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She looked at Lizzie and shook her head, then said, ‘He opened his eyes but . . . but I don’t think he knew me, he just keeps sayin’ that word, pity, pity . . . Have . . . have you heard about John George?’

‘John George? Was he in?’

‘No, Mrs Connor—’ she always gave Ruth her full title—’he’s . . . he’s been taken https://www.onlinecasinoitaliani.com/recensioni/golden-star/.’

‘Taken?’ They both screwed up their faces while they looked back at her. ‘Yes, for stealin’.’

‘John George!’ Again they spoke simultaneously. She nodded her head slowly. ‘Five pounds ten, and . . . and he’s been at it for some time.’

They were speechless. Their mouths fell into a gape as they listened. ‘Mr Kean was away and Miss Kean came early on, earlier than usual to collect the money. She was on her way to some place or other an’ she just called in on the off-chance. She had her father’s key and she opened the box and . . . and there was five pounds ten short from what was in his book. Apparently he had been doin’ a fiddle.’

No! Not John George .’ Ruth was holding the brim of her black straw hat tightly in her fist.

‘Yes. Aye, I couldn’t believe it either. It made me sick. But the master, he heard it all in the office. The solicitors, you know. He . . . he said he was a stupid fellow. I . . . I put a word in for him I did. I said I’d always found him nice, a really nice fella, and he said, ‘He’s been crafty, Janie. He’s admitted to using this trick every time he was sure Mr Kean wasn’t goin’ to collect the Saturday takings.’ Apparently he would nip something out then put it back on the Monday mornin’ early, but this time he was too late. And then he said nobody but a stupid man would admit to doing this in the past, then try to deny that he had taken five pounds ten. He wanted to say it was only ten shillings, and he had that on him to put back . . . He had just been to the pawn. They found the ticket on him.’

‘Oh God Almighty! what’ll happen next? Rory and now John George, an’ all within three days. It isn’t possible. But this accounts for his face, the look on his face when he came up yesterday. Eeh! God above.’ Lizzie began rocking herself.

‘It’s this lass that he’s caught on to, Lizzie.’ Janie nodded slowly. ‘Rory said he was barmy about her. He bought her a locket an’ chain at Christmas and he takes her by the ferry or train to Newcastle every week, then round the buildings. He’s daft about buildings. I never knew that till he told me one night. Then last week he gave her tea in some place. Yes, he did, he took her out to tea. And not in no cheap cafe neither, a place off Grey Street. An’ Rory said Grey Street’s classy.’

‘Women can be the ruin of a man in more ways than one.’ Lizzie’s head was bobbing up and down now. ‘But no matter, I’m sorry for him, to the very heart of me I’m sorry for him ’cos I liked John George. He had somethin’ about him, a gentleness, not like a man usually has.’

Ruth asked quietly, ‘Do you know when he’ll be tried, Janie?’

‘No, but I mean to find out.’

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