"I am convinced that he would not remain in either place, because he is possessed by an extraordinary terror of this person who ordered him to keep out of the way; in his ignorance, he believes this person to be everywhere, and cognizant of everything."
"I ask your pardon, sir," says Mr. George. "But you have not mentioned that party's name. Is it a secret, sir?"
"The boy makes it one. But his name is Bucket."
"Bucket the detective, sir?"
"The same man."
"The man is known to me, sir," returns the trooper after blowing out a cloud of smoke and squaring his chest, "and the boy is so far correct that he undoubtedly is a — rum customer." Mr. George smokes with a profound meaning after this and surveys Miss Flite in silence.
"Now, I wish Mr. Jarndyce and Miss Summerson at least to know that this Jo, who tells so strange a story, has reappeared, and to have it in their power to speak with him if they should desire to do so. Therefore I want to get him, for the present moment, into any poor lodging kept by decent people where he would be admitted. Decent people and Jo, Mr. George," says Allan, following the direction of the trooper's eyes along the entry, "have not been much acquainted, as you see. Hence the difficulty. Do you happen to know any one in this neighbourhood who would receive him for a while on my paying for him beforehand?"
As he puts the question, he becomes aware of a dirty-faced little man standing at the trooper's elbow and looking up, with an oddly twisted figure and countenance, into the trooper's face. After a few more puffs at his pipe, the trooper looks down askant at the little man, and the little man winks up at the trooper.
"Well, sir," says Mr. George, "I can assure you that I would willingly be knocked on the head at any time if it would be at all agreeable to Miss Summerson, and consequently I esteem it a privilege to do that young lady any service, however small. We are naturally in the vagabond way here, sir, both myself and Phil. You see what the place is. You are welcome to a quiet corner of it for the boy if the same would meet your views. No charge made, except for rations. We are not in a flourishing state of circumstances here, sir. We are liable to be tumbled out neck and crop at a moment's notice. However, sir, such as the place is, and so long as it lasts, here it is at your service."
With a comprehensive wave of his pipe, Mr. George places the whole building at his visitor's disposal.
"I take it for granted, sir," he adds, "you being one of the medical staff, that there is no present infection about this unfortunate subject?"
Allan is quite sure of it.
"Because, sir," says Mr. George, shaking his head sorrowfully, "we have had enough of that."
His tone is no less sorrowfully echoed by his new acquaintance. "Still I am bound to tell you," observes Allan after repeating his former assurance, "that the boy is deplorably low and reduced and that he may be — I do not say that he is — too far gone to recover."
"Do you consider him in present danger, sir?" inquires the trooper.
"Yes, I fear so."
"Then, sir," returns the trooper in a decisive manner, "it appears to me — being naturally in the vagabond way myself — that the sooner he comes out of the street, the better. You, Phil! Bring him in!"
Mr. Squod tacks out, all on one side, to execute the word of command; and the trooper, having smoked his pipe, lays it by. Jo is brought in. He is not one of Mrs. Pardiggle's Tockahoopo Indians; he is not one of Mrs. Jellyby's lambs, being wholly unconnected with Borrioboola-Gha; he is not softened by distance and unfamiliarity; he is not a genuine foreign-grown savage; he is the ordinary home-made article. Dirty, ugly, disagreeable to all the senses, in body a common creature of the common streets, only in soul a heathen. Homely filth begrimes him, homely parasites devour him, homely sores are in him, homely rags are on him; native ignorance, the growth of English soil and climate, sinks his immortal nature lower than the beasts that perish. Stand forth, Jo, in uncompromising colours! From the sole of thy foot to the crown of thy head, there is nothing interesting about thee.
He shuffles slowly into Mr. George's gallery and stands huddled together in a bundle, looking all about the floor. He seems to know that they have an inclination to shrink from him, partly for what he is and partly for what he has caused. He, too, shrinks from them. He is not of the same order of things, not of the same place in creation. He is of no order and no place, neither of the beasts nor of humanity.
"Look here, Jo!" says Allan. "This is Mr. George."
Jo searches the floor for some time longer, then looks up for a moment, and then down again.
"He is a kind friend to you, for he is going to give you lodging room here."
Jo makes a scoop with one hand, which is supposed to be a bow. After a little more consideration and some backing and changing of the foot on which he rests, he mutters that he is "wery thankful."
"You are quite safe here. All you have to do at present is to be obedient and to get strong. And mind you tell us the truth here, whatever you do, Jo."
"Wishermaydie if I don't, sir," says Jo, reverting to his favourite declaration. "I never done nothink yit, but wot you knows on, to get myself into no trouble. I never was in no other trouble at all, sir, 'sept not knowin' nothink and starwation."
"I believe it, now attend to Mr. George. I see he is going to speak to you."
"My intention merely was, sir," observes Mr. George, amazingly broad and upright, "to point out to him where he can lie down and get a thorough good dose of sleep. Now, look here." As the trooper speaks, he conducts them to the other end of the gallery and opens one of the little cabins. "There you are, you see! Here is a mattress, and here you may rest, on good behaviour, as long as Mr., I ask your pardon, sir" — he refers apologetically to the card Allan has given him — "Mr. Woodcourt pleases. Don't you be alarmed if you hear shots; they'll be aimed at the target, and not you. Now, there's another thing I would recommend, sir," says the trooper, turning to his visitor. "Phil, come here!"
Phil bears down upon them according to his usual tactics. "Here is a man, sir, who was found, when a baby, in the gutter. Consequently, it is to be expected that he takes a natural interest in this poor creature. You do, don't you, Phil?"
"Certainly and surely I do, guv'ner," is Phil's reply.
"Now I was thinking, sir," says Mr. George in a martial sort of confidence, as if he were giving his opinion in a council of war at a drum-head, "that if this man was to take him to a bath and was to lay out a few shillings in getting him one or two coarse articles — "
"Mr. George, my considerate friend," returns Allan, taking out his purse, "it is the very favour I would have asked."