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grate, to make two iron pots boil. There
was some fish in one, and there were some
potatoes in the other. The flare of the
burning wood enabled me to see a table
and a broken chair or so, and some old
cheap crockery ornaments about the chimneypiece.
It was not until I had spoken
with the woman a few minutes that I saw
a horrible brown heap on the floor in a
corner, which, but for previous experience
in this dismal wise, I might not have
suspected to be "the bed." There was
something thrown upon it, and I asked
what that was?

"'Tis the poor craythur that stays here,
Sur, and 'tis very bad she is, and 'tis very
bad she's been this long time, and 'tis better
she'll never be, and 'tis slape she doos all
day, and 'tis wake she doos all night, and
'tis the lead, Sur."

"The what?"

"The lead, Sur. Sure 'tis the lead-mills,
where the women gets took on at eighteen-
pence a day, Sur, when they makes applicaytion
early enough and is lucky and
wanted, and 'tis lead-pisoned she is, Sur, and
some of them gits lead-pisoned soon and
some of them gets lead-pisoned later, and
some but not many niver, and 'tis all according
to the constitooshun, Sur, and some
constitooshuns is strong and some is weak,
and her constitooshun is lead-pisoned bad
as can be, Sur, and her brain is coming out
at her ear, and it hurts her dreadful, and
that's what it is and niver no more and
niver no less, Sur."

The sick young woman moaning here,
the speaker bent over her, took a bandage
from her head, and threw open a back
door to let in the daylight upon it, from
the smallest and most miserable backyard
I ever saw.

"That's what cooms from her, Sur, being
lead-pisoned, and it cooms from her night
and day the poor sick craythur, and the
pain of it is dreadful, and God he knows
that my husband has walked the sthreets
these four days being a labourer and is
walking them now and is ready to work
and no work for him and no fire and no
food but the bit in the pot, and no more
than ten shillings in a fortnight, God be
good to us, and it is poor we are and dark
it is and could it is indeed!"

Knowing that I could compensate myself
thereafter for my self-denial, if I saw fit, I
had resolved that I would give nothing in
the course of these visits. I did this to
try the people. I may state at once that
my closest observation could not detect any
indication whatever of an expectation that
I would give money; they were grateful to
be talked to, about their miserable affairs,
and sympathy was plainly a comfort to them;
but they neither asked for money in any
case, nor showed the least trace of surprise
or disappointment or resentment at my
giving none.

The woman's married daughter had by
this time come down from her room on
the floor above, to join in the conversation.
She herself had been to the lead-mills very
early that morning to be "took on," but
had not succeeded. She had four children,
and her husband, also a water- side labourer
and then out seeking work, seemed in no
better case as to finding it, than her
father. She was English, and by nature
of a buxom figure and cheerful. Both in
her poor dress, and in her mother's, there
was an effort to keep up some appearance
of neatness. She knew all about the sufferings
of the unfortunate invalid, and all
about the lead-poisoning, and how the
symptoms came on, and how they grew:
having often seen them. The very smell
when you stood inside the door of the
works was enough to knock you down, she
said, yet she was going back again to get
"took on." What could she do? Better be
ulcerated and paralysed for eighteenpence a
day, while it lasted, than see the children

A dark and squalid cupboard in this
room, touching the back door and all manner
of offence, had been for some time the
sleeping-place of the sick young woman.
But the nights being now wintry, and the
blankets and coverlets "gone to the leaving
shop," she lay all night where she lay all
day, and was lying then. The woman of
the room, her husband, this most miserable
patient, and two others, lay on the one
brown heap together for warmth.

"God bless you, sir, and thank you!"
were the parting words from these people
gratefully spoken toowith which I left
this place.

Some streets away, I tapped at another
parlour door on another ground floor.
Looking in, I found a man, his wife, and
four children, sitting at a washing stool
by way of table, at their dinner of bread
and infused tea-leaves. There was a very
scanty cinderous fire in the grate by
which they sat, and there was a tent bedstead
in the room with a bed upon it and
a coverlet. The man did not rise when I
went in, nor during my stay, but civilly
inclined his head on my pulling off my hat,

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