‘Baggage! Slut!’ said Mrs Pipkin; ’after all I’ve done for you, just as one as though you were my own flesh and blood.’
‘I’ve worked for it, I suppose;—haven’t I?’ rejoined Ruby.
’You send for your things to-morrow, for you don’t come in here no more. You ain’t nothing to me no more nor no other girl. But I’d ’ve saved you, if you’d but a’ let me. As for you,’—and she looked at Sir Felix,—’only because I’ve lodgings to let, and because of the lady upstairs, I’d shake you that well, you’d never come here no more after poor girls.’ I do not think that she need have feared any remonstrance from Mrs Hurtle, even had she put her threat into execution.
Sir Felix, thinking that he had had enough of Mrs Pipkin and her lodger, left the house with Ruby on his arm. For the moment, Ruby had been triumphant, and was happy. She did not stop to consider whether her aunt would or would not open her door when she should return tired, and perhaps repentant. She was on her lover’s arm, in her best clothes, and going out to have a dinner given to her. And her lover had told her that he had ever so many things,—ever so many things to say to her! But she would ask no impertinent questions in the first hour of her bliss. It was so pleasant to walk with him up to Pentonville;—so joyous to turn into a gay enclosure, half public-house and half tea-garden; so pleasant to hear him order the good things, which in his company would be so nice! Who cannot understand that even an urban Rosherville must be an Elysium to those who have lately been eating their meals in all the gloom of a small London underground kitchen? There we will leave Ruby in her bliss.
At about nine that evening John Crumb called at Mrs Pipkin’s, and was told that Ruby had gone out with Sir Felix Carbury. He hit his leg a blow with his fist, and glared out of his eyes. ’He’ll have it hot some day,’ said John Crumb. He was allowed to remain waiting for Ruby till midnight, and then, with a sorrowful heart, he took his departure.
It was on a Friday evening, an inauspicious Friday, that poor Ruby Ruggles had insisted on leaving the security of her Aunt Pipkin’s house with her aristocratic and vicious lover, in spite of the positive assurance made to her by Mrs Pipkin that if she went forth in such company she should not be allowed to return. ’Of course you must let her in,’ Mrs Hurtle had said soon after the girl’s departure. Whereupon Mrs Pipkin had cried. She knew her own softness too well to suppose it to be possible that she could keep the girl out in the streets all night; but yet it was hard upon her, very hard, that she should be so troubled. ’We usen’t to have our ways like that when I was young,’ she said, sobbing. What was to be the end of it? Was she to be forced by circumstances to keep the girl always there, let the girl’s conduct be what it might? Nevertheless she acknowledged that Ruby must be let in when she came back. Then, about nine o’clock, John Crumb came; and the latter part of the evening was more melancholy even than the first. It was impossible to conceal the truth from John Crumb. Mrs Hurtle saw the poor man and told the story in Mrs Pipkin’s presence.