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‘Aye, see you later, Janie,’ he replied before entering the kitchen and closing the door behind him and replying to a barrage of greetings.

Having hung his coat and hard hat on the back of the door he took his place at the table, and Rory asked briefly, ‘What went wrong?’

‘Oh, the usual . . . . You playing cards?’ The obvious statement was a polite way of telling the company that he didn’t wish to discuss the reason for his unexpected presence among them tonight in and they accepted this onlinecasinosvizzera.com.

‘Want to come in?’

‘What do you think?’

As John George and Rory exchanged a tight smile Bill Waggett said, ‘You’d better tighten your belt, lad, an’ hang on to your trousers ’cos he’s in form the night. Cleared me out of monkey nuts.’

‘No!’

‘Oh aye. We were sayin’ he should go to America and make his fortune on one of them boats.’

‘He needn’t go as far as that, Mr Waggett, there’s plenty of games goin’ on in Shields and across the water, and they tell me that fortunes are made up in Newcastle.’

‘Gamblin’! That’s all anybody hears in this house, gamblin’. Do you want a mug of tea?’ Lizzie was bending over John George, and he turned his long thin face up to her and smiled at her kindly as he answered, ‘It would be grand, Lizzie.’

‘Have you had anything to eat?’

‘I’ve had me tea.’

‘When was that?’

‘Oh. Oh, not so long ago.’

‘Have you a corner for a bite?’

‘I’ve always got a corner for a bite, Lizzie.’ Again he smiled kindly at her, and she pushed him roughly, saying, ‘Death warmed up, that’s what you look like. Good food’s lost on you. Where does it go? You haven’t a pick on your bones.’

‘Thoroughbreds are always lean, Lizzie.’

As she turned and walked away towards the scullery she said, ‘They should have put a brick on yer head when you were young to make you grow sideways instead of up.’

The game proceeded with its usual banter until the door opened again and Janie entered, fully dressed now for the road in a long brown cloth coat to which was attached a shoulder cape of the same material. It was an elegant coat and like all the clothes she now wore had been passed on to her from her mistress. Her hat, a brown velour, with a small flat brim, was perched high on the top of her head, and its colour merged with the shining coils of her hair. The hat was held in place by two velvet ribbons coming from beneath the brim and tied under her chin. She had fine woollen gloves on her hands. The only articles of her apparel which did not point to taste were her boots. These were heavy-looking and buttoned at the side. It was very unfortunate, Jane considered, that her feet should be two sizes bigger than her mistress’s, yet she always comforted herself with the thought that her skirt and coat covered most parts of her boots and there was ever only the toes showing, except when she was crossing the muddy roads and the wheels of the carts and carriages were spraying clarts all over the place.

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