After we left the spike at Lower Binfield, Paddy and I earned half a
crown at weeding and sweeping in somebodyss garden, stayed the night at
Cromley, and walked back to London. I parted from Paddy a day or two later.
B. lent me a final two pounds, and, as I had only another eight days to
hold out, that was the end of my troubles. My tame imbecile turned out
worse than I had expected, but not bad enough to make me wish myself back
in the spike or the Auberge de Jehan Cottard.
Paddy set out for Portsmouth, where he had a. friend who might
conceivably find work for him, and I have never seen him since. A short
time ago I was told that he had been run over and killed, but perhaps my
informant was mixing him up with someone else. I had news of Bozo only
three days ago. He is in Wandsworth--fourteen days for begging. I do not
suppose prison worries him very much.
My story ends here. It is a fairly trivial story, and I can only hope
that it has been interesting in the same way as a travel diary is
interesting. I can at least say, Here is the world that awaits you if you
are ever penniless. Some days I want to explore that world more thoroughly.
I should like to know people like Mario and Paddy and Bill the moocher, not
from casual encounters, but intimately; I should like to understand what
really goes on in the souls of PLONGEURS and tramps and Embankment
sleepers. At present I do not feel that I have seen more than the fringe of
Still I can point to one or two things I have definitely learned by
being hard up. I shall never again think that all tramps are drunken
scoundrels, nor expect a beggar to be grateful when I give him a penny, nor
be surprised if men out of work lack energy, nor subscribe to the Salvation
Army, nor pawn my clothes, nor refuse a handbill, nor enjoy a meal at a
smart restaurant. That is a beginning.