Join date: Jun 11, 2022


Rory took the money, signed the book, marked it in his own hard-backed pocket ledger, then went on to the next house. Here he pushed open the bottom door and called up the dark well of the staircase, ‘Rent!’ and after a moment a man’s voice came back to him shouting, ‘Fetch it up.’

His nose wrinkled in distaste. If he had a penny for every time that worn-out quip had been thrown at him he considered he’d be able to buy a house of his own. After a moment of silence he again shouted, ‘Rent, or it’s the bums Monday.’

The moleskin-trousered bulky figure appeared on the stairhead and after throwing the rent book and a half-crown down the stairs he yelled, ‘You know what you and the bloody bums can do, don’t you?’ then as Rory picked up the money and the book and entered in the amount the man proceeded to elaborate on what he and the bums could do

Without uttering a word now Rory threw the book on to the bottom stair, looked up at the man still standing on the landing, then turned about and went towards the end of the street.

There was no answer whatever from the next three doors he knocked on, but he had scarcely raised the knocker on the fourth when it was opened and Mrs Fawcett stood there, her rent book in one hand, the half-crown extended in the other, and without any greeting she began, ‘You won’t get any change out of them lot.’ She nodded to one side of her. ‘Nor to this one next door.’ Her head moved the other way. ‘Off to Shields they are, the lot of them, to the market and they won’t come back with a penny, not if I know them. Lazy Irish scum. And I’ll tell you somethin’.’ She leant her peevish face towards him. ‘Her, Flaherty, she’s got her front room packed with beds, and lettin’ them out by the shift; as one lot staggers out another lot drops in. Great Irish navvies with not a drop on their faces from Monday mornin’ till Saturda’ night, but Sunday, oh, that’s different, away to Mass they are, and straight out and into the bars. Disgrace!’

Rory closed her rent book, handed it to her, looked at her straight in the eye, then turned and walked away. He did not bother knocking at the door next to hers for he believed what she had said, they were all away on a spending spree. It was odd, she was the only good payer in the street; she’d always had a clear rent book; but of the lot of them, scum Irish they might be, he preferred any one of them to Mrs Fawcett.


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