There once was a child, and he was young, and tender, and wondered a great deal about many things, this child had a sister, and she was also young and tender, though made of sterner moral stuff than her sibling, who could sit for hours, and hours, gazing at fires, as they crackled and sizzled in the fireplace, in fact, gazing at all kinds of fires, and eventually (to the great misfortune of many), setting them.
Once, the two siblings skipped merrily along broken cobblestones, wondering at the fragile off-white daisies that stubbornly grew in their muddy back yard. But, alas, though both were initiated into the Govean way, only one elected to cling to the path, and so they had parted, the one to pursue her sainted calling, the other his incendiary lusts. From time to time Boodo would think about his sister and he did so now, imagining her bathed in the moonlight flooding through the factory skylight, dancing hither and thither, her dull, grey, eyes fixed reverentially on the testament of St. Gove held aloft in her small hands.
“Now gentlemen, let’s be clear about this, what we’re involved in ‘ere is the art of primitive accumulation”
“Primitive accumulation, the discovery of silver and gold (if there is any), and the extirpation of anything what might bring us a little bit of profit”
“The surgical removal of valuable stuff you dunce!….Thieving!”
“This ‘ere warren, what we intends to plunder, has one extremely, lucrative, piece of merchandise, what we needs to find specifically and extirpate, but there’s also this primitive accumulation what we needs to extirpate also, so that we may profit them pawnbrokers and also….eat!”
“Oh and what’s that then?”
“Ask ‘im” they all looked expectantly at Boodoo, Francis stifled a groan,
“Phosphorus, large quantities of it, enough to blow London sky high if we wanted to” muttered Boodo, If it was possible for human eyes to glow, Boodoo LeFevre’s eyes were doing so now as he contemplated the multifarious, and incendiary uses to which the said phosphorus might be put. He was in seventh heaven though he didn’t look it, and the fact that he didn’t look it made Frances uneasy, for Boodoo’s penchant for wandering off midway through a job, and then setting fires, burning factories down whilst his accomplices were still in them, was well known. Francis expressed his concerns about Boodoo to his mistress repeatedly, but all she did was chuckle as Bert his vagabond-in-arms was doing now.
“Oh Boodoo!” said he, the rotted stumps of his teeth in full view, “You are a card! Blow up London? There ain’t no money in it!”
Frances muttered a quick prayer under his breath, “Gentlemen our time is somewhat limited, the longer we spend here the more likely it is that we shall be detected. Feel free to steal anything you wish, in fact you may dismantle the entire factory” Francis eyes glittered with malevolence, “Just make sure you fulfill my client’s wishes to the last degree”
Boodoo and Bert glanced at each other and then at the little black page boy, ” Complained about our services ‘as she? Lady Grid-Iron we means. We’d like to see her hitch up her petticoats and climb up them ladders that’s hard work that is, then clambering back down them with them boxes full of phosphorus….”
“BISMILLAHIIIII!!!!!!” Frances hissed in frustration, he struggled to calm himself,” Gentlemen if I threw doubt on your abilities I humbly apologise”
Bert snickered, “That’s more like it. Boodooo where’s the phosphorus?”
“Storeroom at the back. You know Ella Ward what has the crumbly jaw?” a warning glance from Bert shut him up and they all quickly set to work, it took less than an forty minutes for them to remove sufficient quantities of phosphorus for indeed an hour was all they had. They were almost done when a sudden commotion alerted them to the fact that somebody else was moving about on the factory floor, hastening quickly into its darkest corners they unsheathed their bludgers and lay in wait.
“Beer, beer, duty-free beer!
Fill yourselves right up to here!
Drink a good deal of it-make a good meal of it,
Stick to your old-fashioned beer!
Don’t be afraid of it-drink till you’re made of it-
Now altogether a cheer!
Up with the sale of it-down with the pail of it-
Glorious, duty-free beer!”
The cheery little voice warbled and tottered its way through the verse, only occasionally faltering, as the grimy faced, teenage girl singing it, swung her hips first this way, then that, twirling her tattered and torn skirt with her grubby hands and throwing a flirtacious glance here and a shoulder there. For an instant Boodoo’s hands twitched and shook with the urge to simply knock her on the head, and get on with the business of removing the final load of phosphorus. But it was what she did next that altered his inclination. Her smile faltered, then crumpled altogether, and with her eyes gazing heavenward and a worn copy of the ‘King James Bible’ clasped to her chest, she uttered the following prayer,
“St. Gove, father to all of God’s desolate children, comfort my Dominic, St. Gove, as he flys to thy side, wrap thy loving arms about him”
“This is blasphemy!” muttered Francis yet even he was moved by the sobbing, supplications of the pale and grimy little match-stick girl whose rags gave off a phosphorescent glow. Boodoo stepped slowly out of the shadows so as not to frighten her, “It’s Wendy Woodbine, isn’t it? Wot you doing ere girl?” at the sight of Boodoo, Wendy, drew back, everybody knew creepy Boodooo,
“What you doing here?” she challenged him, her eyes casting about anxiously.
“Now now my girl” said Bert stepping out of the shadows, “There’s no need for that, he means you no harm”
“Uncle Bert!” Wendy Woodbine exclaimed,”Dominic’s dead Uncle Bert! Master Turple-Sleath made him go up a burning chimney and now he’s dead! He’s dead!” Francis,keeping to the shadows (for his mistress sake), murmured a speedy rakat for the poor, abused, and now apparently dead, chimney sweep’s soul. And when he was done, he said this, “You’ll need to take the girl to Madam Guacamoley’s music-hall and you need to do so now. Master LeFevre! Stay where you are! There’ll be no factory burning today! We will visit Master Turple-Sleath first, and then, well, we shall see”