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dents and illuminating observations of Gutter
experience, I made a mental note of this im-
portant fragment of science. A Gutter-baby
is not a domestic pet, and when caught
deteriorates rapidly in the process of civiliza-
tion.



CHAPTER XII

A Grandmother in Guttergarten

THERE is one person who has in
recent years completely reorganised
her position in Guttergarten. From
an habitual state of homeless poverty and
helpless appeal, and an uncertain livelihood
of swindling and beggary, she has risen lately
to a condition of respectable affluence and
absolute independence. She is, in fact, the
only person in Guttergarten who has private
means, and blessed is the household which
entertains a Grandmother. It is true that
the day has come at last when she may no
longer use those wrinkled hands, so worn and
hardened with the merciless battle of a life's
struggle for existence. That day of weakness
and failure, so cruelly feared in the past and
so bravely postponed from week to week,
through those alarming years of backache
and depression and swiftly increasing incom-
petence, has come at last to the Grandmother,

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A Grandmother in Guttergarten

and, after all, it was only in the foretaste that
it was bitter; and now the Grandmother sits
in her own chair, set like a throne in the joy-
less home of her son-in-law, with folded hands
and placid, smiling lips, a dignified and con-
sciously welcome guest. It may have been a
little hard, perhaps, to turn up her sleeves
over the bones of those withered arms for the
last time among her mates, but the tear of
farewell had scarcely started on its way along
the furrows in those shrunken cheeks before
it must suddenly evaporate in the sunny
atmosphere of the Grandmother's birthday
congratulations.

She was just seventy to-day.

Through the open window of her one-
roomed attic home, which also sheltered her
granddaughter, Lizzie, who had lately been
crowded out by her Gutter-baby brothers
and sisters, ascended the sudden tumult of
the street, as a semi-clothed and scarcely
awakened humanity tumbled out of warm
beds to battle against the sharp and bluster-
ing wind on their way to work. For the
Gutter-world was about again.

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Gutter-Babies

The reiteration of a long enforced habit
soon stirred the heavy lids and feeble ener-
gies of the Grandmother, and presently she
awoke. She was quite alone, for the curl-
pin decorated head of Lizzie, though much
against its will, had long been lifted from
the pillow beside her. There had been few
moments in the Grandmother's experience so
free from human correspondence, so full of
this great silence and refreshment. The
strange new atmosphere had hidden in it al-
most a sting of pain, and she listened with a
secret pleasure to the steady purposed tread of
that procession of toilers in the street below,
and began to wonder if they were all as tired
as she was. Involuntarily she stretched out
those worn hands of hers, with their dreadful
story of slavish struggles and anxious compe-
tition written in the seamed and horny palms
and registered fatally in each knotted joint
and enlarged knuckle. And now she was to
realise at last that they had won their ease.
To-day she might lie while the late sunbeams
played about her pillows, heedless or defiant
through the shrill warning of other people's

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A Grandmother in Guttergarten

alarm-clocks and the merciless din of hooters.
For the Sunday of a Grandmother's life had
come to her.

Yet it was intolerable to have abandoned
her place in the grinding machinery of the
Gutter-market; bitter to be cast off by this
toiling life of oppression and pain, in which
she had lived so heartily, and to which all the
children of the Gutter cling so tenaciously.
Only yesterday she had felt its grip upon her
body, had been almost fainting under the
lash of its rigorous and exacting cruelty. For
since her superannuation at the laundry, the
Grandmother had taken in other people's
Gutter-babies to mind, and it had been a
very strenuous occupation. The cunning
and unprincipled Gutter-babies took an un-
fair advantage of her genuine and overscru-
pulous anxiety to please the hot, tired mothers
when they dropped in one by one at feeding-
times. And as soon as they could lisp, they
told of those secret moral lapses of the Grand-
mother so deeply impressed upon their little
minds by the spiteful slaps of her exhausted
patience. For it is an unspoken rule in Gutter-

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Gutter-Babies

garten that you -must not "pay" anyone's
Gutter-baby except your own.

But to-day the Gutter-babies were all more
or less feebly protesting against the minis-
trations of some attentive stranger, and there
would be no loud-voiced women calling up
the stairs to her, to relieve them of their liv-
ing bundles.

"Mrs. 'Ammond, jes' give an eye to my
Cissie while I goes to the Baths with me bits."

The Grandmother began to feel lonely.

Here was peace after battle; but the proud
spirit of the old war-horse was pawing the
air; and yet how weary were those stiff and
rheumatic limbs as she turned again to her
slumber. Had they ever seemed so weary
before? A morbid shadow flitted across the
Grandmother's dream. She was thinking of
her sweetheart. For he had been called away
from her side before he could draw even the
first instalment of his pension, and it was so
lonely to be a Grandmother without a sweet-
heart. And then it was that the last Play-
mate arrived just at the psychological mo-
ment, when the hours of the Grandmother's

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A Grandmother in Guttergarten

life were rushing up towards the measureless
reality; that Playmate who was never to
desert her, whose echoing song was earth's
sweetest music, and the magic of whose touch
peopled naked monotony with an immortal
society. There he was, the ghost of That-
which-has-been, astride on the high-backed
chair where the Grandmother had long ago
nursed her own Gutter-babies, which had been
so tenderly set in its place to await the coming
of the sweetheart, where later on in the cate-
gory of time she knitted a perpetual sock,
and supervised the recreation of the third
generation. And thus he came to her, the
friend of the extreme need, with the profound
sympathy of his superhuman correspondence.

And he alone could speak her language,
and his people were indeed 'most peculiarly
her people. And so the Grandmother passed
into her new home, and sat on the old chair,
where this ghostly rider perched and chat-
tered in the joyless shadows of the son-in-
law's kitchen.

About her footstool the younger portion of
her Lizzie's abundant family quarrelled and

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Gutter-Babies

bit at each other and spilled their scanty din-
ners. And somewhere in the mysterious
region just beyond the horizon of her dimmed
spectacles, the blurred vision of the elder
Lizzie's patient face looked at her full of
gratitude.

" Mother, it's such a 'elp to 'ave your little
bit comin' in to-day."

And it was a proud moment when the news-
boy Billy came in clumsily, to ask in deep
confusion if Grannie could just lend him a
trifle to tide him over the week. It was to her,
as a matter of course, that the little ones
came clamouring for pennies on Saturdays,
when Daddy was out of work and their
raging thirst for ice cream or jumbled toffee
became intolerable. And when Teddie sat
at home crying forlornly because his boots
were gone on Monday morning, and he was
losing a medal by his absence from school,
it was the Grandmother again that came to
the rescue.

It is, indeed, little to be wondered at, then,
that there had been so fierce a competition
among the independent members of the fam-

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A Grandmother in Guttergarten

ily circle for the privilege of offering hospi-
tality to the Grandmother. There had once
been a time when the Grandmother, looking
forward to the coming fortune, had planned
to live on in the sweet solitude of the little
attic home. But the white despairing face
of the elder Lizzie, and the pitiful recital of
her suffering and wrongs, quickly dissipated
this self-centred scheme. It is to be hoped
that her splendid welcome and royal position
of benefactress, as she readily disembarrassed
herself each week of her earthly possessions,
cast about her an aura of beatitude which
somehow compensated to her for the turmoil
and discomfort of the son-in-law's hospital-
ity. Amid the wailing of neglected and undis-
ciplined Gutter-babies, and the peevish gos-
sip of the elder Lizzie, and the drunken furies
of the son-in-law amid all the confusion
and chaos of Gutter domesticity the Grand-
mother passed her last days with the Play-
mate.

Utterly deaf and nearly blind, the Grand-
mother was now almost quite unresponsive
to the world of sense. Her little shrunken

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Gutter-Babies

figure rocked itself backwards and forwards
on the old chair, as her fingers flew automati-
cally over the perpetual sock, and into its
bottomless capacity, as the stitches accumu-
lated under the clicking needles, was slowly
collecting all the humorous philosophy and
tender wit of the merry ghost of "That-
which-has-been." It was now scarcely pos-
sible for any human being to hold correspond-
ence with her. Head and heart and hand were
pledged to the Playmate, and he was off on
some mad venture through his fairyland of
ghostly memory beyond the consciousness of
matter and mind.

Yet at times the ghost of " That-which-has-
been" had strange psychic stirrings and dim
religious yearnings in the depths of his being.

Then they would send imperatively for
the Gutter Parson. But the mystery of his
communications with the Grandmother, and
those shadowy confidences which reached
him from the ghostly land, are buried now
with the Gutter Parson's genius for human
correspondence.

It was about six months after the great
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A Grandmother in Guttergarten

birthday, I should think, that these three
friends, the Grandmother, the Playmate, and
the Gutter Parson met for the last time on
earth.

She had not been able to feel us near her
all day.

On her lips was set that meaningless and
mirthless smile which the ghostly companion
had frozen there, and on her tired face grey
shadows had deepened. Her fingers had been
much less active than usual, and the perpet-
ual sock, with its wide content of mystery,
hung collapsed upon her bosom.

11 She ain't near so well to-day, are yer,
Grannie?" said the elder Lizzie, in answer to
all enquiries, but no word reached the Grand-
mother. It must have been late in the after-
noon that the Gutter Parson came, for the
three friends drank tea and condensed milk
together. It would be a little distasteful to
the Gutter Parson, for I remember he did not
sweeten his tea. We could not have assisted
at that strange feast even then, or have
mingled in the secret sympathy of that won-
derful trio, and now they have all passed

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Gutter-Babies

from us into a yet more unfathomable reserve.
And so we must leave them.

I suppose the scales which hid the world
of sense from those unenquiring eyes were
never lifted once during that seance, and the
Gutter Parson did not make his attack
through the Grandmother's ear-trumpet, yet
he set up an electric battery of sympathy
somehow. And then the sign of his conquest
over that amazing personality was her ac-
ceptance of his gift of tobacco.

It was only a very little while after the
Gutter Parson had left that the Grandmother
laid aside her pipe and fell off her chair into
a little bundle that now meant nothing at all.



CHAPTER XIII

The Gutter Philanthropy

IT sometimes happens that very good
people make perilous descents into the
Gutter with vaguely benevolent inten-
tions of doing something for the little Gutter-
babies. Perhaps it is well for them that they
realise the peril quite as little as the madness
of their enterprise. Such efforts are, gener-
ally speaking, associated with inglorious fail-
ure. Here in the Gutter we do not like very
good people, and we have no use at all for
anything vague and indefinite. We' know so
well what we want, and we want it desper-
ately, we want it now.

The tremendous need of the Gutter is in
the eternal "at once" of things, as once in
the creature's childhood a door was shut, as
once in the fulness of time God's Heart broke.
It is too great a thing to play with. But the
idle rich find another toy for their restless
wits. For while they are congratulating each

in



Gutter-Babies

other upon the effect of their schemes upon
the England of an unborn generation, we
want our breakfast! And so the Gutter
teaches its little ones to spit in the faces of
those they beg from.

Like good angels these dear creatures come,
with plenty of fur trimming and silk under-
skirts, and kid gloves to pat the Gutter-
babies' heads. And, oh, that in their beauti-
ful condescension they might know how we
hate them!

"Ain't yer got a big boa, Miss," said an
awe-struck factory girl in the Evening Social,
as she stroked tenderly a long serpent of
skinned moles.

"Yes, dear!" responded the visitor, with
rash amiability; " would you like to try it on? "

"Gawd, no, Miss, I might look like a
lydy!"

But they brighten the lives of the little
wild people by affording them such innocent
amusement.

A small flower-seller, fresh from the lock-up
where she had been paying the penalty of
setting down her basket on the pavement, to

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The Gutter Philanthropy

rest her tired arms for one moment, had just
had a merry meeting with one of them.

"Gawd love yer, Miss," she said, "did yer
see 'er chuckin' 'er weight about ? I offers 'er
me boot-lace wot I just took off for a copper,
and I says I ain't no 'ome, nor ain't I, Gawd
knows.

"'My pore gal/ says she, 'ain't yer no
reference?'

"'No,' says I, 'I bin in service this three
year, and the lydy's dead.' That's wot I
says, Gawd forgive me! So 'er says ter me,
'Ho,' says she, 'well, my pore gal, I could n't
'ave yer without no reference,' and 'er outs
with this penny and smiles!"

Rosie was homeless at fifteen; her only
friend was the loafing boy who had ruined
her; the pretty face lifted to me was pinched
and piteous; yet she could sit down in the
Gutter and forget everything in a convulsion
of honest enjoyment over the bitter irony of
that philanthropic smile!

Meanwhile the good angel proceeds upon
her benevolent path distributing cautious
pennies and inopportune gaiety.

"3



Gutter-Babies

At the end of the street, one overhears the
Twins' Mother warning the yellow-haired
Alf against "her like"!

" I '11 tear the liver out of you, if yer touches
any of 'er dirty chink, so there now! 'er ain't
up to no good, enticin' of the pore children
after 'er!"

Long before the penny bank has failed, I
expect, the Gutter-babies' attitude will have
become bold and defiant. They will be
pirouetting behind her in an absurd and in-
sulting caricature of her "mincin' hairs!"
They will be yelling after her, "Not in that
'at!" "Wot, all for the same money!" And
thus they will escort her, even to the farthest
limits of Guttergarten!

Safe at home again, the philanthropist is
not always satisfied with such a defeat, but
continues to cherish her earth-reforming
schemes, and presently, perhaps, attempts
another and more carefully organised attack.
A little philanthropic office is opened in a
cautiously selected locality, and if the finan-
cier is wise, there should be behind the desk
an official with a wide experience of the eccen-

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The Gutter Philanthropy

trie life and wonderful habits of the Gutter-
folk, disguised under an innocent and kindly
exterior.

Hastening out with an empty dish and a
sixpence to fetch my dinner on one occasion
I met Mrs. Sly, who was immediately in-
spired by the fleeting vision of my obvious
errand to relieve me of so much superfluous
cash.

"Mornin', Miss!" she said; 'and then as I
reluctantly resigned my place in the long
queue outside the cookshop, she became
lachrymose.

''Did yer know as 'ow me pore Lizzie was
dead?" "

I had not had any previous intimation of
the fact, and was duly shocked. Lizzie was
one of the inner circle of my friends, a sharp-
tongued, bright-faced little match-factory
girl, who had kept her parents and an idle
brother and her married sister's family out
of the House ever since she had been old
enough to use her own busy little hands.

"Yes, Miss, 'er's lyin' dead in a 'ome at
Margate this very minnit! The fun'ral's at



Gutter-Babies

two, and I just come out ter see if I can find
any money, fer 'ow ter git there I don't
know! It seems as if I was to meet you, don't
it, Miss? And me pore Lizzie 'er always
thought the world of you, Miss!"

As I turned away with an empty dish, the
church clock struck one with a shocking pre-
cision, and I reflected that the chase for Liz-
zie's funeral would be a heated one !

Presently a string of girls linked together
at the elbows swung round me, monopolising
the pavement, and from the centre the ghost
of Lizzie in splendid material condition
greeted me noisily.

"'Ullo, Miss, 'ow's yer luck?"

It is such incidents as this that finish off
and complete the bitter education of a Gutter
philanthropist.

But the imposition of the Gutter is not
frequently so superficial. When it happens
to be, it is a special insult to the feeble per-
ception of the particular victim upon whom
it is seemingly not worth while to waste the
higher gifts of mendacity, and it is a vain
thing to challenge the matchless repartee of

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The Gutter Philanthropy

the Gutter tongue. Here, for instance, is
Special Johnny, who has been sent to get in
the shopping, struggling with the splendid
spoils of the local market ! One hand is occu-
pied with part of an orange snatched from a
stall en route, in the other is secreted the
sticky change, and the rest of the orange is
distributed about his person; a colossal and
abominably green cabbage is tucked under
his arm, and at his side two ghastly rabbits
dangle unpleasantly, and a parcel of assorted
groceries has disgorged its contents at his
feet.

One is glad, of course, to be of any service
to a pal in such difficult circumstances, but
as one accompanies him homewards, bearing
the least revolting half of the treasure, it
occurs to one that a basket would do just as
well.

"Ain't got no bloody bag!" objected
Johnny sulkily.

But it could be got for fourpence, and
Johnny had bruised the cabbage and lost
half his groceries; the rabbits had been
dragged through every puddle, and I had

117



Gutter-Babies

been led at least a quarter of a mile out of my
original course. In consideration of domestic
economy and the public convenience, Johnny
ought to take a bag when he went shopping.

"Garn!" says Special Johnny; "stop yer
jaw; the 'ares would eat the greens!"

Someone once suggested, for the sake of
Blanchie's profession, that her accent ought
to be improved. So we teased her on the
matter of vowels.

"Can't say food, can you, Blanchie!" we
jeered.

" I kin sy fule! " returned Blanchie, and dis-
missed the subject.

The other day I watched the return of a
friend of mine from a week-end expedition.
A few doors from her destination a cunning
loafer started in pursuit of her cab, and as
she alighted presented himself in a panting
and exhausted condition. His services were
not required, but the pathos of his imagin-
ation produced a small coin from a bulgy
purse.

"I've er widder and two children at 'ome,
lydy!"

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The Gutter Philanthropy

Suddenly I observed the donor's finger and
thumb close severely over sixpence, as if
conscious of some discrepancy in the nar-
rative.

"You silly fellow, how can your wife be a
widow?" she enquired with deep suspicion.

"Lydy, 'er's me mother," lied the scound-
rel glibly.

He did not account for the children, but I
suppose the suspicious person had had enough
of him. At the corner he turned back as he
spat viciously on the gift!

"Thought yer got me, didn't yer!" he
jeered offensively.

By this time the door of the little Philan-
thropic Office is swinging behind the first
applicant.

"Please, Miss, I wants er Phropic!" ex-
plains a stout bronchial person with a baby
in a fit of whooping-cough under her arm!
"I lives at 25, in the Market!"

"Oh, come now," one says, "I think there
must be a little mistake somewhere!" For
one is more intelligent than seems to be ap-
parent. "What is your landlady's name? I

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Gutter-Babies

wonder if you remember Mrs. Kirby, do
you?"

"I don't know er nime, Miss, I ain't bin
there long. I 'aves a little slip room at the
back, and I just goes in and out, and takes
no notice of no one, Miss!"

When persuasions and suggestions have all
failed, it is necessary to resort to more drastic
treatment.

"Now look here, Mrs. Kirby, I happen to
know you don't live at number 25!"

"I knows I do!" protests Mrs. Kirby, and
retires swearing at my promise to call on her
at home.

After office hours an official visit is paid to
number 25, where the landlady happens to
be the Twins' mother.

The usual topics must be discussed and all
the minute formulae of a Gutter call observed
faithfully. The weather was mild for the
time of year, the laundry season was start-
ing. "Pore Earn" had been buried nearly a
twelvemonth. Blanchie was n't doing much,
and had worn out another pair of shoes prac-
tising her skipping on the "hashphalt," al-

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The Gutter Philanthropy

though her foster father had thrashed her till
he could n't hold up his arm any more. Fin-
ally, Mrs. Kirby did not live there, of course,
but someone had called and asked to have a
"phropic ticket" sent there for them. That
was her, no doubt, but you had to be so care-
ful what you said to such people, because
"they give you a dab in the face for two
pins!"

After a great deal of trouble, when Mrs.
Kirby is eventually discovered, her dis-
pleasure and contempt are violent!

"S'pose you knew I don't live there now?
And what if I don't, yer hypocritin' swine,
nosin' round me! If yer calls that Charity,
keep it, then."

Much more has to be borne with seeming
indifference, and presently one may be able
to get in a word, for even the vocabulary of
Mrs. Kirby is not inexhaustible.

"And now tell me why you wanted me to
help you!"

There is a sudden paralysis of this atmo-
spheric storm, as if some electric current had
been unexpectedly disconnected, for the soul

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Gutter-Babies

of Kirby is a battle-scene of many emotions.
I am a "nosey intruder" who has made her
out a liar, but underneath this great wave of
resentment, the deep of one human sympathy
is calling imperatively to another.

The thin lines of Kirby's mouth have col-
lapsed forlornly, and the world of Kirby is
wrapped in a wet blanket.

"The baby was a-cryin' fer bread!"

Through this labyrinth of lies and profes-
sional inquisition, we had at last arrived at
the fact, which, in the exquisite pathos of its
simplicity, has in the story of Man forced
the granaries of Heaven, claimed the sym-
pathy of Mary's Son, and still has weight to
touch the heart of a State.

A Gutter-baby was hungry!

There is of course a less conspicuous and
far more genuine system of philanthropy
working very quietly within the Gutter!

At the top of number 25, a little dress-
maker's improver is dying slowly of cancer,
dying as she has lived in a lonely agonising
struggle against a pitiless destiny. But the
Twins' mother is kind in her attention, and is

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The Gutter Philanthropy

letting the rent run on unnoticed, and there
is no shameful appeal here for Charity. Every
pay-day her mates drop in one by one on
their way from the work-room and leave a
shilling behind them. Any feeble suggestion
of the Infirmary or philanthropic interference
from without is met with fierce objections.

"We've kep' yer all this time, 'ave n't we?
and we'll see yer don't want fer nothink till
the end; don't cher fret, Nell, me darlin'!"

How some of these people live is a complete
mystery to the local Committee, and they
are never tired of making long speeches about
it at their frequent sessions; then the Gutter
Parson lifts an intelligent eyebrow and says
that he wonders, too !

Somewhere or other below the muddle and
blunder, there trickles a thin, clear stream of
kindliness, and if ever the person on the plat-
form has enough of the genius of human cor-
respondence to sweat barearmed with tired
workers, to sit at meat among Our Set, and
drop a penny into the pocket of Special


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