Did Jacky & Jaimy Meet as Kids?

This Out Take deals with the burning question, ‘Is it possible that Jacky and Jaimy might have met during their earlier youth, as they did live quite close together - Jaimy on Brattle Street and Jacky under Blackfriars Bridge with the Rooster Charlie Gang.

 

Why was it taken out? I forget... maybe because it strained credulity a bit? Impossibly corny, I know, but that's the way we are. Anyway, here it is.

It takes up on page 167, Chapter 17 of Bonny Light Horseman as Jacky is being driven by coach through the streets of her old neighborhood in Cheapside. (Note: Elizabeth Fry was one of the great prison reformers in 19th Century Britain.)

I have been guarded in the past, generally against my will, by any number of soldiers and marines, and I’ve always been able to use whatever charms I may have to gain at least their sympathy if not their affection. But not these two, oh, no. All my little ventures into their histories, or accounts of their wives or sweethearts have been met with stony silence. Never a glimmer of humor, nor even a response except for a terse ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or a grunt. Well, we shall see, lads...

As we rattle along, I reflect on how close Jaimy might have been to me during that time I was growing up and running with the Rooster Charlie Gang and living under Blackfriars Bridge. I mean, the warehouses of H.M. Fletcher & Sons were not half a mile from our kip, in fact, there they are right over there, and I’m sure he must have been there sometimes - oh, I know he’d have been in school most of the time, but then....wait...Oh, Lord....that time right on that corner there, that very corner...that time back then, just before I left the gang...

I had been hired by Miss Elizabeth Gurney , soon to become Mrs. Elizabeth Fry, and her band of Quakers, to carry messages of hope and solace to the poor wretches in Newgate Prison, me and the Rooster Charlie Gang bein’ real good at gettin’ into that supposedly impregnable prison. When I was not doing that, I handed out the Quakers’ antislavery broadsheets and tacked them up on any walls I could find what could hold‘em. She ‘ad helped me in gettin’ milk into my baby Jesse, and I was forever beholden to her for that. Jesse was by this time ‘dopted by a good family and gettin’ on well, but still I helped Miss Gurney for what she had done for me and him. When I did the posters, though, I generally did it on me own, but sometimes with my good Hugh the Grand by me side, and sometimes not. After all, Hughie ‘ad to look after the other wee ones, as well - Judy, Polly, Nancy, and all.

I ‘ad run into the Shankies several times when I was doin’ this, each time wi’ Hughie by me side, for which I was thankful.

“How come a dirty bint like you gets to put up them posters, and gets paid for it and not us fine lads, eh?” demands Amos Smathers, who had taken over the lead of the Shankies by that time, Pigger O’Toole ‘avin gone off to ‘is well deserved reward. May he roast in Hell.

“Cause I can read, unlike you morons” I spits back, clutching my sheaf of posters to my chest. “Huh! Fine lads, indeed.” I snort, “I could find finer lads in the bottom o’ any common sewer! Just yesterday I looked down inta a privy hole and thought I saw yer ugly faces down there in the slops. Gave me quite a start it did...’fore I let loose on it.”

“One of these days, Little Bleedin’ Mary, we’re gonna catch you when that oaf of yours ain’t around and then you’re gonna get it,” snarls the Enoch, showing his not-very-good teeth. “And yer gonna get it good.”

“Pound him, Hughie.” I says. “We’ll all feel better for it, and it will do him some good. Show ‘im his place and all.”

The Shanky Boys slink away before Hughie can deal them some well-earned pain, but Amos looks back at me with real malice. I hold his gaze and send a gob of spit in his direction, but I do resolve to be extra careful for a while - and maybe watch my mouth in the future.

In my way I’m proud of getting this job and I intend to be diligent at it. I’m also proud that I’ll be able to bring back several pennies to the gang so that we’ll eat tonight because of it. And, this little job gets me into the better neighborhoods, with some cover, so maybe some future mischief might be planned. Maybe even into Brattle Street which is where I venture now..

I see, in the street in front of a fine house, two boys playing with a ball - kicking it about fiercely at risk to life and limb and any window in the area. When they see me, they stop.

“You there, girl,” says the older one, picking up the ball and putting it under his arm. Prolly afraid I’d snatch it and run off, the sod.. “What have you got?”

“I ain’t doing nothin’ wrong, Sir,” I says, backin’ up and lookin’ to get out of there ‘fore they takes me and beats me up. “It’s just posters, Sir. I’m paid to hand ‘em out and tack them up.”

“Let’s see, then,” he says, reaching out. I give him one, warily watching his hand so that it don’t suddenly lash out and hit me. He reads it.

“What is it, Jimmy?” asks the other boy, impatient to be on with their game.

“It’s a paper preaching against slavery” replies the one called Jimmy, and...

...And here I sit back against the coach seat and think - Oh, my God... could that have been him? I get a lump in my throat and I sit silent in that coach. Jaimy did say he had a brother. The other boy called him Jim. Jim...James...Jaimy?

“ It is a worthy cause,” says the one called Jim, “I’ll take one and put it...”

Just then Amos and two of his boys comes rushing around the corner and right at me. He must have spotted me goin’ off alone and followed me up here. Damn! Amos grabs me by the arm and flings me to the ground and my posters go flying. I let out a screech as he kicks me in the leg and I try to get on my hands and knees to crawl away, but the other two are on me in an instant, fists flailing and me takin’ the blows.

“Here, here!” says the boy named Jim, and pulls Amos back off me. “Not fair, hitting a girl!”

“Sod off, rich boy! This ain’t yer concern! She ain't no girl, she's a dirty little smartmouth bitch!” shouts Amos in his face, but the rich boy don’t flinch, even with Smather’s spittle on his face.

“Come, Brother,” says the rich boy’s companion, soundin’ mighty worried. “She’s just a beggar. Let this be! Let’s go inside!”

“Leave her alone, scum,” says Jim, not moving from his place. He balls up his fists and raises them up. Amos looks at the threat and decides not to press it.

“I’ll git yew later,” says Smathers down at me, givin’ me a final kick and sayin’, “Tomorrow... count on it, bint.” and then he slouches off, makin’ a rude gesture back at the toff named Jim.

The boy helps me up and then collect my papers. He offers to walk me home.

“Where do you live?”

“I don’t live anywhere, Sir. And don’t worry, he won’t surprise me again. And thank you, Sir, for your help. A penny, if you got one?”

He gave me one.

I jerk myself back into the present. Could that have been Jaimy, and maybe his brother? Ah, nay, there’s a thousands coves named Jim in this town, you know that. Put it out of your mind, girl. Back to business. The carriage pulls up in front of the offices of H.M. Fletcher & Sons, Brattle Street, London. I get out and walk in, followed very closely by Carr & Boyd.

There is a young man sitting behind a desk who looks up as I enter.

“Yes, Miss?”

“I wish to see Mr. H. M. Fletcher.” I say, from behind my veil, as I glance about the room. The young man looks so much like Jaimy that I must assume that he is his brother George.

“In what regard?” the young man asks, rising. So much like Jaimy! Calm, now, you!

And so on to the end of that chapter.

Then, at the end of Chapter 20, page 194 we had this ...

I return a nod of thanks and turn back to Jaimy.

It looks like he might pass out again, but he does not. He struggles to speak once more, but I say, “Jaimy, please be still. All I want to do is sit here by your side while I can.” I put a kiss upon his cheek. “No, no, lie quiet, it is what you must do now. You have to get well.”

He lies back on the pillow and looks at me.

“Do you remember that time on the Dolphin after I was beaten and you took care of me,” I say. “Do you recall that, Jaimy?”

“Yes,” he says, recollecting that day. “I hated what happened to you.”

I pat his hand and say, “It’s all right. I got over it, and so will you.”

“Jacky, I...”

“Hush, now, hush,” and we sit in silence for a while.

Then I say, “Do...do you also recall something that maybe happened a long time ago, when you were but a boy and you helped out a begger girl there on Brattle Street? She was was being beaten by two bigger boys...”

He peers at me, wondering. “Yes...something...a little girl...handing out papers...maybe...

“Don’t say anything more, Jaimy,” I beg, tears pouring out of my eyes and onto his sheet. “Just know that I will love you forever, no matter what happens.”

And with that I place a kiss upon his lips and Mr. Carr says, “Time, Miss.”

 
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