Victorian London - Publications - Social Investigation/Journalism - Episodes in an Obscure Life, by Richard Rowe, 1871 - I - Introductory - II - 'Little Creases'

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EPISODES IN AN OBSCURE LIFE

Strahan & Co., Publishers
56, Ludgate Hill, London
1871

EPISODES IN AN OBSCURE LIFE

STRAHAN & CO., PUBLISHERS
56 LUDGATE HILL, LONDON
1871

 

[-1-]

INTRODUCTORY.

THE publication of these Experiences was not sought by me. It was the suggestion of the friend who found out that I had kept a diary,  got hold of it, and persuaded me to let him make extracts from it, and then further persuaded me to expand those extracts into something like literary shape; not (as he was candid enough to tell me) because he thought that there was anything remarkable in the diarist, but because the people amongst whom I have spent the greater part of my life - normal as they have long seemed to me - seemed out-of-the-common to him, Of course, however, I trust that in letting these records be taken from their obscurity I have not been influenced by vanity, or other unworthy motive. Vanity, though, do I say? In spite of the self-flattery with which the most secret diaries are written, trying to persuade the writer through his eyes (when there is no one else to be deceived) that he is a better [-2-] man than his heart tells him that he is, even my own confessions will show that I have small reason to be vain.
    Young people, I suppose, would reckon me old. At any rate, I remember blooming young brides who are now grandmothers, and children that I have nursed have now children of their own; but (if any man can read his own heart) I may honestly say that no proffer of preferment would tempt me to leave the squalid district in which my hairs have grown grey. I should like to lay them within the shadow of the mother-church in which I began my East- End labours. Wise sanitary arrangements have rendered this impossible, but I hope to be buried in the Tower Hamlets' Cemetery. In a fluctuating population like that in which I have laboured, personal ties are very often suddenly snapped; but I have a personal attachment to the type of people who have been so long my neighbours, and it would gratify me to know that my old body would sleep within the circle of the smoke and noise in which they spend their troublous lives.
    It would be affectation - falsehood - to insinuate that I was always thus contented. Clergymen, like other men, have their ambitions, and, perhaps, have as much justification for them, and quite as honest a justification, as laymen have, in the hope of 'securing a sphere of greater usefulness.' But then clergymen are no better judges than other men of what is really for their good. I feel now (if I may say so without irreverence to God's government) that it would have been a great mistake if, in the days when I was by no means inclined to utter a coy nolo praeferri, I had obtained a benefice. I was [-3-]  meant to be a curate amongst struggling people, if, without conceit, I may suppose that I was specially meant to be anything; and I am thankful that I found this out early enough in my career to be able to throw full bodily strength, as well as, I trust, my whole heart's devotion, into curate's labours, without looking upon them as a parenthetical, painful preparation for rest (in this world)  - otium cum dignitate. Many a heart-ache have those labours caused me, and yet I have found in them an exceeding great reward.
    They have been obscure enough, but I would humbly offer a prayer that God may in his goodness bless this humble record of them to the furtherance of the Gospel  - peace on earth, good-will amongst men - harbinger and antepast of heavenly joys.

[-4-]

II.

'LITTLE CREASES'

WHEN I first came up to town, it was to become junior curate of one of the East End's mother-churches. I lodged in a baker's first-floor rooms. The residence could boast of some 'amenities.' When I looked out of my window in rainy weather, I could see - thanks to the under-ground bake-house  - the pavement beneath a dry patch in the midst of sloppiness on all sides; and the snow melted there almost as soon as it fell. But, per contra, the sickly-sour scent of the new bread was at times almost stifling, and the floury black-beetles marched up in such squadrons from the bake-house, that I was forced to keep a hedge-hog; and the antidote turned out to be almost as great a nuisance as the bane. I am ashamed to say that at first my temper was ruffled by these trivial annoyances. Just because there was nothing to boast of in bearing them, they annoyed all the more. It was [-5-] 'Little Creases' who shamed me out of my puerile pettishness.
    One sultry summer night, when I was still quite a novice in London, the beetles had kept me awake by crawling over me, and dropping from the bed-curtains like windfall fruit. In the early morning the scent of the hot bread came steaming up the stairs, and to get the nearest approach to fresh air within my power, I half-dressed and threw up one of my sitting-room windows. As I was leaning out of it, the police-sergeant, who lodged in the room above, clumped up the staircase. 'Morning, sir,' he said, stopping at the open door. 'Up early. Can't sleep, eh? Well, it is rather close; but just you look at that little gal cuttin' along there. This is a palace to where she has been a-sleepin', an' yet she's off to the market pipin' like a little lark. She's thankful for the 'eat, she is. It's bitter work for her when she's to turn out in the winter mornin's. I do pity that poor little soul. I've little gals of my own. Little Creases she's known as, and she's been at the cress-sellin', off an' on, this two years, though she ain't eight yet. Creases! She don't look much like a Croesis, do she, sir?' and, with a grin at his pun, the pitying policeman mounted towards his bed.
    The little girl to whom he had called my attention wore a fragment of a black straw bonnet, with gaping thinks in its plait, through which her matted curls bulged like bows of dirty silk. A limp, ragged, mud-hued calico frock reached to where the calves ought to have been in her bare, skinny little legs. That was all her dress. In [-6-] one hand she carried a rusty iron tray, thumping upon it, tambourine-fashion, with the other, as an accompaniment to 'The days when we went gipsying,' which she sang, as she trotted along, in a clear, sweet little voice that justified the police-sergeant in likening her to a lark. At the end of the street she put the empty tray upon her head, and merrily shrilling out, 'Pies! pies all 'ot! all 'ot!' turned the corner and disappeared.
    The next time I saw the sergeant I asked him where Little Creases lived. 'Bottom house in Bateman's Rents; that's Miss Creases's address when she's at home,' was his answer. I can't rightly remember just now which room it is, but you ask any one about there where Little Creases dosses, and they'll show you, sir. She lives with her granny. They're a rough lot down there, but they've some sort of a respect both for the old gal an' the little 'un, an' they won't insult you, sir, if they think you wants to do 'em a kindness. I'll go with you an' welcome, if you like, when I'm off; but they'll think more on ye, sir, if you don't go with one of us. No, sir, the Force ain't popular, and yet it's only our duty that we try to do; and monkey's allowance we get for doin' on it. If you want to ketch the little un in and awake, you'd better go somewheres between six and seven in the evenin'. The little un has to tramp a weary way to sell her stuff;. an' she's glad enough, I'll go bail, to go to her 'by-by,' as my littlest calls it, when she's had her grub. You know your way to the Rents, sir? Second turnin' to the left, arter you pass the Duke o' York. You can't mistake it, sir - the name's up jist inside the archway.'
    [-7-] On the following evening I found my way to Bateman's Rents. The archway was almost choked with gasping loungers, who looked at first very sullenly at me; but when I inquired after Little Creases, and used the very term which the sergeant had taught me - much as a Moravian missionary might use his first conciliatory bit of Esquimese - the loungers relaxed into a general grin. 'She've jest come in, sir,' said a hulking rough, leaning against a post. 'Jim, go and show the parson where Little Creases dosses,' and at this repetition of the friends-making pass-word there was another general grin.
    Jim, a shock-headed youth, whose dress consisted of a one-sleeved shirt and a pair of trousers with a leg and a half, upheld by a single brace of greasy twine, speedily piloted me to the bottom of the Rents, and up a filthy, creaking staircase to the first-floor back of the last house. 'Creases!' he shouted, as we stopped at the open door of a dark little dungeon of a room, ' 'ere's a parson a-lookin' arter ye. Whatever 'as you been a-doin' on?'
    The only window of the room gave on a high dead wall within arm's-length of it; and though half of the window-panes were broken, the room on that hot evening was very close as well as dark. It was very dirty also, and so was the parchment-skinned old woman who sat crouching, from the force of habit, over the little rusty, empty grate. Opposite her sat Little Creases, on the floor. The old woman's half-backed arm-chair, and the low bedstead on which she and her granddaughter slept together, were almost all the furniture. The scantiness of the bed-clothes did not matter so much in that sultry  [-8-] weather; but, hot as it was, it almost made one shiver to think of lying under them in winter.
    'Yes, sir,' said the old woman when I had seated myself on the bed, and stated why I had come, 'Bessie an' me 'as 'ad our tea. No, we don't light a fire this time o' year. It's heasy to git a potful o' bilin' water somewheres or other - our pot don't take much to fill it. It ain't much the neighbours can do for us, but what they can they will, I must say that. No, I don't think I could git any on 'em to clean up my room. They hain't got the time, an' if they 'ad they hain't got the water.'
    I was young then, and had a weakness for giving a professional turn to conversation; pluming myself on my clerical cleverness when I had lugged in a text of Scripture, apropos of anything - more often, in fact, of nothing. I began to talk about the woman of Samaria and the water of life, in a way that I could not help feeling was hazy even to myself. The old woman listened to me for a time in sulkily patient silence, although plainly without the slightest comprehension of what I meant. I was having my say; she thought, and she would get hers by and by, and would get all the more out of it, if she 'behaved proper' whilst I was talking. She was full of complaints, when her turn came; especially at the hardship of her having to support a great girl like Bessie, although, so far as I could make out, Bessie contributed at least her full share of the cost of the old woman's room-keeping. Finding that I had small chance of hearing anything about Little Creases, except the amount of bread she ate, in her self-contained grandmother's pre-[-9-]sence, I proposed that Bessie should visit me at my lodgings next morning; and to this arrangement the grandmother grudgingly consented, when I had promised to make good the loss which the little girl would incur through giving up her work.
    I was amused to see how I sank in the 'social' estimation of my new acquaintances when they learnt that I was lodging at a baker's. 'Wilson' was a very rich man in their opinion, and 'made good bread, an' guv fairish weight - better than the English bakers, though he was a Scotchman;' but Bessie and Granny had at times bought bread of Mr Wilson, and therefore looked upon themselves as his patronesses, and at me as a 'kind o' make-believe sort o' gen'leman' to be lodging on his first-floor. They evidently felt comforted when they heard that Little Creases was to knock at the private door.
    I was looking out for her when she knocked. Had I not been, the 'slavey' most likely would have ordered her off as 'a himpident match-gal as wouldn't take No.'
    Bessie was rather shy at first, but when she was asked what she would like to have, she suggested, 'Wilson sells stunnin' brandy-snaps,' with a glibness which showed that she had the answer ready on her tongue. Whilst she was munching her anticipated dainties, I got a little of her history out of her, which I will put together here, as nearly as I can in her own words:-
    'My name's Bessie - ye called me so yerself. Some calls me Little Creases, an' some jist Creases- 'cos I sells 'em. Yes, Bessie,  I s'pose, is my Chris'n name. I don't know as I've got another name. Granny 'as. Marther's [-10-] 'er Chris'n name, an' sometimes folks calls 'er Missis Jude - sometimes they calls 'er Hold Winegar, but that ain't horfen. No, sir, they don't call 'er that to 'er face. Granny 'ud give it back to 'em if they did, an' they ain't a bad lot - not them as we lives with. No, I can't remember when I fust come to live with Granny - 'ow could I? I was jist a babby, Granny says. Oh, Granny does whatever she can - she ain't a lie-a-bed. Sometimes she goes hout cheerin' now, but she ain't strong enough for that, an' the work an' what she gits to drink makes 'er precious cross when she comes 'ome. Yes, I love Granny, though she do take hall I arns. She've a right to, I s'pose. She says so, anyways, cos she took me when father and mother died, an' father 'ad wexed 'er. No, I can't remember nuffink o' them - an' I don't see as it matters much. There's kids in the Rents as as got fathers an' mothers as is wuss hoff than me. Well, I s'pose, when I grows up, I can spend what I gits accord-in' to my own mind. But I 'on't forgit Granny. She may growl, but she never whopped me - an' some on 'em does get whopped. Yes, sir, I knows I ought to be thankful to Granny for takin' care on me afore I could git my hown livin' - didn't I say so? No, I can't read, an' I can't write. I never went to school. What's the good o' that to folks like me as 'as to arn their livin'? I know 'ow much I oughter give a 'and for my creases, an' then 'ow to split 'em up inter bunches, an' I'm pickin' up the prices o' hother thinx at the markets, an' that's hall a gal like me need know. Readin' an' writin' may be hall wery well for little gals as can't 'elp theirselves, but I [-11-] don't see as it would be hany 'elp to me. Yes, I likes to look at picturs sometimes in the shops, but I can make out what they means - them as I cares about - wi'out readin'. Where does I git my creases? Why, at the markit. Where else should I git 'em? Yes, it is cold gittin up in the dark, an' the creases feels shivery when you git a harmful, when the gas is a-burnin'. But what's the good o' growlin' when you've got to do it? An' the women as sells 'em is horfen kinder in the winter, though they looks half-perished theirselves, tuckin' their 'ands under their harms, wi' the frost on 'em. One on 'em last winter guv me a fair markit-'and when I 'adn't got no stock-money, an' the browns to git a cup o' cawfee an' a bread-and-butter. Golly, that did do me good, for it was hawful cold, an' no mistake. If it 'adn't been for the pain in 'em, my toes an' fingers seemed jist as if they didn't belong to me. But it's good fun this time o' year. We 'ave our larks when we're a-pumpin' on the creases, an' a-settin' on the steps tyin' 'em up. Rushes we ties 'em with. No, we 'avn't to pay for the rushes - they're gived us by them as sells the creases. Yes, I think I've seed rushes a-growin'-in 'Ackney Marshes - but there wasn't much in that, as I could see. I'd rather be where there was houses, if that's country. It's sloppier than the streets is. No, I don't go to church. Granny says that she used to go, but they never give her nufflnk, so she dropped it. 'Sides, Sunday's when I sells most. Folks likes a relish a-Sundays for their breakfastes an' teases; an' when I ain't a-walkin' about, I likes to git a snooze. 'Sides, I hain't no clothes fit to go to church in. No, an' [-12-] I don't go to theaytres an' that, nayther - I sh'd like to if I'd got the browns. I've 'eared say that it's as fine as the Queen a-hopenin' Parli'ment - the Forty Thieves at the Pawilion is. Yes, I've seed the Queen once. I was in the Park when she come along wi' them fine gen'lemen on 'ossback a-bangin' away at the drums an' that; I s'pose them was the Parli'ment. I never was so far afore, an' I ain't been since, an' I was wery tired, but I squeeged in among the folks. Some on 'em was swells, an' some on 'em was sich as me, an' some on 'em was sich as shopkeepers.One hold feller says to me, says he, "What do you want 'ere, my little gal?" "I want to see the Queen, an' Prince Halbert, an' the Parli'ment gen'lemen," says I. "I'm a Parli'ment gen'leman," sags he, "but I ain't a goin' down to-day." I worn't a-goin' to let 'im think he could do me like that, for he worn't dressed nigh so smart as Wilson a-Sundays. "You're chaffin'," says I; "why hain't you got a 'oss, an' a goold coat, an' summat to blow?" Then he busted out larfin' fit to kill isself; and says he, "Oh, you should 'ear me in Parli'ment a-blowin' my own trumpet, an' see me a-ridin' the 'igh 'oss there." I think he was 'alf-silly, but he was wery good-natur'd - silly folks horfen is. He lifted me hup right over the people's 'eads, and I see the Queen wi' my own heyes, as plain as I see you, sir, an' Prince Halbert, too, a-bowin' away like them himages in the grocers' winders. I thought it was huncommon queer to see the Queen a-bowin'. I'd 'spected that all on us would a-'ad to bob down as hif we was playin' 'oney-pots when she come by. But, law, there she was a-bowin' away to [-13-] heverybody, an' so was Prince Halbert. I knew 'im from the picturs, though he didn't seem 'arf so smart as the gen'leman that druv the 'osses. What a nice-lookin' gen'leman, though, that Prince Halbert is! I do believe that himage in the barber's winder in Bishopsgate, with the goold sheet on, ain't 'arf as 'ansome. Wisher may die hif he didn't bow to me! The queer hold cove I was a-settin' on, guy me 'is 'at to shake about like the other folks - law, 'ow they did shake their 'ats an' their 'anker chers, an' beller as if they'd bust theirselves! An' Prince Halbert grinned at me kind-like; an' then he guv the Queen a nudge, an' she grinned, an' guv me a bow too, an' the folks all turned round to look at me, an' I felt as hif I was a swell. The hold cove was huncommon pleased, an' he guv me a 'arf-a-bull, so Granny said he was a real Parli'ment gen'leman arter all.'
    'And what did you do with the money, Bessie?' I asked.
    'Guv it to Granny.'
    'But didn't you get any of it?'
    'Oh, yes. Granny'd a blow out o'trotters, an' she guv me one, an' huncommon good it were.'
    A little girl who had sold water-cresses for two years, with no more memorable treat than a trotter, could not be injured, I thought, by a little indulgence. If I confirmed Bessie in her opinion that, in the complimentary words she had already used in reference to me, I wasn't 'sich a bad sort, arter all,' I might be able to 'get hold' of her, and eventually do her more good than giving her a little passing pleasure. Still I was at a loss how to [-14-] carry out my plan of giving her a day's treat; so I asked her to choose her entertainment for herself.
    'Well,' she answered promptly, 'I should like to 'ave some more to heat bimeby;' and then, after a minute's pause, 'an' I should like to go up the Moniment. I've horfen seed the folks at the top like rats in a cage; an' I should like to 'ave a look down through them railin's, too.'
    Little Creases' costume, although it attracted little attention to herself, was likely to make a clerical companion stared at, even in London's crowded streets, where men brush past each other never heeding,- frowning, and laughing, and even talking, as if they were in a dark, double-locked room alone, instead of publishing their secrets of character, at any rate, in broad noon, to the one m ten thousand who may have leisure or inclination to notice them. I thought, however, that it would be a bad beginning with Bessie, if I wished to secure her confidence, to seem to be ashamed of her clothes. So I got my hat, and proposed that we should start at once. When I took hold of her hand outside the front door, I could see that she thought that in my case, as in that of her parliamentary friend in the Mall, wit was not equal to good-will. We were chaffed a little as we walked along. A policeman asked me if I wanted to give the little girl in charge, and when I answered that the little girl was taking a walk with me, looked more than half inclined to take me into custody myself. 'Oh, he's a-doin' the good Samaritan dodge in public, Bobby,' explained a sneering on-looker; 'lettin' 'is light shine afore men. He don't mean no more mischief than that. I know the ways o' [-15-] them parsons. They'd be precious deep, if they knew how.' I must confess that this gloss upon my behaviour did annoy me, because I felt that I had laid myself open to it. But is it not a satire on our Christianity that we should think it 'very odd' to see a person in whole clothes talking to one in rags, unless the continuously clad person be either bullying or benefiting the intermittently clad from the top of a high cliff of universally admitted social superiority?
    I do not know who takes the money at the Monument now. At the time of which I write the money-taker was a very morose old fellow, who seemed to regret that the gallery had been caged in. 'You can't fling her over,' he growled, as we began to mount the weary, winding stairs.
    'Did you hear what he said, Bessie?' I asked, with a laugh.
    'Oh yes, I 'eared 'im,' little Creases answered gravely; 'but I ain't afeared. I'd scratch so as ye couldn't, if ye wanted to, an' it ain't sich as you does thinx to git put in the papers. It's chaps as can fight does them kind o' thinx.'
    For a wonder, the day being so fine, we had the gallery at first to ourselves. 'That's a buster,' said Bessie, as she mounted the last step, 'I'll 'ave a blow now. Law, 'ow my legs do ache, an' I feel dizzy like. I shouldn't ha' been 'arf so tired if I'd been a-goin' my rounds.'
    'And yet you wanted to come up, Bessie?'
    'Well, I know I did - helse I shouldn't ha' come.'
    'There are other people besides you, Bessie, that want [-16-] to get up in the world, and then, when they do get up, are half sorry that they took the trouble. So you may be content to carry about your tray.'
    But analogical moralizing of this kind (as I might have expected, had not those been the salad days of my surpliced life) shot quite over Bessies head.
    'Who said I worn't content?' she asked, in angry bewilderment. What's the Moniment got to do wi' creases? I shall work them till I can get sumfink better.'
    Bessie was more interested when I explained to her the meaning of the 'goold colly-flower,' as she called the gilt finial; but she was very much disappointed when she was told that the Great Fire after all had not been caused by Roman Catholics. 'They'd a done it, if they could, though,' she commentated. I can't abide them wild Hirish - they's so savage, an' they's so silly. There's Blue Anchor Court close by the Rents as is full a' Romans, an' they's al'ays a-pitchin' inter each hother wi'out knowin' what's it all about. Law, 'ow they do send the tongses an' pokers flyin' of a Saturday night! An' the women is wuss than the men, wi' their back hair a-'anging' down like a ass's tail. They'll tear the gownd hoff a woman's back, and shy bricks, an' a dozen on 'em will go in at one, hif he's a-fightin' wi' their pal an' is a-lickin' on 'im, or heven hif 'e ain't - an' the men's as bad for that. Yes, the Henglish fights, but they fights proper, two and two, an' they knows what they's fightin' for, an' they doesn't screech like them wild Hirish - they's wuss than the cats. No, it ain't horfen as Hirish hinter-[-17-]feres wi' Henglish hif the Henglish doesn't worret 'em. Why should they? What call 'as sich as them to come hover 'ere to take the bread hout o' the mouth of them as 'as a right to 't?'
    Bessie's superciliously uncharitable comments on Irish character were suddenly interrupted by an expression of  surprise at the number of churches she saw rising around her through the sun-gilt grey smoke. 'Law, what a sight o' churches ! Blessed if that ain't St Paul's!' When Bessie had once found an object which she could recognize, she soon picked out others that she was familiar with - the Mansion House, the Bank, the Exchange, the 'Gate,' as she called Billingsgate, the Custom House, the Tower, &c. 'Law, 'ow queer it looks hup 'ere!' she constantly kept on exclaiming. The sensation of seeing a stale sight from a novel stand-point seemed to give her nore pleasurable excitement than anything she had yet experienced on this to her eventful day. Instead of leaving her to enjoy her treat, and the new experience to teach, on however small a scale, its own lesson, I foolishly again attempted to moralize.
    'Yes, Bessie,' I said, 'things and people, too, look very differently according to the way they are looked at.  You have been taught to hate the Irish, but if you could see them as some people see them, perhaps you would  like them - if you could see them as God sees them, from a higher place than the Monument, you would love them.'
    'Granny says they're nasty beasts,' was Bessie's sullen answer.
    'Yes, Granny has been taught to call them so, just as [-18-]  she teaches you; but if Granny, too, would look at them differently she would speak of them differently.'
    'I don't see as Hirish is much worth lookin' at, any 'ow.'     
    'Well, but Bessie, you said the churches, and the shops, and so on, that you've seen all your life, looked so different up here.'
    'They don't look a bit nicer,' Bessie answered sharply, having at last got a dim glimpse of my meaning. 'I'd rayther see the shop windows than them nasty chimbley pots;' and, fairly floored, I once more desisted from my very lame attempt at teaching by analogy.
    'Now, the river do look nice,' Bessie went on in triumph, as if pursuing her argument. 'But law, what mites o' thinx the bridges looks hup 'ere! My! hif that ain't a steamer, an' there's a sojer hin it, I can see is red coat. It look jist like a fly a-puffin' about in a sarcer. Look at them barges, sir, wi' the brown sails, ain't that nice? Hif I worn't a gal, I'd go in a barge. It 'ud be so jolly to doss a-top o' the 'ay an' stror an' that, and not 'ave no walkin'. Ah, them's the docks - there where the ships is as hif they couldn't git hout. Yes, I've been in the docks - not horfen. They stops sich as me, and hif you do git hinside, they feels you hover when you comes out, as hif ye'd been a-priggin'. No, I never did nuffink o' that; Granny oodn't let me if I'd a mind, an' I shouldn't like to git locked up in the station-'us. Blessed hif the 'osses doesn't look as hif they was a-crawlin' on their bellies like black beadles! An' there's a gal ashakin' a carpet in that yard, an' now there's a cove [-19-] a-kissin' on 'er! He's cut in now, cos an old ooman 'as come hoot. That's the gal's missis, I guess, but I don't think she seed 'im. Law, what jolly larks you might 'ave on this 'ere moniment, watchin' the folks without their knowin' on it. If they was to put a slop hup are he could see 'em a-priggin', but then he couldn't git down time enough to nail 'em.'
    'But God can always see us, Bessie, and reach us, too, when we do wrong.'
    'Then why don't He? What's the good o' the pollis?  P'r'aps, though, God don't like to see the bobbies a-drivin' poor folk about. Granny says they're hawful 'ard on poor folk.'
    I had again been unfortunate. Of course it would have been easy to answer poor little Bessie with satisfaction to myself; but as I felt that it would be only with  satisfaction to myself, I was the more dissatisfied that in my prentice attempts to sow faith in divine government, I should have generated doubts. As the best thing I  could do under the circumstances, I tried to remove Bessie's prejudice against the police as a body, although  I was disagreeably conscious that, owing to my clumsiness, I had mixed up the station-'us' and Providence in a very bewildering fashion in my little hearer's mind. 
    'Are the police hard to you, Bessie?' I asked.
    'Some on 'em is - wary,' she answered.
    'Well, Bessie, it was Sergeant Hadfield, that lodges at Mr Wilson's, who told me where to find you. He spoke quite kindly about you. If it hadn't been for him, you wouldn't have had your fun up here.' 
    [-20-] 'I never said nufflnk agin 'im.'
    'But if one policeman is kind, why shouldn't others be?'
    'P'r'aps they may be, but there's a many as ain't.'
    Bessie was a very obstinate little reasoner; and when I parted from her in Monument Yard, I could not help contrasting with bitter humiliation the easiness of calling and fancying one's self a Christian teacher of Christianity, and the difficulty of acquitting one's self as such. Little Creases will turn up again in these loosely strung jottings. I will only add here in reference to her, that I walked home to my lodgings puzzling over those words of the child-loved Lover of children, 'For of such is the kingdom of heaven.' There seemed somehow an incongruity between them and the precociously shrewd, and yet lamentably ignorant, little Bessie; and yet I felt that the poor little Londoner must be as dear to Jesus as any Judaean boy or girl He ever blessed.