lucrative8 employment still, but one to be looked for at intervals9 only: one not to be counted on at all, in fact, for it was a prize, and many sought after it. This was the making of match-boxes. For making one hundred and forty-four outside cases with paper label and sandpaper, and the same number of trays to slide into them—a gross of complete boxes, or two hundred and eighty-eight pieces in all—one got twopence farthing; indeed, for a special size one even got a farthing a gross more; and all the wood............
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