Victorian London - Publications - Social Investigation/Journalism - Life in the London Streets, by Richard Rowe, 1881 - Chapter 12 - An Italian Girl's Story

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XII. 

AN ITALIAN*  GIRL'S STORY.

[*Now-a-days a good many organ girls are English women dressed up.]

AH, yes, yen I go out rond - outside de street vere de stone is - I see flower on de fruit tree, but it is cold, ver cold, in your contree. De vind jomp up and bite me on de neck like big dog. I cannot use myself to your contree. I shiver now as in de vinter. It is quite so cold.
    De sun make himself feel in my contree, not run avay and hide himself four, five, eight veek, like dis contree, and den ven he corn, no good - not moosh. You mus put yourself into  [-177-] de fire and choke yourself vid black smoke to make yourself varm.
    Dey say your contree ver reech, but not fine contree like Eetalee. De big grape and de orange and de lemon and de melon grow dere onder de sky, and de bulls is twice so big as Anglish. Tree year, more, I am. in dis contree, but I veesh me back vid my poor moder. My moder dead dere - bury. Nobody care for me like moder - no, not no one - never. Poor fader dead now, in dis contree - all alone. I do not find it ver reech; no, not for me!
    Ven moder die, fader go vander like de ship. No, no, not on de sea ! - de ship vid four leg and de vool. Vander dis vay, and dat vay, all vay. After tree, four veek, he com back and sell our ting. No, no, ve ave not rnoosh for him to sell. Den he tell me ve go France; and ve go France. Ve go Civita Vecchia and take de vaisseau. Yes, yes, vot your call your ship dis time, not de ship vid de horn and de hoof - to Marseilles. Plenty ship dere. Den ve valk to Lyons, vere dey make de silk, and den to Paris. Ve rest good vile at Paris. Plenty Italien at Paris. Fader get an organ and go out to play, and I go vid him. I dance and beat de tambour, and take him rond for de moanee. Sometime plendy of moanee, sometime not noding. A camarade of my fader say he go Lon-don, and my fader say ve go Lon-don also. Dis man know Lon-don vell. [-178-] So ve valk to Boulogne, and dere ve take de steamboat to Lon-don Breege.
    I am seek all de time on de vaisseau - ah, how I am seek! - and de vater com over de ship and vet me ver bad. De lamp shine on de river ven ve get to Lon-don Breege. Quite dark and de street full of mud. I not know veech vay Carlo lead us; but yes, I know now ver vell. Ve go onder do church, up Feesh Street Hill, an' so ve go tro de Ceetee to Hol-born, up Ledder Lane to Eyre Street. Nearly all Italien dere - men and boy, old vomen and de leetell babee de moder take out vid her on de organ like de monkey. It vas good to hear my language. Ah! if you could speak my language you could better onderstand. I cannot tell you in de Anglish. It is ver strange language, I know but leetell. Vy you call so many ting bloody? De turnip, and de herring, and de pint of beer, and de pair of boot, and de poll-eeseman - everyting!
    De camarade of my fader bad man. He try to lead me leave my fader and get moanee for him vid my dance and de tambour. He say fader poor fool - know noting of dis contree; dat I shall starve if I stay vid him. But I vill not leave my fader. I tell him vat Carlo say - I tell all de Italien in de house - and dey drive Carlo out to go lodge vere he can.
    All de oder Italien ver kind at first - not all alvay, but at first. Dey tell us veech vay to [-179-] go to find moanee. Soon ve find for ourselve. Den dey not so kind. Dey say ve go about too moosh; dat ve should make de good rond for ourselve, not com spoil deir rond. All vay ve go. Vat good stay here von ve get no moanee? So ve go try dere - all tro Lon-don. Sometime ve valk tro do field, den ve sleep at de town in de field; but ven ve at Lon-don ve try to sleep at de same house, de first house ve com to ven ve ave daysambark. Full of Italien - all rond full of Italien - but ve ave use ourselve more to dat house. Ah, yes; ve ave our macaroni dere, but not alvay. Sornetime ve take bread and tea and potato and de herring as de oder, but ve ave de macaroni also, and ve make our soup.
    Ve go to de same place ven ve can, because we feet not so daysolated in your contree if ve can call von place our house.
    Ah, yes; I am all alone now - all alone. Often I feel myself ver daysolated. A poor voman die in our house all alone. I am glad I keep avake to see her die. She pray me keep avake to see her die. She com to de house vid her leetell daughter; nobody know her; no body know vy she com. She not speak moosh, but veep ver moosh in do night ven she tink de odor all asleep. Yes, she vas Italien like do odor, but she scarce ever speak.
    Only two, tree day after she com, de leetell girl fall seek. First her moder say she ave got [-180-] de cold, but it is de fever she ave got. She soon die, poor leetell girl, and ven do moder com back from de burying, she ave de fever also. She pray me stay vid her; so I ask my fader, and he not refuse me. He go out by himself and leave me vid de poor voman at de house. De doctor com too late. He shake his head and go avay. Dat night she die. She ave been mad, but she vake up before she die, ver frightened till she see me. Den she squeeze my hand and try to tank me, but she die, and de church clock strike Von. Nobody know noting about her.
    Ah, yes, dere is som Anglish dat is kind to de Italien, hut not ver many - no, no, not many. Dey vill give de pennee or de aypennee because deir leetell boy and girl love de museek and de dance, but dey do not love us- no, no more dan de monkey. De monkey dance, and sometime he turn de handell, and dey laugh, but dey do not love de monkey  - no, no - and dey do not love neider de Italien. If deir temper bad, dey tell him go avay, and call for de poll-eeseman lock him up. Do Italien alvay go avay, if any von malade, but de Anglish often tell de poll-eeseman big lie, dat     he may drive avay de Italien. No, no, I ave not find your reech contree ver reech contree for me.
    Ah, but yes, som of de Anglish is ver kind to de Italien - two, tree. In de first vinter ve spend in Angland, ve go von day to vat you [-181-] call Clapton. It vas ver cold day. Fader ad his hand blue vid de cold; he could not feel de handell. It vas impossible dat I should not shake de tambour, because I vas shaking alvay myself. For two, tree hour ve ave not take von aypennee, ven, behold, I see de face of young peopell laughing above de vindow-blind. I go into de court and dance, and de young peopell laugh all de more - yes, ver moosh.
    De signor and de signora com to de vindow to see vat make so moosh of laugh, and de signor put his hand into his pocket, but den he say someting to do signora, and she laugh and nod her head. Den he speak to his leetell boy, and de leetell boy run out and tell me to go into de house, and den he run out into de road and bring in fader. Dey lead us into do kitchen vere is de big fire, and dey make us seat ourselve, and eat de hot food and drink de hot drink; and ven ve are rested ve are told dat ve may go, and de leetell boy and his broder and his seester give us moanee - each of dem von pennee.
    Each time ve go by after dat, de leetell boy and his broder and his seester give us deir moanee ven dey are at home. Ve do not go all de veeks - dat not polite. But von day ven ve go, all de vindow is blinded. It is ver hot, for dis contree - de sun shine full on dem. But my fader set himself to play upon de organ, and I take myself to de fore court and [-182-] commence to dance. It is more pleasant dere, for de tall tree trow down deir shade, and de lilac flower smell ver sveet. But a servant com out and tell me go avay and stop de museek, for her master dead - de kind gentellman - and to be bury nex day, and her mistress not suffer de sound of de organ. Nex time ve go by, dere is great bill in de vindow, and de signora and de leetell boy and his broder and his seester all gone avay, and ve never see dem - no, not never no more.
    Ah, yes, it is so. Ve see moosh of change in de house ve play to. De peopell corn and do peopell go as de fly. Now dey are here and now dey are dere, or dey are gone avay, nobody know vere. Tree year - more - I am in London, and I ave seen great change - yes, ver moosh. Dere is von house at Eyegate vere de blackbird make deir nest in de vater-pipe. Every year I see de blackbird, but de peopell! - two, tree new each year. Som time old gentel1man vid de vite air, som time de big man vid de face like beef, dat growl at us like de bull; som time de vidow lady, dat dress herself ver smart to get a new usband. Ah, yes, it is so - ver moosh of change. Ve tink to see de young gentellman and lady  - no good, no, not moosh, play vere no young gentellman and lady. But dere com a leetell man vid de long air, and put de finger in de ear, and stamp and try to bite. It is no good to smile at de leetell man - dat [-183-] make him vorse. He svear at us - yes, ver bad vord for gentellman; and if ve no go, he go for de poll-eeseman, and de leetell man tell de judge he cannot write his book, he cannot count up de von and de two, because ve make so moosh of museek. Den de judge tell us ve mus not make museek vere de leetell man can ear; if he no write his book, count up de von and de two, his vife and his infant vill ave no beef. But ve not ave no bread if ve not make do museek. Vat ve do? De leetell man say he ear our museek in de odor street, vere ve not make none - no, not at all.
    To Greenveech ve go som time at de fÍte - to de Black Heath, vere dey ride de donkey and de leetell horse, and de young vomen jomp over de long line, and de young men hunt de young vomen in and out for to kees. Ah, yes, and de old men and de old vomen run down de hill in de park for to get de red face, and ave no bret; som time dey roll down. It is ver droll to see de fat old man go down like de cask. But de park is ver nice ven de rnoanee ave come, to rest on de grass onder do tree, and give de leetell deer de morsel of bread, and look at de peopell and de ship on de vater. I take rond de tambour, and de pennee dance ven he jomp into him. Som time I dance, but not alvay - dere is not space. But von time ve are not glad at Greenveech. Do peopell ave dronk too moosh of beer. Dey knock down my poor [-184-] fader, and take avay my moanee. Vat shall ve do? My poor fader cry, for de organ is spoil. And vere ve sleep? Ve ave no moanee. Do rain com down. Ve are ver sad. But den com four, five gentellmen dat ave see all. Dey call de dronk peopell de coward, but dey are ver kind to us. Dey give moanee to mend de organ, and for de steamboat. Ah, yes, som Anglish ver good, but not all - no, no, not all - not at all. Dere lodge in our house a leetell boy dat ave vite mice and de hurdv-gurdy. Von night he com back and say dat de bad Anglish boy ave keel his mice. Poor leetell boy, he cry moosh. And de veeked breekmaker pelt Giuseppe and his monkey vid mud and old breek. Dey say Giuseppe also monkey. Ah, yes, som Anglish ver bad to poor Italien. Dey des-pise us  - as de black beetell. No von care moosh for de Italien but de priest and de good seester. Ah, yes, but a Protestant signora vonce ver good. I vas ver tire. I seat myself outside a church, and de young lady com out. She can speak my language. It make my heart dance to ear her talk so vell. She pity me, and ask me dis and ask me dat - ask all about myself. No von never before talk to me like dat. She talk to me like my moder, like my seester, dough she vas ver grand signora. My fader not vid me den, and she say Lon-don ver bad place, and I mus not go bout by myself - de veeked men and vomen vill steal [-185-] me for to do me arm. She talk like de good angel - like de clear vater in de contree running over de stone. She tell me vere she live, and bid me com see her, and I say "Yes." It make my heart glad to tink I see her again, and ear her talk. Ven my poor fader vas left me, I vas som time ver lonely in dis big, black, cold Lon-don. My poor fader alive den, but it vas ver sveet to my heart ven de kind Anglish lady talk dat vay. Den I say I com to her house nex day, and I run to my fader and tell him. I am tire no longer. But my fader say "No" - shake his ead ver moosh ven I say "Yes, yes, yes." He say de Anglish lady bad voman - vant to steal my soul - make me ereteek. I laugh and say "No, no, no," but my fader say "Yes, yes, yes." Again I say "No, no, no." I am ver angry for de dear Anglish lady. Den my fader turn ver sad, and say I vant to go avay and be reech by myself, and leave him all alone. Dat make me veep, and I promise I vill not go see de Anglish lady. After my poor fader die I go, but de kind Anglish lady gone avay, and dey tell me go avay fast, fast.
    Dis is ow my poor fader die. Som time ve go to de gentellmen dat paint de face and de rag. Dey are nice gentellmen - som. Dey make de joke and give us moanee to sit still and lift de arm dis vay, dat vay. Som time dey give us bread-an-chess and de pot-o'-beer, and drink out of him. Dey are ver foonee gentellmen. [-186-] Dey vear de velvet coat and de hat like de Itaien dat play de organ, and ver long hair and beard and dey smoke de pipe ver moosh. Dey are nice gentellmen - ver foonee, ver polite. Not like de oder Anglisli. Ah, but my poor fader seize de cold ven he com ome von night, ven de snow com down. He die - he kees me - he say "Ah, my poor girl," and den he die. 
    And now I am alone in Lon-don -  all alone!

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