“Will Scroggins cough up?” Emile asked with a smirk, they’d had no problem setting the fire, since old man Scroggins hadn’t fixed the roof. But he’d been thoroughly suspicious of the miraculous appearance of Boodoo and his fire cart, the instant the conflagration really got going.
“E’ will if he wants ‘is fires putting out” Bert replied, “What’s ‘e taking us for? Clambering up them ladders requires a great deal of expertise, if ‘e don’t like fires ‘e should fix ‘is roof, fancy a beer?”
“Nah, but I will take a glass of sherry, where’s Boodoo?”
Emile turned round to see Boodo delivering a swift kick to a pitiful looking young lad who’d crept quietly up behind him,
“Dig your sly fingers into my back pocket will you?! Hook it Milty!”
“But I was only thinking to ask you something”
“Oh was you? Thinking to ask me the way to New South Wales was you? You’d better HOOK IT!”
Milty slunk away his arms hanging temporarily by his sides as he wriggled his way through the crowded pub and out the door.
“You didn’t need to be doing that, Milty’s mum’s took bad, been laid up in bed with the cholera for the past week ”
“I bet. The water round ‘ere is minging and she has more than a fleeting acquaintance with gin laced beer that one”
“That’ll be the reduction in beer duty, Mrs Hayes ‘as been talking on it something rotten, ‘er custom has dropped at the nunnery.”
Boodoo chuckled, “Reckon she’ll lower ‘er prices?”
Emile shook his head, “Birch rods she uses, soaked in tubs of fresh cold water, to keep ’em pliant, costs a deal of money to do that. It’s a gent’s nunnery, cost-price ain’t in it; how’s your sister I ‘ere she’s gone into service”
Boodo shrugged, ” She’s cut me off. She says she has no liking for the company I keep and then of course there was the fire”
Emile’s blue eyes twinkled, he stroked his moustache pensively,”What? St Bacchanalia’s asylum? How much did you make on that one?”
Boodo frowned, he rubbed both his hands over the stubble on his head and considered,
” T’was a mere trifle…forty shillings”
Emile whistled, “forty shillings, well I never, there’s a great deal to be said for fixing the roof whilst the sun is shining, particularly when it comes to setting fires”
Boodoo shrugged, “Fancy a glass of sherry?”
Emile nodded “I’ve got a job for you which requires an increased skill set and a certain degree of expertise, if you’ve a mind to do it, we can discuss it over a glass”
Wading carefully through the crowded pub they made their way over to the bar where Boodo’s associate, Bert Marsh, was already seated with a glass of sherry. Sitting down alongside him they looked the pub over, business was booming without a doubt, though Emile couldn’t help but to note that few were drinking beer. For it was taken as a given, that if Lord Aberdeen’s government was giving anything away to the poor, he had to want something for it. And so here they all sat drinking sherry and gin paying twice over the odds what they would have on beer.
” Well, well my boys!” said Bert, his face all rosy and flushed after five glasses of sherry “You’ll never guess what Donny Doyle’s gone and done now! He’s definitely for the rope this time!They found his landlady laid up in the cellar…in pieces ”
“Will you keep it down?” Boodoo hissed, he glanced around “There might be beaks in ‘ere there’s no telling”
Bert nearly fell off his stool with laughing, “It’s a beak what told me! What’s you done with ‘er? They asks him, and you know what he replies? I was merely painting her miniature, if it’s anything to do with you” Bert looked fit to die from laughing, though it certainly wouldn’t have been a laughing matter for Danny’s landlady.
Emile and Boodoo looked at each other, Danny Doyle, coerced supplicant at the altar of Gove, ex-member of the Rouge Bull Posse and currently a miniature painter extraordinaire. If ever there was a man with a speedily increasing skill set it was him.