She at once told herself that she could not touch a penny piece of it, indeed the touch of it would seem as if it burnt her fingers. Her present concern was to get away as far from the money as possible.
“’Ow much can I ’ave?” cried Miss Ewer, who was on her knees greedily picking up the coins.
“All? Gawd’s trewth!”
“Every bit. Only let me go; at once.”
“’Ere, if you’re so generous, ain’t you got no more?” said Miss Ewer, the while her eyes shone greedily.
“I’ll see,” said Mavis, as she thoroughly turned out her pockets.
Another gold piece fell out; also, a bunch of violets.
“Vilets!” laughed Miss Ewer.
“Don’t touch those. No one else shall have them,” cried Mavis, as she wildly snatched them.
“You’re welcome to that rubbage, and as you’ve given me all this, in return I’ll give you a tip as is worth a king’s money box.”
“You needn’t bother.”
“You shall ’ave it. I’ve never told a soul. It’s ’ow you can earn a living on the streets like me, and keep, like me, as good a maid as any lady married at St George’s, ’Anover Square.”
“Thank you, but—“.
“Listen; listen; listen! It’s dress quiet, pick up soft-looking gents, refuse drink, and pitch ’em a Sunday school yarn,” said Miss Ewer impressively.
“It’s four pound a week I’m giving away. Tell ’em it’s the first time you’re going wrong; talk about your dead ’usband in ’is grave, an’ the innocent little lovely baby girl in ’er cot (the gentlemen like baby girls better’n boys), as prayed for ’er mummy before she went to sleep. Then, squeeze a tear an’ see if that don’t touch their ‘earts an’ their pockets.”
“Let me go! Let me go!” cried Mavis, horrified at the woman’s communication.
“I thought I’d astonish you,” said Miss Ewer complacently.
“Let me go. This way?”
“Too grateful to thenk me! Never mind; leave it till nex’ time we meet. You can thenk me then. I thought I’d take your breath away.”
“Let me out! Let me out!” cried Mavis, as she fumbled at the chain of the front door.
“Lemme. Good night, and Gawd bless yer,” said Miss Ewer, furtively counting the gold pieces in her pocket.
Mavis did not reply.
“Thought I’d astonish yer. Fer Gawd’s sake, don’t whisper what I told you to a livin’ soul. An’ work ’ard and keep virtuous like me. Before Gawd, I’m as good a maid—”
These were the last words Mavis heard as she hurried away from Miss Ewer.