She went into town and wandered about listlessly, not knowing where to go, till nearly twelve o’clock, and the streets were gradually emptying themselves of their crowds. The coffee stalls were at all the corners, with hungry-looking people of both sexes crowded round them, and here and there in door steps could be seen some outcasts resting in huddled heaps, while the policemen every now and then would come up and make them move on.
Kitty was footsore and heart-weary, and felt inclined to cry, but was nevertheless resolved not to go back to her home in Richmond. She dragged herself along the lonely street, and round the corner came on a coffee stall with no one at it except one small boy whose head just reached up to the counter. Such a ragged boy as he was, with a broad comical-looking face—a shaggy head of red hair and a hat without any brim to it—his legs were bandy and his feet were encased in a pair of men’s boots several sizes too large for him. He had a bundle of newspapers under one arm and his other hand was in his pocket rattling some coppers together while he bargained with the coffee-stall keeper over a pie. The coffee stall had the name of Spilsby inscribed on it, so it is fair to suppose that the man therein was Spilsby himself. He had a long grey beard and a meek face, looking so like an old wether himself it appeared almost the act of a cannibal on his part to eat a mutton pie. A large placard at the back of the stall set forth the fact that ’Spilsby’s Specials’ were sold there for the sum of one penny, and it was over ‘Spilsby’s Specials’ the ragged boy was arguing.
‘I tell you I ain’t agoin’ to eat fat,’ he said, in a hoarse voice, as if his throat was stuffed up with one of his own newspapers. ’I want a special, I don’t want a hordinary.’
‘This are a special, I tells you,’ retorted Spilsby, ungrammatically, pushing a smoking pie towards the boy; ’what a young wiper you are, Grattles, a-comin’ and spoilin’ my livin’ by cussin’ my wictuals.’
’Look ‘ere,’ retorted Grattles, standing on the tips of his large boots to look more imposing, ’my stumick’s a bit orf when it comes to fat, and I wants the vally of my penny; give us a muttony one, with lots of gravy.’
‘’Ere y’are, then,’ said Spilsby, quite out of temper with his fastidious customer; ’’ere’s a pie as is all made of ram as ’adn’t got more fat on it than you ‘ave.’
Grattles examined the article classed under this promising description with a critical air, and then laid down his penny and took the pie.