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HOME > Classical Novels > A Child of the Jago37 > CHAPTER 30
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 Josh Perrott earned his marks, and in less than four years from his conviction he came away from Portland. It was a mere1 matter of hours ere his arrival in London, when Dicky, hands in pockets, strolled along Old Jago Street, and by the 'Posties' to High Street.  
Dicky was almost at his seventeenth birthday. He had grown his utmost, and stood five feet two. He wore a cap with a cloth peak and ear-laps tied at the top with strings2, slap-up kicksies, cut saucy3, and a bob-tail coat of the out-and-out description: though all these glories were torn and shabby, and had been bought second-hand4. He was safe from any risk of the reformatory now, being well over the age; and he had had the luck never to have been taken by the police since his father's lagging—though there were escapes too narrow to be thought about with comfort. It was a matter for wonderment, and he spoke5 of it with pride. Here he was, a man of long experience, and near seventeen years old, yet he had never been in prison. Few, very few of such an age could say that.
Sometimes he saw his old enemy, the hunchback, who worked at a shoemaker's, but he saw him with unconcern. He cared nothing for tale-bearing now. The memory of old injuries had dulled, and, after all, this was a merely inconsiderable hunchback, whom it were beneath his dignity to regard with anything but tolerant indifference6. Bob Roper steered7 clear at such encounters, and showed his teeth like a cat, and looked back malevolently8. It didn't matter.
Dicky was not married, either in the simple Jago fashion or in church. There was little difference, as a matter of fact, so far as facility went. There was a church in Bethnal Green where you might be married for sevenpence if you were fourteen years old, and no questions asked—or at any rate they were questions answers whereunto were easy to invent. You just came in, drunk if possible, with a batch9 of some scores, and rowdied about the church with your hat on, and the curate worked off the crowd at one go, calling the names one after another. You sang, or you shouted, or you drank out of a bottle, or you flung a prayer-book at a friend, as the fancy took you; and the whole thing was not a bad joke for the money, though after all sevenpence is half-a-gallon, and not to be wasted. But Dicky had had enough to do to look after his mother and Em and little Josh—as Hannah Perrott had called the baby. Dicky, indeed, had a family already. More: the Jago girls affected10 him with an odd feeling of repulsion. Not of themselves, perhaps, though they were squalid drabs long ere they were ripe for the sevenpenny church: but by comparison with the clean, remote shop-girls who were visible through the broad windows in the outer streets.
Dicky intended the day to be a holiday. He was not going 'out,' as the word went, for ill-luck had a way of coming on notable days like this, and he might easily chance to 'fall' before his father got home. He was almost too big now for carrying bags at Liverpool Street, because small boys looked cheaper than large ones—not that there was anything especially large about Dicky, beyond his height of five feet two; and at the moment he could think of nothing else that might turn a copper11. He stood irresolute12 on the High Street footway, and as he stood, Kiddo Cook hove in sight, dragging a barrow-load of carrots and cabbages. Kiddo had not yet compassed the stall with the rain-proof awning13. But it was almost in sight, for the barrow could scarce hold all that he could sell; and there was a joke abroad that he was to be married in Father Sturt's church: some facetiously14 suggesting that Mother Gapp would prove a good investment commercially, while others maintained the greater eligibility15 of old Poll Rann.
''Tcheer, Dicky!' said Kiddo, pulling up and wiping his cap-lining with a red cotton handkerchief. 'Ol' man out to-day, ain't 'e?'
'Yus,' Dicky answered. ''Spect 'im up to-night.'
Kiddo nodded, and wiped his face. ''Spose the mob'll git up a break for 'im,' he said; 'but 'e'll 'ave a bit o'
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