Join date: 11 Jun. 2022


When he had placed the money from the bag on the table, Mr Kean separated each single coin with his forefinger, then after counting them he raised his eyes without lifting his head and said, ‘You mean to tell me this is the result of a morning’s work?’

‘It was Saltbank Row and Pilbey Street’

‘I know damned well it was Saltbank Row and Pilbey Street, it’s always Saltbank Row and Pilbey Street on a Saturday, but what I’m saying to you is, do you mean to tell me that’s all you got out of them?’

Rory moved one lip over the other before replying, It’s always the same near Christmas.’

‘Look!’ The thick neck was thrust forward, then the head went back on the shoulders and Mr Kean directed an enraged stare on to Rory’s grim face as he cried, ‘One gives me family histories, the other festival dates as excuses. Now look, I’m telling you they’re not good enough, neither one nor the other, Christmas or no Christmas. If that sum’—he now dug his finger on to one coin after another—’if it isn’t doubled at the next collection then there’ll be a lot of barrows needed to shift their muck. You tell them that from me. And that’s final.’ Again he stabbed the coins. ‘Double that amount or it’s the bums for the lot of ’em.’

When Rory turned abruptly from the table Mr Kean barked at him, ‘Answer me when I’m speaking to you!’

Rory stopped, but it was a few seconds before he turned to face Mr Kean again, and then he said slowly, ‘Yes, sir.’

Seconds again passed before Mr Kean said, ‘There’s going to be changes here, Connor,’ and again Rory said, ‘Yes, sir.’

‘Get yourself out.’

The buttons on Rory’s coat strained as he drew in a deep breath before turning round and leaving the room, closing the door after him.

John George was standing by his narrow, high desk. A little colour had returned to his face and he was about to speak when the outer door opened and they both looked towards it and at Miss Charlotte Kean.



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